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Left or Right, Politicians Shouldn’t Be Telling Academics What They’re Allowed to Teach

The campaign to ban Critical Race Theory and other ‘woke’ dogmas channels the same illiberal spirit that conservatives claim to oppose.

· 6 min read
Left or Right, Politicians Shouldn’t Be Telling Academics What They’re Allowed to Teach
Wikimedia Commons photos Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaking at the 2021 Student Action Summit.

The preponderance of Democrats within American academia has been well-documented for many years. One 2018 survey of the political affiliations of 5,197 PhD-holding professors from top-ranked liberal-arts colleges, for example, found Democrat-to-Republican ratios in the 5-to-1 to 8-to-1 range for such subjects as chemistry, economics, mathematics, physics, and computer science. Much higher ratios could be observed in the social sciences and humanities, including psychology (16-to-1), languages (21-to-1), art (40-to-1), sociology (44-to-1), and religion (70-to-1). Anthropology and communications, meanwhile, generated divide-by-zero errors, as there wasn’t a single (self-confessed) registered Republican in the sample.

The same kind of bias is evidenced in Hollywood; as well as the tech industry, whose leaders often serve as gatekeepers as to what political ideas and language may be communicated on electronic media. A Center for Responsive Politics survey published in Vox, measuring employee donations of $200 or more to candidates in the 2018 US midterm elections, found that among funds donated by Netflix employees to either Democratic or Republican candidates, 99.6 percent went to Democrats. At Twitter, the corresponding figure was 98.7 percent; at Airbnb, 97.8 percent; at Apple, 97.5 percent; at Google, 96 percent; at Facebook, 94.5 percent; at PayPal, 92.2 percent; at Microsoft, 91.7 percent; and at Amazon, 89.3 percent. It’s no wonder that members of these professional subcultures sometimes express shock when Democrats lose an election: They’ve simply never met anyone within their milieus who supports (or, at least, admits to supporting) the Republican Party.

Given this, it’s understandable that many American conservatives have become enraged by what they see as an uneven cultural playing field—as symbolized by universities selectively de-platforming conservative speakers, investigating (or even cancelling) academics who refuse to toe the expected ideological line, and promoting pseudo-scientific notions concerning gender and biological sex fluidity. Having observed progressives exploiting their control over the commanding heights of education, mass entertainment, and electronic media, some right-wing firebrands are trying to hit back with those institutions that they control—specifically, Republican-controlled state legislatures and gubernatorial offices.

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