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12/19/2004 03:09:00 AM | Nikhil

The Economist Meets TDR
I'm catching up with old issues of the economist while home for the break, and I just came across an editorial in the Dec 2nd issue (here for premium subscribers) calling for increased "intellectual diversity," i.e. more conservatives in academia. The writer also seems to think that Tom Wolfe's vision of Ivy League life in I Am Charlotte Simmons is fairly accurate.

A recent article by Jonathan Chait seems to provide a better explanation for the dearth of conservatives in academia than the liberal conspiracies proposed by many conservatives: Republican anti-intellectualism:

Second, professors don't particularly want to be Republicans. In recent years, and especially under George W. Bush, Republicans have cultivated anti-intellectualism. Remember how Bush in 2000 ridiculed Al Gore for using all them big numbers?

That's not just a campaign ploy. It’s how Republicans govern these days. Last summer, my colleague Frank Foer wrote a cover story in the New Republic detailing the way the Bush administration had disdained the advice of experts. And not liberal experts, either. These were Republican-appointed wonks whose know-how on topics such as global warming, the national debt and occupying Iraq were systematically ignored. Bush prefers to follow his gut.
Chait notes that while NYT columnist complains about the dearth of conservative intellectuals, he takes pride in the fact that "Republicans, from Reagan to Bush, admire leaders who are straight-talking men of faith. The Republican leader doesn't have to be book smart."

Universities are supposed to offer the cutting edge in thought; conservatives, by definition, resist this. Of course, right wing ideas are continually advancing in economics and certain other areas, but there is a reason that graduates of universities like Bob Jones that teach conservative ideas in the physical or social sciences don't get hired by Republican Wall Street bosses.




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