John Zmirak

The New York Times recently ran an Op-Ed warning that the pervasive and invasive leftist politics of many professors, and the heavy-handed policies of politically correct administrators, pose a threat to the quality, integrity, and academic independence of colleges across the country. The interesting thing about this piece is that it was by one of the most important theorists of the academic Left, Stanley Fish—formerly of Duke University, a school where he himself was a leader in implementing such policies, once upon a time. While Fish has not renounced his own premises, he has lately emerged as a voice of moderate concern about the extent to which pre-fab political answers have replaced academic questioning as the mode of discourse on campus, especially in the humanities. It’s not for us to question his motives—to wonder, for instance, whether he fears that the backlash against leftist academia will take the form of funding cuts by legislators or boycotts by alumni donors. Or perhaps he simply worries that his disciples have gone too far, and turned his skeptical inquiries into a whole new set of dogmas. Whatever the reasons, Fish recognizes that there is indeed a problem. That’s why he devotes precious column inches in one of the most prominent media spots on earth, the Times editorial page, to discussing a documentary made by a 20-something film-maker, Evan Coyne Maloney, entitled Indoctrinate U.

John Zmirak

John Zmirak is editor of All American Colleges and Choosing the Right College.

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