The New York Times Magazine has an interesting article entitled The Young Hipublicans about the growth of conservative activism on American college campuses.
Young Americans for Freedom; Young America's Foundation; the Leadership Institute; the Collegiate Network; the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. These groups spend money in various ways to push a right-wing agenda on campuses: some make direct cash ''grants'' to student groups to start and run conservative campus newspapers; others provide free training in ''conservative leadership,'' often providing heavily subsidized travel to their ''publishing programs''; others provide help with the hefty speaking fees for celebrity right-wing speakers. Through these coordinated activities, these groups have embarked in the last three years on a concerted campus recruitment drive to turn temperamentally conservative youngsters into organized right-wing activists. From Maine to California, students have taken up the offer -- even at such lefty bastions as Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Students at Howard University, a black institution in Washington, have started a group that has been referred to as the ''hip-hop Republicans.'' The Campus Leadership Program has by their own count helped set up 256 conservative campus groups in less than three years. The College Republican National Committee, a group that mobilizes students to campaign, has tripled its membership since 1999 to an all-time high of 1,148 chapters.
There is one point that I think is a key element to understanding conservative campus resurgence:
Having spread beyond traditionally conservative hotbeds like Dartmouth, it's a movement that operates in an atmosphere that did not even exist when Buckley and D'Souza were undergraduates: campuses governed by speech and behavior codes introduced more than a decade ago. A result is a new breed of college conservative, one poised to inherit the responsibility of shaping the Republican Party in the years to come.
The point here is obvious: the Left on campus has become so illiberal (in the classical sense of liberalism favoring free speech and all that) and so into enforcing their ideology by controlling speech and behavior that it has sparked a backlash which is supported chiefly by the Right. Leftist ideologues have done such a thorough job of taking over the humanities departments and social sciences departments (probably less so in economics or other more heavily empirical social sciences) that students are getting fed a heavy dose of propaganda both in and outside of their courses. Anyone who can see thru the propaganda finds a variety of right wing viewpoints refreshing and hence a lot more appealing. The irony of the situation is that students can most effectively rebel against the status quo powers on campus by attacking those powers from the Right.
If you do not read the full article make sure you read the last two paragraphs. Academics are quoted complaining that the conservative activists are making the students more skeptical toward the ideas that the academics are trying to impart (how dare those activists raise doubts about the true faith!). An absurd social psychology professor complains that her students didn't take her seriously when she argued that the war in Iraq would increase the murder rate in the United States. She's just making things up and expects students to accept whatever nutty ideas she dreams up because she's older and (at least in her mind) wiser. After all, she's the professor. She must know what she's talking about since she's in a position of authority. She even referred to her murder rate idea as a "theory". She ought to realize that her idea is at best a hypothesis and not a theory. But in the mind of an ideologue politically correct hypotheses are seen as having more merit because belief in them will cause politically correct actions.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 May 25 12:10 PM Politics American Domestic|