David French, writing in the New York Post, takes a look at the fallout from the Ward Churchill firing. His conclusion is that this one incident has done more to expose the leftward skew in academia than years of conservative criticism. The monolithic ivory tower is showing some cracks.
Despite the mountain of evidence against Churchill, it took more than two years for the wheels of justice to turn. As he received more due process than ordinary Americans ever receive in the course of their professional lives, Churchill's dogged fight to keep his job only reinforced for many the notion that faculty members view themselves as a breed apart – entitled to lucrative lifetime employment no matter what they do.
That will be Ward Churchill's lasting legacy. He was the tipping point. Now, it's not just leading conservatives who view the academy as an out-of-control, disconnected bastion of petulant entitlement. In a recent Zogby poll, 58 percent of Americans reported that they now believe that political bias of professors is a "serious problem." Even more, 65 percent, viewed non-tenured professors as more motivated to do a good job in the classroom.
These are not isolated findings. A survey by the American Association of University Professors found that 58.4 percent of Americans had only some or no confidence in our colleges and that 82 percent want to modify or eliminate tenure.
Ultimately, the people will vote with their dollars. Schools that fail to correct the most egregious cases of academic fraud – like Churchill got away with for years – will find themselves short on students. Churchill's fall also points out one other thing: those with skeletons in their closets might want to think long and hard before they begin screeching publicly about pretty much anything. )I'd also point out that the gang of academics at Duke who advocated the legal lynching of three innocent men did a lot to poison academia in the public's perception.) The public is wising up to the leftward tilt and isn't very happy about it.