The problem is deeper than a pedagogical or political one, however. Ideological uniformity is dangerous to the primary intellectual mission of any university: the pursuit of knowledge. How much will professors of (look at the list) -- government, political science, law, philosophy, social sciences, economics, sociology -- overlook and fail to explore if their work takes place in a relatively insular, parochial intellectual community, free from radically competing points of view?
Mary A. Burgan, general secretary of the American Association of University Professors, was concerned enough to at least question the poll's methodology.
"I really worry about a poll like this. That's got to be a very small sample," Burgan, formerly an English professor at Indiana University, told the Washington Times. Twelve percent of the survey's respondents were economics or business professors. "The humanities, from my own experience, tend to be more left than right of center, but I think that most of them are somewhere near the center," she said.
The whole theory of the university is that truth is best pursued in community and dialogue, where views can be challenged and critiqued and ultimately verified. If true, the absence of alternative views on campus is a grave concern not just for the political right, whose ax is being gored, but for anyone concerned about the quality of American education.
So yes, in the name of diversity, Harvard is right to be concerned when, say, a group of prominent Afro-American public intellectuals threaten to defect en masse (to Princeton!). Government racial quotas threaten the principle of equality before the law, but Harvard is not the government (not yet), and has a legitimate concern for protecting multiple points of view. Why is that concern to date so one-sided?
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.
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