Ben Shapiro wrote a book. The book says that liberals are bad, and are indoctrinating the youth of this country. Bill Buckley, David Horowitz, Dinesh D’Souza, John LeBoutillier, and others have written similar books ever since 1953.
It’s astonishing to me, with all this indoctrination going on, how much the project is a real failure. I’m part of the dark Euro-lefty-ivory tower conspiracy, and I have to say that we really need to re-evaluate our strategy. It’s just not working out. No matter how hard I try, my students do not become brainwashed post-modern roccoco Marxists. Maybe I’m just not doing it right. . .
If I believed that I could brainwash students, I might make an effort to conceal my own point-of-view in the classroom. I can’t speak for others, but I have no desire to produce ideological clones. If I thought that students would uncritically adopt the arguments I make in the classroom, I would worry more about how I presented those arguments.
We become experts in subject matter because that matter holds interest for us. When becoming experts, we develop strong attitudes about our work. For me, there is no way of presenting the material without also presenting my attitude about it. I can’t discuss the foreign policy of the Bush administration without displaying at least some contempt. Given that, I have a couple choices. First, I could try to conceal my bias as much as possible, and give a sanitized view of the material. Second, I can make my bias clear, and ask students to recognize the effect of my own attitudes on my presentation of the material.
I opt for the second. I spare no effort mocking the Bush administration, the Reagan administration, and the neo-conservatives. My hope is that students will recognize where I’m coming from, and understand that my voice is one among many that will inform their view of the world. Students shouldn’t take Chomsky as writ, they shouldn’t take Krystol as writ, and they shouldn’t take my lectures as writ. I also make an effort to be intellectually fair, and point out the shortcomings in my position as well as the strongpoints in the other side. Finally, I do my best to ensure that conservatives have a voice in the classroom.
Sometimes this works, and conservatives come to respect, if not agree with, my position. Sometimes it doesn’t, and they storm out of the room. The first is satisfying, the second hilarious. If there are any out there in the lefarkins community (which must, by this point, number at least four or five; I know we have three) who have an opinion about this question from the viewpoint of either student or acadmic, please comment.
Blogging may be light for a while; Dave and I are visiting Colorado to inflict left-wing bias upon the next generation of young conservatives.