Thursday, May 19, 2016

An Email Exchange With A Columbia Law School Professor, Part II

Professor Simon: "Thanks for your thoughtful letter. Letters to the Editor are not the best medium for the development of complex ideas. I did not mean to deny that there is a liberal bias in the academy or to assert that the conservative views disfavored in the academy or (sic, are) all racist or dogmatic. I meant (a) the bias is exaggerated, and (b) SOME of what appears to be bias is due to the fact that the views legitimately disfavored in the academy are more common among conservatives than liberals. I'm sure we disagree about much but perhaps not as much as you thought, and I'm sorry the letter wasn't clearer."

The Truth-Uncensored: "Thank you for your reply. But, when you have a minute, I would appreciate it if you could point out those views that are "legitimately disfavored.". What conservative views do you believe are racist, misogynistic or homophobic? Because that is the crux of the debate. I would very much appreciate your comments on those issues. Obviously, I am unable to compel you to reply. However, as your piece in the Times reads, it comes across as many on the left do: disagree with me and you are a (fill in the blank)."

Professor Simon: "We probably don't agree about what counts as racist; so I doubt it would be productive to argue the point. There is a substantial amount of research suggesting that there is some correlation between unambiguously racist views and support for the Republican Party. See, e.g., I do not suggest that there are not legitimate reasons to take most conservative positions. My suggestion is that the disfavoring of the positions that are explicitly racist (etc.) would disproportionately affect self-identified conservatives."

The Truth-Uncensored: "Hello Professor. This will be my last email to you as it appears you do not wish to engage further, and I certainly do not wish to be a bother. I have to say that I find it odd that you do not believe we could agree on what constitutes racism. Are you including in your definition opposition to Obama and his policies? Are you including those who say all lives matter?

I have a good rapport with virtually all the attorneys that oppose me. Men, women, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, whatever. I have represented clients from many different ethnic and religious backgrounds. Racism is obnoxious and totally unacceptable. But, if you truly believe that we cannot agree on a definition for racism, then I must conclude that you are defining racism through a leftist lens. In that case, almost anything can be taken as "code words" for racism. "States rights?" Racist. Smaller government? Racist. Balanced budget? Racist. (Yes, I know there was a time when southern Democrats used "states rights" as a way to continue segregation. We are not far apart in age.)

You refer me to an article about racism. First, they quote Harry Reid, one of the most despicable Senate Majority Leaders in our history. Recall during the last Presidential election Reid said from the Senate floor that he knew Mitt Romney had not paid taxes. It was a lie, of course. Further, he could not legally know what any citizen pays in taxes. When asked years later if he wished to withdraw that comment and apologize, he answered to the effect of 'well, he (Romney) didn't win, did he?'

And that reflects one of my main problems with the left. It is an "ends justify the means" mentality. For example, gay marriage is good; therefore it is acceptable to threaten the business and even lives of the family that would not bake a cake for a gay wedding. The Palestinians are oppressed; therefore it is permissible to shout down the Israeli ambassador and prevent him from speaking, as was done at UC Irvine. After all, some views are "legitimately disfavored." But who gets to decide which views? Only the left, apparently.

Do you believe racism is the main problem facing our country? Some on the left have told me that nothing has improved for blacks over the last 50 years. The only way to account for such a conclusion is a saying I have: liberals let their beliefs dictate their reality, conservatives let reality dictate their beliefs.

No, Professor, the main internal threat facing our country is leftism. The left is on a never ending path towards tyranny. I gave you some examples in my prior emails. A willingness to dispense with the First Amendment, and the Second. A willingness to have a political litmus test for the right to do business; although I doubt many of those holding such beliefs recognize their apparent affinity for Joe McCarthy. Are you now, or have you ever been: opposed to gay marriage? Opposed to abortion? Opposed to open borders? Opposed to a Palestinian state? And so on.

I trust that you understand that today's Democratic Party is generally devoid of classical liberals. People who welcomed debate, rather than attempting to shut it down beforehand, by declaring certain viewpoints as being legitimately disfavored. People who shared the same fundamental values as conservatives hold today. No. Today's Democrats are leftists and socialists, with little or no appreciation for our system of government, or for traditional American values, or for the US Constitution. With leftists in charge the future for the American ideal of liberty is not bright. I wish you well.

P.S. It won't hurt you to read some of my blog posts. Honestly."

An Email Exchange With A Columbia Law School Professor, Part I

Earlier this month Nicholas Kristof, liberal writer at the New York Times, wrote a piece discussing the lack of ideological diversity in academia. Citing four different studies, he said that the percentage of Republicans in the humanities is from 6% to 11%, and in the social sciences from 7% to 9%. But 18% in the social sciences identify as Marxists.

Said Kristof: "When perspectives are unrepresented in discussions, when some kind of thinkers aren't at the table, classrooms become echo chambers rather than sounding boards - and we all lose." Not all Times readers agreed, and this past Sunday the Times printed several letters disagreeing with Kristof. One letter writer, William H. Simon, a professor at Columbia Law School, disagreed with Kristof. What follows below is Professor Simon's letter, and our subsequent email exchange.

Professor Simon: "Nicholas Kristof exaggerates the problem of liberal bias in the academy. It is not the job of the university to represent all the views held in the surrounding society. The commitment to critical inquiry requires it to disfavor some views based on religious dogma, social convention or superstition. The goal of a community of mutual respect requires it to disfavor others, including those that are explicitly racist, misogynist or homophobic. Such views can be expressed in the university, but it is not a cause for concern that academics do not espouse them in their teaching and research. Much of the disparity between views in the academy and in the Republican Party is attributable to their varying social bases. Academics tend to be educated and middle class. The current Republican Party is constituted disproportionately of the undereducated and the wealthy.

That education leads people to different views is neither surprising nor, on its face, disturbing. And if it is a problem that the views of rich people are underrepresented in the academy, they have had little trouble making up for this disadvantage in the media and the political system."

The Truth-Uncensored: "Clearly, you have impressive credentials: Princeton undergrad, Harvard Law, professor at Columbia Law. Sadly, you do not come across as one might expect with those credentials. As a conservative, I am used to being called all sorts of derogatory names, much as you have done. As an aside, my credentials are not as impressive: Rutgers undergrad and UCLA Law. Also, I work in the real world, representing injured workers in workers compensation claims.

I find it disappointing that the argumentative style of many on the left is simple name calling. Oppose abortion? You hate women. Oppose gay marriage? Hate gays and are homophobic. Oppose open borders? Racist, hate Latinos. Do not wish to remake the world economy based on some warming? Anti-scientific. Favor Israel over the Palestinians? Colonialist. I could go on, but I know you get the point.

Some in the the mainstream papers, such as the NYT, engage in these tactics. Some in academia engage in this tactic. And, not surprisingly, those liberals with whom I speak, including other attorneys who should know how to debate an issue, often use the same tactic. So, if I may ask, what makes one racist to you? Oppose Obama's policies? Believe that all lives matter? What constitutes misogyny to you? Opposing abortion? Not believing the government should dictate salaries in the private sector? Homophobia? If one opposes gay marriage? I do. Yet, I have two cousins who are gay and I actually communicate with them - and they with me.

Academics tend to be educated and Republicans uneducated? Are you referring to formal education? There are people I know with not nearly as much formal education as you and I have who have other things going for them - good values and common sense. So what about Republicans who have the requisite formal education? Would you bar them from academia? Based on what?

"Education leads people to different views..." I agree. The propaganda (you call it education) that one gets at many colleges and universities does lead to different views. This might be why polls show that young people are no particular fans of the First Amendment. But, it makes sense. Once you decide that those with a different viewpoint are bigots, racists, homophobic, etc., then why should they be given the opportunity to speak? Are you concerned that young people would ban what would otherwise be considered constitutionally protected speech? Are you concerned that the university today is one of the least diverse places in America, in terms of beliefs? Are you concerned that college students need "safe places" when they might be exposed to a differing viewpoint? Which is not a luxury youth serving in the military get to have.

When the Mayor of NYC, along with other mayors across the country, seeks to prevent Chick-Fil-A from doing business in his city - or at least hopes to prevent them from being successful - are you in agreement? Are you not disturbed that such an attitude is totally unAmerican? Or, do you believe that all applications for business licenses should ask the prospective licensees if they believe in abortion, gay marriage, global warming, etc? Now, we have an admitted socialist running as a major party candidate for president. Young people favor him, not knowing that capitalism has provided more wealth to more people than any other system in the history of the world. I wonder how they'll get the latest updates to their iPhones without capitalism.

Thankfully, some of my liberal friends are actually able to engage in intelligent debate. Those who call names or have no intellectual honesty I tend to avoid. I look forward to any comments that you may wish to make in reply.

P.S. If you are so inclined to read another viewpoint, I write a conservative political blog at:"