Gross’s thesis is that conservatives self-select other professions, independently choosing not to become professors because academia is so liberal. But this sidesteps the clear evidence Gross provides revealing faculty bias in hiring. Gross cites, yet ignores, a study which found that seven percent of conservative academics report having been the victim of political discrimination. Conservative professor Mary Grabar debunks Gross’s thesis, publishing essays from six white male professors who have been blocked out of higher academia, in her new book, Exiled: Stories From Conservative and Moderate Professors Who Have Been Ridiculed, Ostracized, Marginalized, Demonized and Frozen Out. Most of them cannot obtain well-paying full-time work at four-year institutions, and instead are relegated to “perpetual adjunct status, teaching twice as many classes as the average course load, for wages that work out to be less than minimum wage.”
In the second half of Gross’s book, he tries to understand why conservatives care about this bias. Besides the fact that it is unfair to conservatives who want to become professors, the obvious answer is because many professors insert their political biases into their grading and teaching. Gross correctly answers this question on page three in his book’s Introduction and should have stopped there, “Stick an impressionable twenty-year old in a classroom for fifteen weeks with a charismatic instructor who makes the case that conservatives are heartless or deluded and that the United States has evil designs, and the student is likely to veer left.” Gross interviewed professors on whether they engage in political indoctrination, or “critical pedagogy.” Two of fifty-seven professors he interviewed fully admitted they were guilty of it.
Yet Gross cannot understand the conservative mind, and wastes the second half of the book analyzing stereotypes and red herrings. Professor Grabar reviewed Gross’s book and concluded, “Even as he attempts to look fair-minded, Gross presents caricatured pictures of conservatism.”
Gross attempts to make conservatives look bad throughout the book, but much of it backfires. He asserts, “social conservatives tend to come from lower social class origins in the contemporary American context,” and, “Professors tend to come from better educated, higher income families than other Americans.” However, this just goes to validate the complaint by conservatives that academia is composed of elitist liberals who come from wealthy, connected families.
The good news is not all areas of study are heavily dominated by professors on the left. Economics, criminology, and engineering still have a significant portion of conservative professors, although not quite 50 percent.
To his credit, Gross has attempted to put some semblance of fairness into his book, by daring to expose real biases against conservative professors. And for that he was threatened by the very liberal establishment he is a part of. As a result of his audit study, “Two complained to my institutional review board, and one threatened legal action if his case was not removed from our data set (it was).” It is a sad day for academia when the left is not only shutting down conservatives, but also their own who are speaking up about the suppression of free speech and the free flow of ideas at the universities.
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