by Martin Cothran
In yesterday's Louisville Courier-Journal, editorials editor David Hawpe condemns The Family Foundation for drawing attention to the lack of ideological diversity at our state universities and for questioning why, in a time of tight state budgets and rising tuitions, our public universities are spending public money to fund scholars and campus organizations who promote left-wing special interest political and social causes on campus.
In response, Hawpe says that the best thing to do with The Family Foundation is to ignore it, and he spends almost a thousand words explaining why.
Sort of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?
I'm trying to remember how many times The Family Foundation has been condemned in Courier-Journal editorials. It's become sort of a ritual. Now it is going to pretend the organization isn't there--by talking about it. It's nice to be ignored: you get so much attention that way.
Hawpe first observes that, although it tried, The Family Foundation "failed to start much trouble" with an op-ed piece in the CJ on UofL's use of "Bucks for Brains" money on a scholar whose specialty was studying the cultural influence of "black, male-bodied drag queens."
Really? Failed to start much trouble? I now count six UofL faculty or officials who have written in to the CJ indignant that anyone would question the funding of special interest political and social activism on its campus. That doesn't count the letters and internet comments on the CJ website--on both sides of the issue. Add to that an editorial by one of the opinion editors. What's his name? ... Oh yeah: David Hawpe!
If it didn't start much trouble, then why is Hawpe writing about it?
The self-defeating response by Hawpe was rivaled only by UofL's response to the charge of a lack of diversity on its campus, which, strangely, was to roll out a parade of left-wing professors to deny it. UofL isn't lacking in diversity and they've got a whole faculty full of liberal professors willing to say so. If you think you have fallen down the rabbit hole, you have.
No wonder Hawpe identifies with these people.Six different UofL professors and faculty published in the CJ in defense of the university's Ideological Uniformity Initiative and not a single, solitary conservative from the university on the other side willing to identify himself.
I wonder why.
Hawpe then comments on similar criticisms The Family Foundation made of UK, where the "gender and women's studies" program enjoys a publicly subsidized ideological monopoly, saying, "UK president Lee Todd and state American Civil Liberties Union director Michael Aldridge have issued appropriate statements defending academic freedom."
Gee, Lee Todd - and the ACLU. No liberals there!
Then Hawpe, his eyes and ears covered, desparately trying to ignore The Family Foundation (you remember, the group that didn't start the trouble Hawpe is not concerned about), tries to paint a scary picture of what could happen if The Family Foundation gets its way. He recounts events in Florida in the early 1960s in which a number of faculty were dismissed at the behest of the Johns Committee on grounds of homosexuality.
Of course, homosexuals are no longer fired, but recruited. Conservatives, on the other hand, are not fired. They don't have to be. They are simply not hired in the first place. We have challenged UK's "gender and women's studies" department to produce a single, solitary conservative on its diverse staff.
So far, no response.
UK and UofL don't need a John's Committee to rid themselves of conservatives who might challenge the liberal ideas that now enjoy protected and subsidized status at their ideologically uniform campuses: they've got people like Hawpe to keep them at bay.
We wonder what Hawpe's reaction would be if, instead of left-wing causes, right-wing causes were getting taxpayer and tuitions subsidies from our public universities. What would be Hawpe's reaction if, instead of Queer Theory and the study of "black, male-bodied drag queens" the university had a scholarly enclave of, say, white supremacists which the university proudly boasted about on its website? Let's call it the "Aryan Studies Center."
Would Hawpe be writing editorials defending its publicly supported status? Would Lee Todd and his pals at the ACLU be talking about academic freedom?
Not on your life.
Our academic institutions - particularly our public institutions of higher learning -should be focused on the critical scholarly examination of all view points, and should be a place where the skills to do this are taught and nurtured. In no case should they be turned into centers for political indoctrination of any kind.