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Reader comment on item: Professor [Shahid Alam] Compared Terrorists to Founding Fathers

Submitted by Jim McPherson, Ph.D. (United States), Apr 8, 2005 at 21:04

I always get a good chuckle when those on the right claim our universities are indoctrinating students to turn them into liberals. I've been reading that complaint since at least the 1960s. Since then, the "indoctrination" has resulted in conservative control of the presidency, Congress, and the federal courts.

Still, I don't deny a liberal bias among academics. Like it or not, part of the reason universities employ so many of us liberal-leaning folks is because we happen to value ideas and the search for truth. Another factor in our liberalism may be that professors usually are considerably more well-informed and more educated than the general public -- though I've also worked with many conservatives in academia, and they also tended to be considerably more well-informed and more educated than the general public.

But the biggest factor in the liberal-conservative disparity in academia seems to be the relationship between money and service. Few academic committees or administrators (the latter of whom may be mostly conservatives, anyway) actually care a whit about a professor's political views. They care about whether s/he can teach and do research while working long hours for relatively little pay (compared to what someone with the same education could make elsewhere, of course -- I don't deny that I make a good living compared to someone who didn't spend about a decade in college).

In my view, the biggest reason that professors, public school teachers, social workers, reporters, and many others lean to the left is because those people want to "do good" at a societal level, however trite that may sound, and are willing to forego some financial rewards to do so. If you doubt it, go to the library of any public university (a large building full of books, typically near the center of campus) and ask for the list of faculty salaries (they're a matter of public record), and see what professors are paid. Also notice that faculty members in what may be the most left-leaning departments of English, philosophy, history, political science and religious studies are paid far less than are professors in business and engineering.

Better yet, spend the next several years getting a Ph.D. of your own in one of those disciplines and start applying for jobs. We can use you, and you'll likely get a job – even if you manage to remain a conservative.

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