Friday, December 15, 2006

Conservative Intellectuals and Academia

The December 15th issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education has a lengthy, thoughtful essay from Mark Bauerlein on the lack of a conservative intellectual presence in academia. Here's a sample:

Notwithstanding the outcome of the recent election, in one respect, the last few decades mark a breakthrough era for conservative intellectuals. Their visibility has soared. Thirty years ago, the only place to find conservatives on television was Firing Line, William F. Buckley's urbane talk show. Today they appear on Meet the Press and 60 Minutes. Conservatives reign on talk radio, and the political-blog universe tends to the right, too, especially to the libertarian view. As for book publishing, conservative tomes used to be a marginal genre published by Regnery Publishing and a few others. Now conservative authors make the best-seller lists, and small conservative presses like Encounter Books thrive while major houses like Penguin have started conservative imprints. By 2003 Brian C. Anderson, an editor of City Journal, could declare, "The Left's near monopoly over the institutions of opinion and information — which long allowed liberal opinion makers to sweep aside ideas and beliefs they disagreed with, as if they were beneath argument — is skidding to a startlingly swift halt."

The gains in public life are real. But it's a mistake to take the media status of conservatives too far. For in another respect, little has changed. When we assess intellectuals, we enter a rarified habitat of books and ideas, and the prime setting for appreciating those is the college campus. There, conservative intellectuals remain stymied. Their relationship to the universities in which they found their calling and to the curriculum and scholarship they studied — that remains tenuous.

As Bauerlein makes clear, the neglect of conservative ideas in academia has a negative impact on both conservatives and universities. Please give the full essay a read:

How Academe Shortchanges Conservative Thinking

(Link courtesy of Michelle Malkin)


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