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The liberal university: a Nick Kristof joint


In his latest column decrying the PC university, Nicholas Kristof indulges in the rhetorical pleasures of assembling and then incinerating a parade of strawmen.   Before getting to that, let’s note how he also gets tangled up in various unintentional ironies:

We champion tolerance, except for conservatives and evangelical Christians. We want to be inclusive of people who don’t look like us — so long as they think like us.

In the midst of a column calling for sensitivity to the value of social diversity, Kristof doesn’t even notice the extent to which his own whiteness remains, for him, a completely unmarked category: “we” PC liberals who live in “our” elite bubbles in the universities and the coastal enclaves etc. etc. “want to be inclusive of people who don’t look like us,” that is, white.

In other words Kristof’s modal liberal is someone who looks and talks like Nicholas Kristof, which, ironically, happens to be exactly what Fox News et. al. want people to think when they hear the word “liberal,” which in turn allows for nonsensical claims that the 66 million people who voted for Hillary Clinton constituted some sort of out of touch coastal elite.

Moving right along:

Some of you are saying that it’s O.K. to be intolerant of intolerance, to discriminate against bigots who acquiesce in Trump’s record of racism and misogyny. By all means, stand up to the bigots. But do we really want to caricature half of Americans, some of whom voted for President Obama twice, as racist bigots? Maybe if we knew more Trump voters we’d be less inclined to stereotype them.

Or maybe if “we” (a pronoun that’s doing so much invisible work in this column that it should get paid overtime) knew more Trump voters “we” would conclude that racism and misogyny were extremely commonplace among his supporters.  If only there were some social institution set up to study such questions!

But since there apparently isn’t, we’ll just have to settle for anecdotal bullshit, aka opinion editorial columns in elite media fora published deep inside bubble-like coastal enclaves.

The weakest argument against intellectual diversity is that conservatives or evangelicals have nothing to add to the conversation. “The idea that conservative ideas are dumb is so preposterous that you have to live in an echo chamber to think of it,”[Cass]  Sunstein told me.

That is an amazingly weak argument, which is why it’s so shocking that prominent liberal academics such as [citations omitted] have made it.

Of course, we shouldn’t empower racists and misogynists on campuses. But whatever some liberals think, “conservative” and “bigot” are not synonyms.

Yes I remember well when “some liberals” won the 2015 Nobel prize in multicultural gender studies for arguing that conservative and bigot are actually synonyms.  That was indeed a dark day for academia.

I could go on (and on) but I’m temporarily out of snark.

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