Thursday, November 02, 2006
Daniel Drezner On Michael Bérubé
UPDATE: Oh look! There it is, right above this post, x-posted from Drezner’s site! Well, alright then.
About the only thing I like about this debate is how it forces both sides of the political spectrum to subvert their traditional arguments and appropriate the other side’s rhetoric. Conservatives wind up arguing that the bias problem is a structural one – and therefore the way to fix it is through some kind of ideological affirmative action program. Liberals, when confronted with the numbers, nevertheless insist that the academy is a strict meritocracy with no old-boy networks whatsoever – and that aspiring conservative academics should quit whining and pick themselves up by their bootstraps.
But Daniel likes Bérubé’s book quite a lot anyway. I’ll take this opportunity to editorialize that I actually don’t like this element of the debate Daniel speaks of, although I concede it has a trainwreck rhetorical fascination, so I can never resist rubbernecking. I have termed this sort of dialectical do-se-do poetic justice as fairness. (I’m rather proud of that old post.)
Daniel makes the following critical point. Bérubé “acknowledges that, ‘there’s really no question, then, that campuses are teeming with liberal faculty, especially when campuses are compared with the rest of the country.’ This is explained away as a matter of personal choice – liberals are more likely to pick a job that’s not terribly remunerative but has lots of security and flexibility.” My distinct impression is that Michael’s argument wasn’t really this materialistically narrow, but I will await his clarifications.
Since my own cute attempt at pro wrestling humor is, by general acclaim, somewhat of a flop - oh well, you try to tell a joke - I’ll just emphasize that I am, on the whole, very impressed by Michael’s book. Sitting down to read, I had my mental list of clever, wise, pertinent things that should be said on the subject and, by and large, Michael got to them first - and a few others besides. Which is not to say that I have been completely reduced to wrestling jokes, oh no! But that can wait a few days.