Those who hold the views dominant among university faculty often mock those who comment -- well, on the fact that their views are dominant among university faculty.  Recently I came across the statement that when persons like me complain about the overwhelming prevalence of secular leftist ideologies in the classroom, we are really merely complaining that students at universities “meet real life.”

No, we are complaining that the students there don’t meet real life.  Real life includes all sorts of people with all sorts of ideas.  Academia doesn’t.

Is the “meeting real life” excuse merely naïve, or is it offered in bad faith?  Maybe a little of both.

You can see why some scholars might want to believe that they represent “real life.”  If they were ever to admit to themselves how they shut out the views they dislike, it would eat away at their picture of themselves as critics of the “narratives of power” and protectors of society’s underdogs (of whom, by the way, most have little first-hand knowledge and even less respect).

On the other hand, it seems likely that many university people really don’t know how narrow their intellectual culture is.  Since the only people they ever meet are just like them, they think they represent the Great Center, and that their little end of the spectrum is the whole universe of reasonable discourse.

By the way, they censor themselves just as ruthlessly as they do others.  If a scholar of this sort ever catches himself implying that there might be something questionable about some behavior that PC norms hold sacrosanct – yes, it happens – he hastens to cover himself by saying, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”  And he tries to believe that this is true.

Not only does his social place depend on covering himself, but so does his sense of himself as someone who belongs.

Related posts:

The Future of the Life of the Mind

Thick Descriptions, Thin Skins