Opinion | Columns

There's no right answer

I am not conservative by any stretch of the imagination. Every fall break I have gone to campaign for liberal causes, and as an underclassman I was on the board of the Columbia University Democrats. But the more time I spend in class the more sympathy I have for conservatives, not necessarily for their beliefs, but for the position they have in public discourse at Columbia. My perspective may be skewed since I am a Middle Eastern studies major, but in my classes it is taken for granted that the set of liberal positions is a list of objective truths. I don’t think it is funny when professors crack jokes about the IQs of Republicans. It makes it more difficult to have genuine political discussions at best, and it perpetuates the stereotype of the Ivy League as a circle-jerk of liberalism at worst.

In Leo Schwartz’s last column, he talks about how once we leave Columbia we will leave the domain of constant self-congratulation and enter a world that is skeptical of our institution. It is not that professors collect empirical evidence to support liberal claims that makes the world sneer at places like Columbia. It is the self-righteous attitude, the certainty of conviction that comes from an institution whose purpose is to foster doubt and balanced discourse and critical thinking. I find myself writing papers in which I haven’t even had time to consider whether I agree with my thesis, because all of the reading is on one side of the political spectrum. In fact, in many cases, I am not really sure what the spectrum of opinion on a topic is, because I have only been exposed to a single part of it. I understand that universities are places where professors can espouse their beliefs. I recognize that tenure is meant to protect professors’ ability to maintain opinion. But it should not be the case that students feel uncomfortable voicing dissent because of the tone a professor has set.

In one of my classes, the token conservative occasionally responds to the professor’s matter-of-fact claims by rehashing basic tenets of conservative ideology. Everyone in the class rolls his or her eyes, but I have come to appreciate it because it is nice to at least be aware that there are differing opinions. Opinions really aren’t of much value without at least the pretense of deviation from them. In my classes almost nobody makes conservative comments, which leads me to wonder whether Columbia actually has no conservatives or whether they don’t feel comfortable enough discussing their opinions in public. I don’t know which is more disturbing. I think we should respect whatever diversity of opinion we have on campus instead of making jokes about how President Bush couldn’t pronounce “nuclear” properly.

I don’t mind listening to lectures about the military industrial complex or the destruction that capitalism has caused. I do mind realizing in the first lecture that my professor has an agenda so apparent that it stifles the ability of the student to make judgments or suppresses his or her comfort when it comes to bringing up issues. 

That being said, I have had some professors whose lectures manage to communicate opinion without condescension. I have had classes with respectful discussions where everyone felt comfortable sharing opinions, so long as they were supported by evidence—it is possible. I am not saying professors cannot have opinions. I am not saying that an objective truth within a field is unimaginable, but I do think it is the responsibility of academics to foster a tone that is conducive to learning and—just as important—to debate.

Jake Goldwasser is a Columbia College senior majoring in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African studies. Thinking Twice runs alternate Thursdays.

To respond to this column, or to submit an op-ed, contact opinion@columbiaspectator.com

Comments

Plain text

  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Your username will not be displayed if checked
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
A consideration... posted on

While I wholeheartedly agree with your premise, I think the real problem is not the lack of discourse, but rather the changing political climate. The consevative platform has become increasingly hyper-extremist, and anti-intellectual. Say what you will about David Frum, Victor Davis Hanson, and George Will, but one cannot say that these men are not intellectuals. But, as it stands today, their voices have been marginalized - drowned out amid the noise of birthers, Tea Partiers, religious zealots, and "joe six-pack" anti-intellectuals. How can an honest, good-faith discourse occur at a place like Columbia, when one side abhores oneof the central undergirding principles of the university: intellectualism.

+1
-68
-1
A Conservative posted on

I am a conservative and I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. Conservatism is the rational conclusions people come to when they understand basic economics and human nature. There is nothing anti-intellectual about believing in the basic tenants of the free market. How are the the ghetto-culture urban poor and "Occupy Wall Street 99-percenters" any more intellectual than the groups you mentioned?

+1
+112
-1
Anonymous posted on

'ghetto-culture urban poor'? Are you kidding me? Yes, you are indeed a republican.

+1
-106
-1
Mike Hoskinson posted on

One way we Conservatives spot liberals is by their condescending attitude and complete lack of facts or curiosity. Congratulations, you're a liberal

+1
+115
-1
Priscilla Prather posted on

Cant help but notice the conservative bashing came from an "anonymous liberal". Speaks volumes.

+1
+46
-1
Steve posted on

Obviuosly spoken by someone (anonymous at that) who has never set foot in the inner city who stands from afar on the upper east side and pontificates on who is an who isn't a "Republican."

+1
+9
-1
Cali posted on

he'd get ripped to shreds in the inner city- they can smell a milquetoast a mile off lolol.

+1
+6
-1
Cali posted on

he'd get ripped to shreds in the inner city- they can smell a milquetoast a mile off lolol.

+1
-3
-1
Anonymous posted on

So it's okay that one can label republicans but someone else can't put a label on a democrat? Typical liberal hypocrisy.

By the way, I'm an Independent.

+1
+11
-1
Stephen Luftschein CC'85 posted on

I'm truly sorry you feel that way. It is simply factually incorrect. I know it will be difficult in the environment in which you currently exist, but idea that current crop of TRUE conservative (meaning historically conservative, not social conservative) thinkers and leaders are anti intellectual, simply does not hold up to even a cursory examination.

More importantly, it is classic conservatism that relies on intellectualism. It is conservatism's faith in the individual, over the collective of modern liberalism, that is the birth of all intellectual activity, one's own mind.

+1
+82
-1
dale kuser posted on

well said!

+1
+3
-1
dale kuser posted on

well said!

+1
+5
-1
dale kuser posted on

well said!

+1
-7
-1
GS 2004 posted on

Even if your premise were correct, one has nothing to do with the other. If you are talking to someone who is conservative at Columbia, there is very little chance they are anti-intellectual. So even giving your premise, that is no reason not to engage in honest, good-faith discourse with a fellow Columbian.

Can you appreciate how maddening this is for an intelligent conservative at a place like Columbia, that the moment you "out" yourself for your beliefs you are talked to with disgust as if you are Rush Limbaugh or Joe The Plumber? It's interesting how in a liberal bastion of supposed inclusion and acceptance of diversity, it's not ok to stereotype, or generalize, or apply perceived group qualities to an individual...unless that individual disagrees with your politics. Then every hateful stereotype imaginable is not only accepted, but encouraged. Again, please try to appreciate how disgusted that might make someone in my position after a few dozen or a few hundred times of trying to have a civil discussion about politics.

+1
+66
-1
Sandi posted on

Brilliant! Thank you for posting this!

+1
+2
-1
Anonymous posted on

I considered myself conservative until the last couple elections. These new "conservatives" embarrass me. They want big government to control social values, but little government for business only. Well that's not how conservative values were meant to be, it meant little government interference on anything, not just selectively. The sooner the social conservatives are thrown out for the religionists they are, the more quickly we can move back to rational debate and discussions on policy.

I would also agree that the conservatives have picked up a lot of mental low performers. Particularly of the type that are ultra nationalistic hoodlums we now see in Europe.

+1
-37
-1
Eugenia posted on

Libertine lifestyles necessarily call for bigger government as mothers no longer marry the father of their children thus depending on government to be the father. Libertine sexuality leads to the taking of other lives as in the slaughter of innocent life rendering "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" null and void if your chance at life is snuffed out. Promoting of perversity necessarily means promoting irresponsibility which logically ultimately leads away from personal responsibility. Get past stage 1 thinking. You'll realize that the extremism of libertarianism meets right up with big government libs.

+1
-1
-1
Barry D posted on

Your labels are hilarious . Anti-intellectual ...like you are an intellectual ! Please !
You have just stereotyped a whole group of people with one broad brush . NO wonder we all can't get along.

+1
+31
-1
Dan B posted on

Wow, you are exactly what the article is talking about. Could you label anymore?? So you have to be a complete "intellectual" to be respected? I know many intellectuals who zero common sense and inability to manage much unless its theory, or textbook in a classroom so to generalize like that is fairly pompous. Tell me what you know about the Tea Party? Have you met any members or sat in on a meeting? I think watching the comedy channel and biased media had tainted your real life knowledge.

+1
+36
-1
Neal Adler posted on

The liberal media would have you believe that the vast majority of conservatives/tea partiers (to use your words) are racists, homophobes, bigots, mysoginists, zenophopes, and any other term one can think of. While there are some, the vast majority of conservatives (or as I would refer to myself a conservatarian) believe in limited government, a strong national defense, less regulations, lower taxes, less intrusive government, and live and let live. Back in the day I was a liberal democrat when it really meant something, equal opportunity, a decent wage, good working conditions, etc. Now liberals don't just equal opportunity, they want equal outcome, demonizing success and imposing their views on everyone else.

+1
+51
-1
Clare posted on

You are exactly right. I would also like to add that the liberals of today are not truly liberals - they are progressives. Progressivism is what is destroying our country. I truly believe the only way to save the country is to return to the Constitution. But I probably don't have to tell you that :)

+1
+10
-1
small government liberal posted on

I agree that demonizing your opponents leads to bad discourse, and with regard to bigotry, everyone (including conservatives and liberals, intellectuals, you and me) would benefit from critically examining their assumptions about race, gender, nationality, and the other categories into which humans place one another. You mention that you are for "limited government," but also "a strong national defense"; did you know that the military receives about 30% of the federal budget? Most Republicans and Tea Partiers also support strong drug laws and deportation of undocumented immigrants--policies that lead to high levels government intrusion in the form of FBI raids and imprisonment of nonviolent Americans--and anti-abortion laws--government mandates on what Americans can do with their own bodies. So if there's any truth to the name-calling, it's that many Tea Party types think "small government" and think of policies that keep the feds out of the lives of law-abiding white men, rather than striving for the more noble, more difficult, more American goal of protecting the rights of all the people who live here. I hope you really do support limited government and equal opportunity for all people, because the political right (and the left) needs more people who do.

+1
0
-1
Benjamin Smith posted on

Why is it that academics are so interested in labeling themselves as "intellectuals?" The article brought up a great point- how liberals were always attacking the IQ's of Conservative thinkers/leaders. I mean common... you just labeled your opponents as being "anti-intellectual." What does that even mean? You do realize that there were plenty of Drs, lawyers, philosophers, "intellectuals" at the Wannsee conference right? To save your google search- the Wannsee conference was an S.S. held meeting to discuss the logistics of the "final solution to the Jewish question." Were they "anti-intellectual?"

+1
+14
-1
Dave Sharp posted on

You say you agree wholeheartedly, and then on the other hand take the rest of your response to refute your stated agreement. Quote from a non intellectual like me, Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

+1
+4
-1
Toodles posted on

You're verbosity says so very little. Generalities are important, but you use no examples. You attack what you refuse to understand and by refusing to engage with those who you only think you understand you perpetuate the problem that the author was alluding to. And by the way (BTW), intellectualism pales in comparison to wisdom. Wisdom is gained by understanding, understanding comes from engaging others and engaging others takes logic coupled with humility, not dogmatism and arrogance. The reason one remains dogmatic is due to a lack of logic and humility.

+1
+17
-1
Susan posted on

I'm sorry but I just can't let this pass. As you are obviously a liberal with an IQ that is "off the grid", I can't help but notice you misspelled abhors.

+1
+9
-1
Susan posted on

I'm sorry but I just can't let this pass. As you are obviously a liberal with an IQ that is "off the grid", I can't help but notice you misspelled abhors.

+1
+4
-1
Susan posted on

I'm sorry but I just can't let this pass. As you are obviously a liberal with an IQ that is "off the grid", I can't help but notice you misspelled abhors.

+1
+2
-1
Susan posted on

I'm sorry but I just can't let this pass. As you are obviously a liberal with an IQ that is "off the grid", I can't help but notice you misspelled abhors.

+1
-4
-1
Susan posted on

I'm sorry but I just can't let this pass. As you are obviously a liberal with an IQ that is "off the grid", I can't help but notice you misspelled abhors.

+1
+4
-1
Anonymous posted on

Never confuse intellectualism with logic and reasoning.

+1
+3
-1
DilloTank posted on

"The conservative platform has become increasingly hyper-extremist, and anti-intellectual."

Really? Says who? 'Liberals', that's who, your professors? It is the political left that is anti-intellectual. I have been looking for years to find an informed, thoughtful 'liberal' voice that can intelligently articulate an informed left-leaning point of view.

Guess what? There is no such thing. Leftism is rooted in misinformation, ad hominem attacks (like the one in your post above) and strawman arguments demonizing conservatives and the conservative position. (not the real conservative position, but the strawman's position) I have yet to encounter a 'liberal' and can accurately articulate the true conservative position. They can only maintain their status as 'liberals' (a profound misnomer, there is nothing liberal about modern 'liberals) by mischaracterizing the conservative view.

Do college students these days know what an ad hominem attack or a strawman argument is? Sometimes I wonder, the do not seem to be able to avoid using them, or recognizing one when they encounter it.

Sure, you can find 'joe-sixpack' conservatives, but they probably have more common sense then all of the professors at your school combined. They live in a world where being wrong costs them their job. At a university, professor can be completely disconnected from reality and continue to teach without fear of anyone daring to challenge their hateful and misguided, infantile ideas.

'Liberals' are basically defined by an inability or an unwillingness to engage issues and think objectively. Instead, they are guided by cliches, like 'one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter', 'Ronald Reagan declared war on the middle class', 'Bush lied, thousands died', 'If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor'.

These cliches are infantile and patently false statements, yet questioning these absurd doctrines is tantamount to heresy on a modern university campus. Which leads me to the conclusion that the modern university should be considered unconstitutional, is the equivalent of a government sponsored 'establishment of religion'.

+1
+6
-1
Anonymous posted on

Unfortunately the same is true in the other direction. I went to college to get my degree as a Fine Arts Major, and a minor in Telecommunications, Spanish linguistics and Latin American Politics. Yet I am called closed minded, bigoted and dimwitted for believing what I believe. I am a conservative and I am also respectful of any opinion. I am not respectful of someone using emotional jabs to either denigrate someone that doesn't follow their beliefs or to make themselves feel superior. That goes for both liberal or conservative. As soon as a conversation goes that way I feel disappointed for that person and know that we will have the impasse that always follows. But, on the same point we need to continue to talk or we will have this stalemate forever. Schools that push one side without discourse allowed are, to me, useless.

+1
-1
-1
Lisa posted on

You know...your assertion that the conservative platform has become hyper-extremist only came about because you've been brainwashed to believe that anyone who's NOT liberal is an extremist. That's the power of propaganda and the Democrats have mastered it.
Anyone a millimeter to the right of Obama is labeled an extremist.

+1
0
-1
April Box posted on

I just looked up the definition of "Intellectualism". Very interesting. Not necessairily complementary.

+1
+5
-1
JDHenry posted on

Congrats...must be nice going through life believing you are the intellectual. Wow, evidently anyone who disagrees with your worldview is "anti-intellectual."

+1
+1
-1
Anonymous posted on

You are absolutely right. The liberal consensus should be able to defend itself rationally and not devolve into mockery or groupthink. There is far too much smug self-satisfaction among liberals on this campus. Hope you do not get too much grief from your liberal friends for acknowledging this. However:
(1) Part of the problem is the intellectual bankruptcy of conservatives on the national scene. Conservatism used to mean the straight-up defense of privilege, which was distasteful but intellectually coherent. But Republicans today are simply out of their minds. How else do you explain the vitriol directed against Obamacare, which was designed along the lines proposed by the Heritage Foundation?
(2) It is easy to expose yourself to the conservative viewpoint -- just read National Review or the Weekly Standard. It may raise your blood pressure, but a good liberal should enjoy engaging with their arguments and rebutting them.
(3) There may be few conservatives on campus, but there are even fewer Marxists or libertarians. True diversity would mean having more of them too.
(4) Lots of people on campus have opinions they don't feel comfortable discussing in public -- just read the comments sections here or on Bwog! You'll find conservative opinions as well as plenty of good old-fashioned racism and sexism.

+1
-8
-1
Stephen Luftschein CC'85 posted on

Let me disavow you of the basic premise of your comment (the rest I largely dealt with in my comment below).

Is it conceivable to you that the MODERN liberal perspective is the one that cannot be defended "rationally". Until YOU can imagine that concept, than you have not begun to practice the very idea that you begin your comment, and I would imagine, all of your political thought with. i.e. the attempt to deal with all ideas as objectively as possible.

As a side note, here's a simple rational defense of modern conservatism, i.e. CLASSIC liberalism, and against modern liberalism, i.e. classic utopianism. One system, tried only once, fully in history, was the greatest success in the human record, the other, has failed each and EVERY time it has been tried, without exception.

As someone who is painfully logical, there is no better argument for me.

Btw, as a FACTUAL note, the Heritage health care proposals were simply an attempt to find an alternative to what looked like the run away train of "HillaryCare" which was going to be a full socialization of the United States Health care system, NOT a proposal made separate from that discussion.

What the current crop of Progressives (who, like ALL Progressives, are specifically ANTI liberal) learned from that failure, is to adopt the language of the right (remember, what is now viewed as conservatism was at one time liberalism, we used to be described loosely as a Western Liberal Democracy, for example) is the same lesson they have been learning since Wilson - that the implementation of ANY system which stresses centralization over the individual will ALWAYS lead to the furthering of that system, i.e. consistently grow over time, as all bureaucracies do.

It is also a demonstration of the loss of focus of the conservative movement during the Clinton years, largely because of the seeming success of their ideas as reflected most clearly in Clinton's "The era of big government is over" speech reflected.

+1
+26
-1
Anonymous posted on

This is pedestrian thought, at best. I went to Harvard, went to a Clinton rally, heard Al Gore speak, went to Northeastern Law School and otherwise experienced the culture of the Left completely. Those experiences (and living in Massachusetts for 11 years) taught me how ill-prepared people of the Left are when it comes to actually debating issues. Once I started thinking for myself and questioning the logic of the nanny State attempting to solve poverty, homelessness, while retreating from fighting evil abroad, I started moving to the Right.

For example, it continues to surprise me how many people do not realize that the Communists in Vietnam surrendered in the Paris Peace Accords, before our Leftist Congress (represented most prominently by John Kerry), welched on our commitment to support the South Vietnamese and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Since my family and church sponsored Vietnamese Boat People fleeing from the Communists' ensuing mass slaughter, I was personally offended by the ignorance of evil displayed by so many in demonizing the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. The absence of serious intellectual thought regarding good and evil, the genocidal history of Communism, and the power of good American men and women to defeat evil (Communism, Islamic extremism, homocidal despots, abortionists) at home and abroad is saddening.

You mention that we can find "conservative opinions as well as good old-fashioned racism and sexism" by reading comments sections here. This is a despicable remark. It is impossible to overlook the fact that you equate conservative thought with racism and sexism. Not only is this generalization disgusting, it is also historically inaccurate. I wonder if you can fathom that it was the Right that passed the Civil Rights Act of '64? Do you understand that it was prominent Democrats (Strom Thurmond and Robert Byrd) who adamantly opposed and filibustered the legislation?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1964

The most fervent opposition to the bill came from Senator Strom Thurmond (D-SC): "This so-called Civil Rights Proposals, which the President has sent to Capitol Hill for enactment into law, are unconstitutional, unnecessary, unwise and extend beyond the realm of reason. This is the worst civil-rights package ever presented to the Congress and is reminiscent of the Reconstruction proposals and actions of the radical Republican Congress."[13]

On the morning of June 10, 1964, Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) completed a filibustering address that he had begun 14 hours and 13 minutes earlier opposing the legislation.

Unlike the Left, which characterizes me as a Tea Party patriot as an arsonist, terrorist, and hostage-taker, we conservatives boast a proud heritage of addressing the opposition with civility and (gasp!) kindness. Here's Chris Christie leading the way: http://www.ijreview.com/2013/10/85842-agree-policies-christie-crushes-woman-place-shed-rather/

As for the reduced number of Marxists or libertarians on campus, I echo the thoughts of the commentator below.

+1
+36
-1
Dan B posted on

Please don't lump conservatives with Republicans....two different ideologies in 2013. Their more like Democratic Lites. Although, Conservatives are returning after seeing how weak the republican party has become.

+1
+11
-1
Benjamin Smith posted on

Yup. This shows the disconnect of the liberal perception on conservatives. Well stated. The truth is is that the ill-informed has been completely duped by a fascist media. The liberal left has a huge advantage over the conservative right. This advantage is the fact that running a successful PR campaign is a lot easier if you are dealing with a collectivist mindset. If there is one thing that separates liberals from conservatives it is their macro view of individualism. Conservatives tend to view this country as a collection of individuals. Liberals tend to view this country as a collection of cultures, races, identities, and classes.

+1
+16
-1
Benjamin Smith posted on

Again- calling conservatives "intellectually bankrupt" is a terrible mindset to have. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Hirohito (and their inner circles and generals/ministers) were highly intelligent, educated, philosophers, and intellectuals. The problem is is that intelligence is amoral. Intelligence can be used for good or for evil. This is why I value people (and ideas) of wisdom to "intellectuals." The tyrants I listed above all thought they were making the world a better place (as they killed over 100,000,000 people). That is the terrifying truth about humanity- ideas have consequences.

+1
+12
-1
DilloTank posted on

Anonymous provides a good example of the disconnect from reality I am referring to in my other post.

Look at this quote from the post above: "Conservatism used to mean the straight-up defense of privilege, which was distasteful but intellectually coherent."

What conservative has ever said that the conservative position is a "straight-up defense of privilege". Maybe European conservatism? Not American conservatism. (Does Anonymous know what a strawman argument is?)

This leads us to an important point about the words liberal and conservative, they are not so easily defined and are used in many different ways by different people and at different times in history, and in different parts of the world.

The irony is that American conservatives are, in reality, classical liberals. America is founded on classical liberalism. So, there are a lot of sources of confusion about what these words actually mean. In contemporary America conservatives believe that America should follow the constitution and 'liberals' are simply the ones indoctrinated by our public schools into believing that Republicans are ignorant greedy racists. Of course, if you follow the money, it is the Democrat Party that always votes for more funding for education and votes against holding teachers accountable and administrators accountable.

Now, look at this statement; "There may be few conservatives on campus, but there are even fewer Marxists or libertarians."

I have come to the conclusion that the modern American 'liberal' does not even know that he has a great affinity for the ideas of Karl Marx, or ideas of those that call themselves Marxists. As a matter of fact, at many campuses, there are more professors that openly identify as 'Marxist' then there are conservatives, and the rate of college professors that identify openly as Marxist exceeds the rate of those that identify as Marxist in the general population, probably by a factor of 100 or more. At some universities 'liberal' professors outnumber conservatives by 30-40:1. The modern American 'liberal' has been taught Marxist ideas as though they are objective observations. He does not know that he is being indoctrinated. The modern American 'liberal' is the proverbial fish that does not know that he is wet i.e. a Marxist.

Racism and sexism? Really? Did you know that it is the Democrat Party that is the party of racial division and hatred? You need to look into the history of the Democrat Party. It starts with it's support for black slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, opposing the civil rights movement all the way up to the 1950s. Then in the 1960s, the racial hatred shifts from stirring up hatred among whites against blacks, to stirring up hatred against Republicans i.e white conservatives and the party that was formed to abolish black slavery. Can anyone provide another example of a Southern 'Dixiecrat' that become a Republican besides Strom Thurmond? He is practically the only one.

Modern American 'liberalism is rooted in the distortion of history. Marxists believe that the study of history is one of the ways that the privileged class perpetuates it's position of privilege. The only way 'liberals' can maintain their world view is by ignoring or distorting history.

+1
-1
-1
Anonymous posted on

Thank you so much for writing this. The leftward views which were thrusted upon us are the reason I stopped pursuing a Political Science degree. I appreciate your opinion on something that is rarely ever mentioned on campus.

+1
+20
-1
Stephen Luftschein posted on

As an alum (CC'85) I find the comments as distressing as the article itself. It is one of the reasons I am distanced from the College and the University. Comments such as "Conservatism used to mean the straight-up defense of privilege, which was distasteful but intellectually coherent" are so absurd that they can only (taken as a given the intelligence of the writer) be the result of years of indoctrination.

This is nothing new, as it was the first goal of the Progressive movement to alter the American school system, so this has been going on for more than a century.
But the failure, for example, of this same writer to believe, honestly, that there are fewer Marxists at Columbia than conservatives is not humorous, it is truly frightening.

A suggestion to any students who might read this, would be to read Barry Goldwater's "Conscience of a Conservative". A book that should take no more than a few hours, an afternoon, to read. Nay, simply read the first 2 chapters (the rest is largely devoted to the specific political issues of that time). I can assure most of you that you'd be stunned by the words.

In addition, as with many, there is a confusion of SOCIAL conservatism, which is simply right wing Progressivism and as much a corruption of the term Conservative as is modern liberalism a hijacking of TRUE liberalism, (remember, it was the Progressives who preached prohibition, as a small example) and NOT the conservatism borne from the Enlightenment thinkers, dating back through the Glorious Revolution all the way to Cicero.

Conservatism IS libertarianism, for lack of a better description, with a recognition of the need for a strong foreign policy/national defense posture.

The idea that Conservatism is anti intellectual is also as vacuous and empty an accusation as the idea of "protecting the rich". In point of fact, Conservativism is simply faith in the individual and LACK of the intellectual arrogance of believing that the collective knows what is best for YOU.

Quite simply, the difference between MODERN liberalism, a term hijacked by the Progressives (in my day liberals were social libertarians, conservatives economic libertarians, again, to use a short and insufficient descriptor) and Conservatism, is the difference between the utopianism borne from the Hegelian Historic Dialectic colored by the Platonic ideal, that rights are borne of the assent of whatever group of people determine them, vs the Enlightenment ideal of the "Natural Rights" of man, i.e. that simply by being born you are "endowed by your creator with certain inalienable rights".

One, the Progressive/Utopian/modern liberalism/Socialist/Communist/Fabian Socialist/European Social Democracy side, views rights as fungible, to be given and taken by the government.

The other says that the government exists apart from your rights, to protect your rights which are inviolable, separate from any interference by any form of government.

What you all, as students capable of rational thinking should be doing is DEMANDING of your professors, that they shine the same critical light on the ideas of Rousseau, as Burke, Hobbes as Locke, etc.

Demand to know why the American Revolution succeeded, while the French did not.

Places like Columbia are self affirming closed systems. The more there is preaching of one side, the more there is preaching of one side.

As a result, the professors and students until they leave, do not have to deal with the fact that one system has NEVER worked, at any time, in any place, in history, while the ONE time the other has been applied, has been one of the great success stories (until it was corrupted) in world history.

+1
+44
-1
GS 2004 posted on

Thank you for this. And thank you Stephen Luftschein for your comments. I walked into Columbia a steadfast European socialist, and walked out a steadfast conservative. A lot of what changed my mind, on top of my increasing knowledge of economics and facts about history and human nature, was the, shall I say, reactionary aggression I received in response to simply *questioning* liberal ideas and premises in conversations. I like to do a lot of "well what about this?" in my political conversations, questioning the premises of whoever I am speaking with. The hatred I evoked by doing this, even AS a liberal, questioning people I *agreed with*, really, really took me aback and confounded me. Disagreeing and even questioning is considered Thoughtcrime, which I found pretty appalling at an institution like Columbia. From then until today, I know that if I "out" myself as a conservative by asking certain questions, the odds are very high, nearly certain in fact, that I will be instantly written off as racist, classist, misogynist, ignorant, untraveled, unread, etc. by the person I am speaking with. I wish I could say this was only a problem inside the Hallowed Halls of the University, but it is no different having these discussions anywhere else.

When I was a young liberal, I knew Republicans were evil too. But at least I would *talk to them*. At least I would engage them and ask them the reasons for their beliefs. Believe it or not, they actually have reasons!

What's really disgusting to me is the professors and post-college "adults" who maintain this mentality. I don't like, but I can understand and give some leeway to a 20-something kid who has been taught a political religion his whole life, literally has been taught that questioning any of the premises is symptomatic/proof of bigotry, and has never seen any examples OF such questioning entertained by the "legitimate authorities" in his intellectual/political life. He should still have the adult capacity to have a civil conversation with people he disagrees with, should be open to the possibility that he may [gasp] be wrong [you mean he doesn't have it all figured out?? at 21??], and be willing to change his mind if provided a superior argument, no matter how precious of his views it undermines.

But my true contempt lies in the adults, professors, parents, professionals, and "authority figures" who taught him to be closed-minded, who continue to indoctrinate him with their intellectual religion, and who punish and mock all who disagree as unclean. A 20 year old may grow out of it. A 40 year old won't. And he is actively making things worse.

+1
+38
-1
Eric posted on

This column is featured in the latest "American Online Columnists" - http://www.blueagle.com/

+1
+2
-1
Sky posted on

I went to college just after the Viet Nam war ended. In my era, many hardworking bright students, including my friends at Berkeley, would experiment with LSD -- not abuse it, but try it once or twice in small quantity to test the affects. The most profound affect for me was that it forced objective truth when it came to the question "Who am I?" It stripped the wall self-defense mechanisms that started building up at age 8. "The truth shall set you free.

Indoctrination of one viewpoint and one viewpoint only is NOT what higher education is about. It smacks of totalitarianism. Free speech was the rallying cry of my generation. What the F is going on?

+1
+8
-1
DilloTank posted on

You ask the most pertinent question. Read 'Dupes' by Paul Kengor.

http://www.amazon.com/Dupes-Americas-Adversaries-Manipulated-Progressives/product-reviews/1935191756/ref=sr_1_1_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

America is the most important obstacle to the Utopian vision of the Communists and Marxists. Recognizing that America is (was) a formidable military power, they have been subverting and indoctrinating (not by agents, but by 'useful idiots' or 'dupes') America from within for a century. We are witnessing the implementation of policies that will turn America into a socialist hell-hole if the trend is not reversed.

+1
-1
-1
Dave B posted on

Good Op-ed. Nice to see individuals speaking out about other peoples (conservatives) opinions being respected. Many liberals say the republican party is split on their opinions and the party falling apart. I look at it as the republican party as more "diversified" in their thinking or opinions. It's just not one ideology. Where as if your a democrat, you know exactly what they believe.

+1
+8
-1
det2659@yahoo.com posted on

I couldn't get past your first paragraph. God help us for with people of your type the USA is DOOMED.
God Bless America

+1
-1
-1
presstopress posted on

You seem like a bright young man. I, too, was liberal in college. It's hard not to be. But after you leave the confines of the university, and especially after you own a business and meet a payroll, your eyes open and your position changes. Good luck in all you do.

+1
+21
-1
Erika the plumber posted on

Haven't you proved that " ...the Ivy League as a circle-jerk of liberalism..." ISN'T merely a stereotype. You've given all the evidence needed that there's a very good reason it's considered as such.

+1
+4
-1
Horia Puscuta posted on

communist-socialist propaganda in american schools...indoctrination...

+1
+1
-1
Mr. Peabody posted on

Jake,

You clearly need a better school. #timetotransfer

+1
-3
-1
Benjamin Smith posted on

I am a Conservative. I have noticed that I tend to have more liberal friends than my liberal friends have conservative friends. Why is that? Answer: Because it's hard to be friends with someone you think is ignorant and bad. Liberals have been sold the myth that conservatives are a paycheck away from blowing up an abortion clinic, clubbing a seal, and stoning a gay. Academia "rolls their eyes" at debate. My advise to liberals would be to challenge yourself. Go to a "Teabagger" rally and find some racists or a "joe six pack" to quote the a post below. Listen to conservative talk radio and call the host for a debate. Open yourself up to the challenge of debate with conservatives. I subscribe to the Huffington Post on FB and am updated by leftist arguments every 2 hours.

+1
+8
-1
Benjamin Smith posted on

I am a Conservative. I have noticed that I tend to have more liberal friends than my liberal friends have conservative friends. Why is that? Answer: Because it's hard to be friends with someone you think is ignorant and bad. Liberals have been sold the myth that conservatives are a paycheck away from blowing up an abortion clinic, clubbing a seal, and stoning a gay. Academia "rolls their eyes" at debate. My advise to liberals would be to challenge yourself. Go to a "Teabagger" rally and find some racists or a "joe six pack" to quote the a post below. Listen to conservative talk radio and call the host for a debate. Open yourself up to the challenge of debate with conservatives. I subscribe to the Huffington Post on FB and am updated by leftist arguments every 2 hours.

+1
+1
-1
Cheryl Damico posted on

Imagine, Jake, if the News Media were also called to task and we were all exposed to two sides of each of the issues!!! Without the Academics and the Media influence on society...conservatives still are about 45% of the population. Imagine!

+1
+11
-1
Daniel posted on

It always surprises me that the left has such a stranglehold on places of higher learning. The universities say they value ideas, but they don't; they value intellectualism, which is a form of religion. Intellectualism has a dogma, a set of un-questioned premises.

Socialism considers "the people" as being oppressed by an elite that somehow has taken what is rightfully theirs. Government's job is to therefore somehow redistribute this wealth to make things "more fair".

Capitalism is based on the premise that the most valuable thing is an idea. This is not generally understood, even by people on the right. There is nothing that humans use that does not start first as an idea. Everything has at one point started as the idea of one human. Let's take a concrete example:

An apple at a grocery store. when you buy an apple at the store, you pay for it. The socialist might say that the store owner is taking advantage of you, charging you for an apple that grows on the tree for free.

But you are not paying for the apple. the apple is indeed free (save for water and fertilizer maybe). What you are paying for is for this idea: an apple at a convenient location close to your house, so you don't have to travel to the orchard and pick your own apple. That is what the store is charging you for.

When you barter, you barter for even value. So when the store owner brings fruit from the orchard, it's an idea that benefits hundreds of people. It's only fair that he make a lot of money for such a useful idea.

The left is the most unfair position. It holds that no matter how good an idea you have, you should not be compensated for it. That the store owner somehow "cheated" his clients out of their money, and has to be somehow "punished", by having a percentage of his possessions taken away and distributed to the population at large. A despicable idea.

+1
+11
-1
Anonymous posted on

Excellent premise with two major flaws. The 'destruction' capitalism has wrought, no, it is 'crony capitalism' or better stated 'corporatist government partnership' that has wrought destruction. Conservative 'ideology'. Conservatism is not an ideology, it is a way of life based upon historical experience, the rule of law, individual liberty (Locke), and civil society. Where as liberalism is a false ideology that government is the solution to an insolvable condition, human being. However the basic premise of the article is spot on, the silencing of debate by the liberal leads to an uninformed one sided group think that leaves Columbia. Commonly referred to as 'brainwashed' by the liberal indoctrination of tenured Marxists.

+1
+4
-1
Interesting Observation posted on

I despise when someone labels me a conservative. For many people, the word conjures up images of a frothing at the mouth, Bible thumping nutcase. Just because I expect my government to represent its people rather than special interests, to adhere to the same fiduciary principles I use to budget my household, and to run the government by the tenants of the Constitution does not make me a crazy, uneducated whack job. Personally, what I feel makes a person unintelligent is when they adhere to a certain tenant with grappling hooks, without ever taking the time or energy to understand a differing point of view. Some people believe if they entertain another point of view, they might be sucked into it. Well, oh golly gee whiz. That's called intellectual growth! I think Jake Goldwasser poignantly made this same case.

+1
-2
-1
David Leeper posted on

The defensive, indignant, smug, arrogant, self-righteous, and closed-minded comments appended to this article prove the author's very point. None of these comments counters your argument. None protests with concrete examples of open liberal-conservative debate.

My compliments to Goldwasser. It takes guts to stand up and speak out.

+1
+7
-1
DilloTank posted on

I could provide endless examples of the ideas expressed in my comments. The reason I did not do so, is because 'liberals' don't bother to read them. They simply mock and demean conservatives, while ignoring the record of history and disdaining common sense.

The examples are available to the person that is will to ask the one simple question that the 'liberal' dares not ask. "What is the truth"?

+1
+1
-1
Deena Hartje posted on

So glad to see a young person question the spoon-fed liberal ideology that we call "The University"

+1
+7
-1
Linda posted on

"There is No Right Answer" is right on! Thank you for your boldness. I am forwarding this to high school students in the college search. Well done.

+1
-2
-1
Isabella1709 posted on

Tell me how honest an education is when descent is stifled and ridiculed by 80% of the faculty in most liberal colleges? Progressives have such a stranglehold on all education that we parents must counter it or our country will continue it's slide into oblivion. Critical thinking and civics is gone.

+1
0
-1
Greg posted on

Jake Goldwasser made some solid points in this article, and like most articles on the internet, the name calling and finger pointing in the comment section starts. He was spot on perfect with his evaluation of the situation that exist with in academia. If we start with insults and hold to the belief that we are absolutely correct without being willing to listen to the other side, our beliefs have no merit. I personally consider myself a moderate, and believe that the majority of the country would fall into that roll if given the option. Strong beliefs divide when individuals are not willing to discuss the facts that support the various reasons for these beliefs. A high school teacher of mine taught critical thinking in of all subjects, English. He believed that the problem with the public school system is that it had at it's core education structure memorize and regurgitate. He wanted to get us ready for college, where we would have to actually think. It appears that college does not ask that of anyone. A more successful society would ask of it's students to argue the merits and draw backs of the liberal view and the conservative view, and then to come up with your own independent idea with facts or details to support. This method of thinking needs to also be applied to every situation on an individual basis. How many of us choose to do that? Perhaps a conservative view may be better for one area of society where the liberal view is better for another. Totalitarianism is destructive no matter what side it is on.

+1
+1
-1
Anonymous posted on

"Intelligence appears to be the thing that enables a man to get along without education. Education enables a man to get along without the use of his intelligence."
Albert Edward Wiggam

+1
-1
-1
William in Texas posted on

Great observation. As a conservative, I experience the same thing within my conservative community as well (I pose a question, or point out a flaw in reasoning, and get eye-rolling and labeling instead of dialogue). So I just keep quiet. I guess it's just human nature that a large number of us are not able to detach from our need to "belong" and "judge" in order to perceive without bias and think from an outside perspective.

+1
-2
-1
DilloTank posted on

Do your conservative friends think you are a greedy racist?

My conservative friends never behave this way. They simply express varying points of view.

If someone says something really stupid, my conservative freinds do not use eye-rolling and labeling, the refuge of the inarticulate and intellectually bankrupt. They explain why the expressed point of view is really stupid and articulate the intelligent way of looking at the issue.

+1
+2
-1
Judith Redepenning posted on

It is very sad that the professors feel that they have the right to act like only their opinions are correct. Wat are they afraid of? Someone not agreeing with them? They have some low self esteem if they don't want to hear what others think. Pretty sad.

+1
-3
-1
DilloTank posted on

Evan Sayet makes some very interesting observations concerning the modern American 'liberal'. Others make the same observations, but Sayet postulates an intelligible theory from the seemingly unintelligible banality of the modern American 'liberal'. (who is completely illiberal, notice they do not tolerate free speech e.g. debate with people that disagree, the subject of Goldwater's article)

He has written a book, which is based on a lecture. Here is a link to the the lecture, 'Regurgitating the Apple: How Modern Liberals Think' and the book 'Kindergarten of Eden: How Modern Liberals Think'.

http://www.heritage.org/research/lecture/regurgitating-the-apple-how-modern-liberals-think

http://www.amazon.com/KinderGarden-Eden-Modern-Liberal-Thinks/product-reviews/1480010421/ref=sr_1_1_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

Also, read the first chapter and the intro/preface at my facebook page if you don't have an Amazon account:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=522537041157680&set=a.379066665504719.93339.100002041670371&type=3&theater

+1
-3
-1
DilloTank posted on

Sayet begins Ch. 1 of his book 'Kindergarten of Eden: How the Modern Liberal Thinks', by quoting Howard Zinn, author of the most widely used textbook on American History.

"Objectivity is impossible, and it is also undesirable. That is, if it were possible, it would be undesirable.

They are afraid of the truth.

You can't make this shiit up. This is what one of the most influential Leftist thinkers and author of the most widely used textbook on American History says he believes.

+1
-9
-1
Chuck Norton posted on

The problem is that far too many liberal academics stopped being liberal some time ago and have become arch leftists with a Stalinist streak.

A simple examination of the web site for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education will show you countless cases, with new ones being added regularly, of censorship and retaliation against students and faculty who do not follow leftist orthodoxy.

These are not isolated incidents, in many cases entire university departments and/or administrations work in concert to engage in the illegal censorship, persecution, and retaliation. University departments tend to clone themselves and the problem spreads. It is now epidemic.

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

Never confuse intellectualism with reasoning.

+1
+1
-1
Rov posted on

If liberals are against imposing morality in the social arena, why are they allowed to impose their morality in the economic sphere?

+1
-2
-1
DilloTank posted on

Traditional wisdom teaches that the fundamental human problem is moral.
Marx says that the fundamental problem is economic.
Traditional wisdom sees the fight as between good and evil.
Marx sees the fight as between rich and poor.

+1
-3
-1
Charles C. posted on

Anyone who uses the term "intellectual" as in "you're not intellectual enough" is surely an elitist. Being an intellectual and being intelligent are not one in the same.

+1
-1
-1
DilloTank posted on

Evan Sayet in his book 'Kindergarten of Eden' argues that the modern 'liberal' actually rejects the use of the intellect. That is, he refuses to engage his mind to determine what is true and what of false, what ideas produce desirable outcomes and what ideas produce undesirable outcomes, what is good and what is evil.

Instead the modern liberal uses his mind to come up with clever arguments that promote his dogmatically held point of view, what Sayet calls 'intellectualism'.

+1
0
-1
Annie posted on

Friend, this is incredible and eloquent. I foresee conservatism in your future, especially once you have children (if you decide to). ;)

+1
+1
-1
Namma posted on

Both sides of this argument are moot.

Both sides are acting as though it truly matters in the world of politics. The truth is that alleged adherents to either and all sides not only work together, they eat, drink, golf, vacation and buy companies and stock together.

As former President Clinton reportedly said, "the man's personal dislike of his political opponents was "completely dysfunctional." which can be seen in full here;

Ex-presidents Bush, Clinton play golf in Maine
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-06-28-golf_x.htm

I thought it was only the average American making this mistake.

You folks, really? You are truly paying this much money to be led down the garden path that the average Joe is?

You should get a refund or demand better worth for your money.

Unless, that is, that you intended to sign up for brainwashing. Then by all means have at it. I, for one, now know to discount anyone with an alleged education. It seems you aren't being taught HOW to think, only being TOLD what to think.

Pity.

+1
-2
-1
Gordon Grant posted on

This Republican has an IQ of 141--at age 57. Adjusting for age-related decline, I had an IQ of about 148 when I began voting and chose classic liberalism as my political philosophy.

The sad history and legacy of leftist thought since it was articulated for the modern world by Marx has been misery, poverty, starvation, murder, imprisonment, and genocide.

Leftist ideas don't work because they ignore human nature while trying to impose a utopian society. Classic liberalism (aka conservatism) works because it harnesses human nature to enable any individual or group to create their own utopia.

When your underlying philosophy is flawed, the only thing you have left is some form of distraction, hoping that your audience will be fooled by your diversion.

The liberal/ progressive/ socialist left uses name calling, appeals to emotionalism, obfuscation, and lying to hide the fact that there is no way their ideas will ever stand up under logical scrutiny.

+1
+3
-1
DilloTank posted on

Exactly.

+1
-3
-1
Eugenia posted on

Here's a suggestion. How about more than once in a while playing devil's advocate to your lib professors opinions?

+1
+2
-1
Ed Caryl posted on

This conservative thanks you for that. We need more open minds.

+1
+7
-1
Howard Sachs posted on

Oct 16 2013

Letter to Daily Spectator

From: Howard Sachs MD/Washington DC

Your fine writer Jake Goldwasser was very brave. In life its fairly easy to be kind. Bravery is much more difficult and rare. Jake opined on how conservatives are generally ridiculed at Columbia. Its difficult to say such truth in the American university setting when most professors and students are from the Left. But Jake is correct. He points out a tragedy in play at Columbia and most of our Universities. They have essentially snowed parents and students with marketing and propaganda that spending $200,000 is money well spent to give young people a broad and liberal education. In essence, almost every penny of it , outside the natural science curriculum, is money and time wasted. Our Universities are essentially Leftist indoctrination centers.

What made this country and its people great, namely traditional conservative American values are not discussed, presented and engaged at Columbia or Harvard or Yale; they are ridiculed and mocked and disparaged. Why engage a conservative when he is a bad person; when he is racist, intolerant, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, and bigoted. It's standard fare from the mouths of professors, many who have never left the childlike world of school from kindergarten to their professorships. It's easy for these Professor to bully the naive 18 year old with their Leftist ideology Jake. It's standard fare from our colleges to the Bible of Leftism the New York Times Editorial page.

Yes, you might see here and there a course with Edmund Burke on the reading list, but lets be intellectually honest, our universities are diverse in melanin pigment in skin, what kind of sex people like to have, and whether or not there is 1/33 native American blood running in peoples' veins.

True diversity of thought and values is now void on our campuses. It's an anathema. How many of students and professors at Columbia have ever engaged respectfully and deeply the values of a Morman? an evangelical Christian? a member of the Republican Jewish coalition? Christians United for Israel? How many speakers on campus or professors or students hold strong traditional conservative American values and views? Your administrators tout this percent of melanin pigment on campus and that percent of young men who like to have sex with other men and the fact that this percent had ancestors that once lived on the African continent. What have we come to?

Almost everyone on campus knows the radical Leftist and narrow minded writer Cornell West but has never heard of one of America's greatest thinkers and writers Professor Tom Sowell. Tom is a black conservative so he is banned from the "diversity" of Columbia even though, ironically, his melanin content is quite high. Dennis Prager whose national radio show Jake was on this week is also one of America's greatest thinkers, writers and speakers but will never be seen or heard on the self described "open tolerant, progressive and liberal" Columbia campus.

Save your money Jake if you can. Watch some of Prager's great and free 5 minute Prager University courses on the web. You'll learn something. It will help reduce the toxic Leftist notions you are awash in at college. It will remind you that this religion of Leftism has nothing to do with American values and what made us great. I say this not to be mean but to express the passion millions of us have about the degradation of our once great universities.

Howard Sachs MD

Washington DC

hsachs@starpower.net

3017752177

+1
+1
-1
JDHenry posted on

Jake, Question: Has your time spent at Columbia been an "education" or an "indoctrination"? (Not really sure you got your money's worth...)

+1
-2
-1