Kudos to an enterprising reporter at the Harvard Crimson for alerting us all to the fact that over half of the respondents to a faculty survey at one of the most famous universities in the world are perfectly fine with blatant employment discrimination against those who are not left-wing. In this case, Harvard is the institution and Trump-affiliated job applicants the victims of this outrageous and possibly illegal blacklisting.
The results of this prejudice are all too apparent. In the July 13, 2022 Harvard Crimson article we are discussing today, More than 80 Percent of Surveyed Harvard Faculty Identify as Liberal, we read that one of the findings of the paper’s annual survey of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences was this shocking statistic:
Only 1 percent of respondents stated they are “conservative,” and no respondents identified as “very conservative.”
Yet even this infinitesimal number of non-left-wing faculty members is too much for over half the respondents to the survey. We learn:
When asked whether they would support increasing ideological diversity among faculty by hiring more conservative-leaning professors, only a quarter of respondents were in support. In contrast, 31 percent opposed hiring conservative professors to increase ideological diversity, while 44 percent of respondents said that they neither supported or opposed it.
To be fair, given that many conservatives oppose affirmative action based on race left-wing faculty could argue that it would be hypocritical for those on the right to argue for hiring based on ideology. And there are so many types of conservatism that hiring conservatives is not as straightforward as it sounds.
Then again, given that Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences is currently engaged in an ethnic studies cluster hire initiative there is no reason that it could not launch a comparable initiative for subject areas in which conservatives excel such as natural law or the history of conservative thought or bring scholars who are known to be conservative into department in which they are grossly underrepresented such as sociology, public health, anthropology and women’s studies.
The opposition of so many of the respondents to using hiring to try to address the glaring lack of ideological diversity at Harvard is bad enough given that it makes an institution supposedly devoted to a lively intellectual life and that lectures the rest of the world about how vital diversity and inclusivity are a place where left-wing thought and only left-wing thought reigns. But we learn from the article that this distaste for anyone who questions the left-wing-dominated status quo veers off into outright discrimination against those who have served honorably and capably in government if that government happened to be led by Donald Trump:
Just over half of faculty respondents supported extra vetting for former Trump administration officials seeking appointments within the FAS, but a plurality opposed barring them entirely from these positions.
Around 56 percent of surveyed faculty indicated they strongly or somewhat support greater screening, while 19 percent of surveyed faculty are strongly or somewhat opposed to it. Nearly a quarter indicated they neither support nor oppose it.
Think about that for a moment. Over half of the respondents—academics at Harvard University, which has a huge impact on the formation and public framing of questions of public policy, culture and law and enjoys a cachet that few other institutions of higher education can match—stated outright that they will engage in nothing short of a 21st Century version of McCarthyism to maintain their grip on power. Only now the question has become, “Are you now or have you ever been a Republican?” Less than 20% strongly or even somewhat opposed such targeting of political opponents. Nearly a quarter were complicit in such practices. This is frightening for all of us and should occasion some serious soul searching by Harvard faculty and all connected with the university.
One wonders how the question came to be asked at all. Was it because the designers of the survey are worried about how ideologically uniform Harvard has become and wanted some data on the matter? Or were the designers of the survey assuming that modern day McCarthyism is perfectly acceptable at Harvard and just wanted to determine how far members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences are willing to go in this direction?
It is fascinating and alarming how comfortable the respondents were in indicating, even anonymously, that those who served in the Trump administration should be subjected to a higher level scrutiny than, say, proponents of Black Lives Matter, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU or staff members of any Democratic administration.
And what form would this vetting take? Would merely serving in the Trump-era Justice Department or some other department or agency be considered disqualifying? And how high up would one have to have served in government to be considered a, “Trump administration official?” Would Anthony Fauci be considered one, for example? Or would one have to have been personally appointed by Trump to warrant such vetting? And would those who were appointed by Trump but who later turned on him (like, say, James Mattis) be exempt from such extra vetting? Would Harvard hiring committees get to determine via secretive practices whom they considered too offensively Trumpian?
These numbers are not exactly reassuring:
More than 40 percent of surveyed faculty, however, disagreed that Trump administration officials should be barred from receiving appointments within the FAS altogether. On the other hand, 30 percent of respondents indicated they support barring former Trump officials from FAS positions, and 29 percent neither support nor oppose.
Let that sink it. For many of the respondents, extra vetting was not punitive enough. Many of the respondents, “support barring former Trump officials from FAS positions.” Basically, serving in government under a president that many Harvard faculty members detest disqualifies that person from employment at Harvard. This is a dangerous precedent and a sign of the growing intolerance of the academic elite. It also starves Harvard of talent, experience and expertise.
Let us hope that conservatives will consider at some point fighting back hard and ripping down the curtain of hiring practices at Harvard and at other members of the Ivy League intellectual cartel and comparably prestigious schools. After all, the terms “Harvard educated” or “teaches in the such and such school at Harvard” are often used in the media to connote expertise and if conservatives are barred from Harvard, only the voice of the left will be heard there and that is bad for its students and for public discourse nationwide.