Mark Moyar writes about his effort to obtain a professorship at the University of Iowa history department. This appears to be a case very much like what George Will wrote about yesterday in the social work field. While the University of Iowa may utilize hiring diversity in terms of racial makeup – one assumes they do – they practice a lockstep uniformity in thought. There are 27 professors who are members of the Democratic party.
27-0 at the University of Iowa
It’s not the score of a Hawkeye football game. It’s the number of Democrats versus the number of Republicans in the University of Iowa history department, and it has Iowans in an uproar. So, too, do charges published by Mark Bauerlein that left-wing bias has influenced the department’s hiring process. In response to the revelations, department chair Colin Gordon announced that the department had committed no wrongdoing, and neither he nor the university has expressed any concern about the total absence of intellectual diversity. Rarely have the hypocrisy and mendacity of academia been so thoroughly exposed as in the history department’s damage-control campaign.
Professor Gordon contended that the history department cannot discriminate against Republican or conservative job applicants because it does not know the political ideology of applicants. But the University’s own hiring manual states that search committees must “assess ways the applicants will bring rich experiences, diverse backgrounds, and ideology to the university community.” So they are obligated to understand applicants’ ideology, and to make sure not to overlook people with differing ideologies.
Determining a historian’s ideological inclinations is actually very easy in most cases. When I applied to the University of Iowa history department for a professorship in the United States and world affairs, my résumé listed membership in the National Organization of Scholars, which is an organization that everyone in academia knows to be ideologically to the right of the average academic organization. A quick search on Google or Amazon, moreover, reveals that my two books on the Vietnam War have widely been characterized as conservative.
Read it all, the university comes off as tapdancing around a real issue and staunchly defending their ideological uniformity. So much for academic freedom and cultural diversity. American colleges are increasingly diverse in race and gender but are frighteningly uniform in their embedded group-think. That rigid control, increasingly authoritarian and intolerant is the road to a police state.
Here's the article by Mark Bauerlein from the Des Moines Register. (I have no idea why Moyar failed to link it. Thank heavens for search engines.)
But last May the question did arise, and in response an officer in Iowa's Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity named Jan Waterhouse clarified its meaning: "Associational preference within the University policy has been interpreted to include political affiliation."
So why, then, does the history department in the university have 27 registered Democrats and 0 registered Republicans? The most obvious political affiliation, party membership, falls completely on one side. Despite the sizable Republican population of Iowa, not a single representative has made it into the history faculty ranks.
Think of what would happen if other diversities suffered the same disparate outcome. A department of all men would spark an outcry, and rightly so. But nobody seems to worry about the political skew. Waterhouse's statement appears in a response to a complaint of discrimination on "associational preference" grounds filed by a candidate for a history post.
The real problem, as Bauerlein points out is this:
In hard-science fields, the issue isn't important, but in value-heavy areas of the humanities and history, political diversity is crucial. Students should hear the full range of opinion on open and controversial issues. Furthermore, employees and job candidates need to feel that their politics will not affect their status. That is why the non-discrimination statement includes "associational preference" in its list, and why "associational preference" covers political affiliation.
Humanities and history can be heavily impacted by who is teaching and how facts are interpreted. The lockstep uniformity of the University of Iowa history department practically guarantees that there will be a uniformly rigid interpretation of history in a particular direction. That is no longer instruction. It is indoctrination.