Interview with a Conservative Professor

Soldier for the Right

It’s nice to read something from an actual conservative at University of Colorado, especially when he more or less debunks the “liberal stronghold” narrative that one hears about the place.  The conservative professor in question has this to say about Ward Churchill, being a conservative, and other such things:

Today, while Kanner doesn’t shy away from questions about [an incident involving a heated exchange with a pacifist student], he’d clearly rather talk about teaching, revolutionary politics (hence his Che and Marx writings), poetry (give him Rudyard Kipling any time) or his Catholic faith (the works of St. Augutine). He’d rather talk about media indifference to conservative events and classes at CU because “if nobody protests, it’s not exciting to be covered, I guess.”

As for the hoopla surrounding a certain ex-professor, Kanner shrugs and says, “Ward Churchill is an anomaly.” His beef with the fired radical professor has less to do with his “beliefs or doctrines” and more to do with “his accreditation.” After all, he says with a smile, “I know plenty of loony guys on the right.”

I actually got this story in the email because I’ve got a Google Alert scanning the Internet for mentions of University of Colorado’s proposed [fill-in-the-blank] in Conservative Thought and Policy.  (I’m not sure, from reading the news stories, whether this is going to be a department, one chair in the Poli Sci department, or something else.)  I personally started out thinking that it’s a sign that yet another segment of the nation is caving to loudmouth pressure groups, but if the Chancellor’s claim that the professor need not be conservative is genuine (Stanley Fish, upon hearing that, wrote a column saying that he wanted the job if that were the case), it might not be a bad move.  Of course, as one of the commentators on Fish’s blog noted, one could hire five liberal academics for what they’re offering one conservative one, but I suppose conservatives not only want more academic jobs but better pay than the rest of us who just teach classes as well.  I imagine they’ll get what they want; they’ve already cowed the television journalists.

But back to the article about Kanner: Despite that university’s use in popular accounts as a morality tale about “tenured radicals,” Kanner himself has a different take on how the campus actually runs:

While Kanner, 52, an untenured political science instructor at the University of Colorado, is “all for anything that creates more faculty jobs,” he thinks equating the campus with a laboratory for left-wing radicalism is silly.

“The campus reflects the normal amount of liberals and conservatives you’d find in any group of 18- to 25-year-olds. I don’t perceive this huge force of liberalism,” says Kanner, adding that he sees no great imbalance between the two groups in the faculty, either.

Sure, there are politically active students and faculty, but, “There are probably more religious groups among students than political groups.” Plus, more faculty than a lot of people think are either “politically obtuse” or simply apolitical, living in “their own monastic enclaves.”

I know that listening to people actually on the ground and in the situation strikes some as a bit naive, I’m inclined to look around at UGA, the supposed “blue island in a red sea” here in Georgia, and say about the same.  I wonder how many of the bogey-man campuses are the same.

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Filed under Political Entertainment, teaching

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