New York Times writer tries to open his mind; his readers try to slam it shut

Man with mouth taped shutKudos to Nicholas Kristof for writing an opinion piece at the New York Times acknowledging what we all know to be true, which is that self-styled “liberals” are extremely intolerant, which means that they’re not actually liberal at all:

Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.


I’ve been thinking about this because on Facebook recently I wondered aloud whether universities stigmatize conservatives and undermine intellectual diversity. The scornful reaction from my fellow liberals proved the point.

“Much of the ‘conservative’ worldview consists of ideas that are known empirically to be false,” said Carmi.

“The truth has a liberal slant,” wrote Michelle.

“Why stop there?” asked Steven. “How about we make faculties more diverse by hiring idiots?”

To me, the conversation illuminated primarily liberal arrogance — the implication that conservatives don’t have anything significant to add to the discussion. My Facebook followers have incredible compassion for war victims in South Sudan, for kids who have been trafficked, even for abused chickens, but no obvious empathy for conservative scholars facing discrimination.

I can recommend the entire article. As I said, Kristof definitely deserves kind words and attention for daring to state such a thing in the New York Times’ pages. And I use the word “daring” deliberately because it implies courage, and it must have taken courage to set himself up to be on the receiving edge of the opprobrium heaped upon him. The more than 1300 comments posted to the article before commenting closed make it plain that he was casting pearls before aggressive, nasty, close-minded swine.

Thus, after Kristof carefully explained that liberals are denying their own principles when they refuse to allow conservatives access to free speech or the marketplace of ideas, he was savaged. The following are those comments that hundreds of New York Times readers rated as wonderful representations of pure and holy “liberal” thought.  I would define them differently.  To me, they’re representative of people who know deep down that their worldview cannot stand up to the rigors of that marketplace of ideas:

SocratesDowntown Verona, NJ
But what are some of these conservative views that secular, liberal America is missing out on ?

That the Bible is the literal word of God ?

That virgins can have babies ?

That evolution is not real ?

That ‘the Lord works in mysterious ways’ ?

That traditional male domination and misogyny are the answers to society’s prayers ?

That Greed Over People is a respectable life philosophy ?

Liberalism has a fantastic record of success in Canada, Northern Europe, Japan, and even here in parts of the United States in spite of decades of slander and libel of those liberal success stories by ‘conservatives’.

Diversity of intelligent thought is terrific, but it’s challenging to find intelligent thought in conservatism.

‘Steven’ had it exactly right — you don’t diversify with idiots – it’s intellectual suicide.

George Yancey faces ‘more problems as a Christian’ in academia because he’s likely adopted a 4th century worldview that’s at odds with the realities of the 21st century.

The modern world has very little use for religion and conservatism because they’re predicated on intellectual child abuse, authoritarianism, supernatural fantasies and man’s discomfort with mortal death.

What’s not to scoff at ?

Reality does in fact have a liberal bias…..that’s why religion, authoritarianism and conservatism is slowly but surely collapsing over time like any good house of cards.

Perhaps the reality is that conservatism brings nothing but the null set to the academic table.
May 7, 2016 at 1:17 p.m.


DMSSan Diego
You would not believe the conservative b s some of my college English students spew. I just failed a “research” paper in which a student claimed same sex parents are more likely to harm their children and that homosexuality spreads disease. What am I supposed to do with students like this? He is not the first one to drop my jaw.

I do not entertain stupidity in my classroom, but stupidity finds us anyway. It is commonly generated by young conservatives who cannot even hear other viewpoints because being loyal to their beliefs means being completely closed to active thinking and being utterly intolerant of others. I once had a student who argued that there should not be any government money spent for elderly care because “their families should take care of them.” I asked him what we should do with old women who outlive their husbands, and even their children, should we send them to live under a bridge or something? His blue-eyed blank stare haunts me. He could not conceive that a woman who followed the rules would even end up in such a situation. It was beyond his ability to think about, being so invested in the “right way” to live equating with the “only” way to live.

I guess you could say I remain a liberal in my classroom because I have so little choice. I have to look myself in the mirror. I have to be able to sleep at night.
May 7, 2016 at 4:49 p.m.


Mark ThomasonClawson, Mich
Universities value intellectual honesty. They value honest inquiry into the unknown.

Conservatives start with the answer, then seek to prove it fits the question. That is the definition of conservative today. Maybe it was not always that way, but it is today.

Of course that is stigmatized. It ought to be. It has no place in a university. They can go work in a psuedo-think-tank where they are paid for “proving” the answer wanted by the guy with the money. That is not a university’s place.
May 7, 2016 at 5:04 p.m.


DF PaulLos Angeles
Hogwash. What’s a conservative? Someone who opposes science and the use of data to consider arguments? Someone who believes that faith equals truth? If so, then it’s hardly surprising few academics are conservative since this point of view — which is what much of modern “conservatism” has evolved into — is exactly counter to the proper mission of a modern university. This isn’t to say universities and faculties aren’t subject to all the clubism and groupthink of any organized endeavor. But how many economics professors really argue in Econ 101 that a communist state is better than democratic capitalism? Precious few I’m sure. “Liberalism”, especially on economics, now encompasses what used to be the province of “conservatives” — a belief in capitalism and free trade as the method to best improve economic growth. In that sense, the “conservatives” won long ago. Today’s “conservatives” are really the ruling class trying to destroy the use of evidence and make a case, backed only by false evidence, for low taxes for the wealthy. That’s not conservatism, that’s lobbying.
May 7, 2016 at 5:17 p.m.


CEDRichmond CA
It’s not that conservatives aren’t bright; it’s that, for the most part, they are narrow-minded and are sure they have the right answers. (Think William Buckley Jr or Paul Ryan or Thomas Friedman.) Most that I know or know of don’t have much exposure to the world outside their ideological strata, and not much interested in such exposure; it’s part of being conservative. Who would want such narrow thinkers and true believers to be part of academia?
Martin Luther King Jr was not an evangelical conservative; not sure how Kristof could think that!?! He was inclusive of everyone, and his vision was huge and forward-thinking.
And those in the article who compared discrimination against blacks and gays to discrimination against conservatives in academia must be living on another, very sheltered planet.
Yes, each end of the spectrum thinks they are right, but I find most liberals open to new information and ideas, unlike the religious-book-thumpers (talk about being conservative: basing your beliefs and your life on texts thousands of years old).
And, most importantly, conservatives don’t seem to care who gets hurt by their imposing their narrow strict beliefs on others and government, whether about climate change, abortion and family planning, poverty, the death penalty, war, religious tolerance, gender orientation, and so forth.
May 7, 2016 at 3:49 p.m.


Gene WrightCalifornia
I’m sorry to say this, Mr. Kristof, but your liberal friends with the “illiberal” ideas are correct. No university has a duty to hire a professor whose ideas are demonstrably false just to balance the books. Any professor who would identify themselves as a “conservative professor” is not a true professor. There is no pursuit of truth if one is sure they already know the answer. I am still waiting for the first Christian Creationist “scientist” to publish a paper finding that Darwin was right all along.
Truth does not have a liberal bias, but it does have a bias. Academia entails a commitment to changing one’s mind when the facts demand it. When conservatives meet that standard, let them in.
But not before.
May 7, 2016 at 5:14 p.m.

And it goes on this way, for hundreds of comments: Conservatives are closed minded; conservatives refuse to look at data; conservatives are racist. And all this bile comes from people who:

Believe in anthropogenic climate change despite the fact that every single prediction based upon this theory has failed and upon the fact that all scientific institutions have had to falsify present and historic data to continue to promote the theory in the face of massive factual failures. So much for a reality-based, science-oriented mindset.

Believe that blacks are so dysfunctional that they must be the perpetual beneficiaries of special government programs.

Believe that external indicia of sex, such as penises or vaginas; internal indicia of sex, such as ovaries and testes; and DNA indicia of sex, such as XX and XY chromosomes, mean nothing — a person’s sexual identity is whatever he/she/it decides he/she/it wants it to be on a given day, and everyone has to fall in line.

Believe that Islam doesn’t have a problem even though 10% of practicing Muslims bomb, stab, behead, and shoot as many non-Muslims (or wrong Muslims) as possible, and these 10% get moral support from another 40% or so of the world’s Muslims.

Believe that exposing college students to different ideas could cause them lasting mental trauma.

Believe that a government-managed economy is the least racist, most fair, and most efficient way to run an economy.

Believe that “gun free zones” will deter shooting, rather than recognizing that they are the exact equivalent of places hanging signs saying “We’re completely unarmed here.  It will take at least 10-30 minutes for the police, with their weapons, to come to protect us.  If you’re crazy and want to kill a lot of people in a short time, we’re the place for you.”

Believe that people are so imperfect they must be managed by government experts, but fail to explain why these experts are any better than the people they seek to control.

I could go on, but I think you all are making your own lists.

The only thing these illiberals are correct about, and it underlies all their panicked claims that conservatives must be silenced, is that if people are exposed to serious conservative ideas — e.g., ideas about classical scientific principles (using the scientific method to prove or disprove a theory), about biological reality, about economic reality, and about the need for a strong defensive army as a preventative to enemy attacks — the conservative view would inevitably prevail.

The old saying is that “Liberals are so open-minded their brains fall out.” Reading the comments to Kristof’s very good and brave article, I think one could easily modify the saying to read “Illiberals are so open-minded that, if they actually had any brains, they would fall out.”