Dear Professor Adams:
I am now in my second semester of graduate school, and I'm afraid I'm either going to be driven insane or driven out of this school by a herd of angry, socialist professors before I can escape with my political science Ph.D. Seriously, if I have to read one more biased article or book, I may go mad. Just a few minutes ago, I threw down my textbook in disgust and used Google and found your name in a desperate search for some advice (I once read a story about your conversion to Christianity as a tenured professor).
You certainly came to the right place for advice. Actually, you came to the far-right place for advice. World magazine recently said that I am “probably the most outspoken Christian conservative professor in the United States now teaching at state university.” You need to get advice from a straight shooter – as opposed to, say, a gay non-shooter. Thanks for writing.
Seriously, how can a conservative survive in academia? Should I just toe the line? Or, perhaps pick my battles? I certainly cannot demand that the professors remove every biased reading from the syllabus because we would have very little left to study! But, sometimes the egregious, pervasive left-wing bias just grates on me, and I don't have any outlet.
No, you absolutely should not “toe the line.” My sixth great grandfather fought in the American Revolution. He enlisted at age 13. He was shot at age 15. He took a bullet in order for you to be free – not to be enslaved. If, by “toeing the line”, you mean saying things you don’t really believe in order to get a grade then, again, the answer is “no.” Do not allow yourself to become an intellectual whore by slavishly adopting the views of your would-be intellectual slave-masters. Stand up!
In the process of standing up, it is important that you always add to, rather than take away from, the intellectual marketplace of ideas. And, for that, you do have an outlet. It is to be found at www.CampusReform.org.
As a Christian conservative married woman, I am already an alien in my department. And despite my efforts to remain under the radar, I think my political persuasions might already have been outed, although I am sure they would all be aghast to find out the true extent of my conservatism.
Since you appear to have been already outed your decision is that much easier. There is little I find more exciting than watching liberal aghast in response to basic conservative ideas. I think you should take a digital tape recorder to your classes and record the strong emotional reactions, otherwise known as nervous breakdowns, when your professors hear about your ideas.
I once had a professor, Clifton Snider of Cal State Long Beach, write to my (now-former) chair and say essentially that I was an extremist out the mold of a Bill O’Reilly. It didn’t occur to him that the fact that O’Reilly is the most watched analyst on TV means this: Bill O’Reilly is main stream! I have amassed hundreds of these emails, which were written by liberals to my university over the last few years. I plan to use them to write a book called Redneck Jihad: My Personal War against the Easily Offended. You should begin to plan your first book right now as a first-year grad student!
Is it really realistic to think I can survive this environment? Is a degree and hopefully a career in academia really worth being silenced and shunned all along the way? Even if I do get my degree, will anyone even hire a conservative political scientist?
No, it isn’t worth being silenced and shunned. That is why you will instead speak out and shun your socialist professors. I want you to begin right away with an attitude of going on the offensive. This is easy to do effectively by simply asking tough questions while they are in front of an audience of students. Here are some specific questions I would start with right away:
1. Do you think it is morally permissible to build a wall along the U.S. border?
By the way, the answer to this question will be “no.” Your professor will say it is, in fact, racist to build such a wall.
2. Was it morally permissible to build a wall dividing Berlin after the Second World War?
This will give you an opportunity to show your socialist professor the difference between capitalists and communists: We have to build walls to keep the criminal out, they have to build walls to keep the innocent in.
3. Does the razing of the Berlin Wall in 1989 show that communism does not, in fact, work in the real world?
It is very likely that your professor will simply say the wrong people were in charge in East Germany. If so, be prepared to ask whether human nature has changed since 1989. Also, ask whether human nature has changed since the abolition of slavery and see whether your professor is bright enough to make the connection. Finally, make sure you ask your professor to define both “socialism” and “communism” if she says they are not the same thing.
4. Does tenure cause professors to be less concerned with the real world consequences of the theories they teach?
It is difficult for a professor to get fired once she has tenure. Since she lives in an isolated world without consequences it is very likely that she forgets how other people live. Make sure you also ask your professor whether she has tenure.
5. Do you believe in academic freedom for those who hold views diametrically opposed to your own?
She will answer “yes” to this question though she does not really mean it. Make sure you get her on record in front of witnesses (and on tape) in case we need to litigate in the future. Litigation will be stressful but not nearly as tough as fighting in the American Revolution in the winter without shoes at age 13 – or, of course, taking a bullet for future generations (that means you) by the age of 15.
Thank you so much for your articles on higher education; they make me feel less alone!
You are not alone. There are people just like you scattered all throughout higher education. Unfortunately, most are cowards. Just don’t become one of them and I’ll be glad to write you a letter of recommendation when you are finished.
Author’s Note: DrAdams.org has now moved to Facebook.