16th March 2013
Paul Rahe turns over a rock.
Most of the New Deal liberals that I once knew have passed on. They have been replaced in positions of authority by a generation for whom everything is political. Its motto is “the personal is political and the political is personal.” What this means in practice is that the members of this generation tend to regard those at odds with them not as merely wrong and perhaps intriguingly, interestingly wrong but as simply immoral. In the face of an argument or observation that does not sit comfortably with what they believe, they resort to denunciation. The dissenter is labeled a racist or a fascist or something worse, and he is read out of the human race. In this environment, conservatives are no longer welcome. No advertisement states that they need not apply for jobs at certain institutions, but that is nearly always the case.
The key to understanding what has happened is that the new generation has made of the university a political instrument. Its purpose, as they see it, is to help them transform the larger world. Those not on board with the program are interlopers to be demonized and driven out, and the quality of the scholarly work and the teaching they do has no weight. One can write and be widely read. One can be invited to conferences and to give lectures. But, if a job comes open at a major university, one will not even be interviewed. Trust me. I know from long experience.