Saturday, August 18, 2007

Advice to Young Conservatives Getting Ready for College

As a college professor, I would like to say to young conservatives (and, really, to all young people) about to embark on the "liberal brainwashing" that is college. Take heart! Just think that if colleges and universities really were the big brother boogeyman liberal indoctrination machines that Rush Limbaugh would have you believe, there would be much fewer conservatives, independents, and libertarians with college degrees out there.

The fact that many young conservatives not only survive college, but also come through it perhaps with a more informed conservative conviction, is proof positive that college is good for both liberals and conservatives (and even independent and/or apolitical folk, too!)

What is scary to folks like Rush Limbaugh is that college encourages critical thinking. College bombards you with information and data and then challenges you to digest it, make sense of it, and to argue in defense of the conclusions you reach from the critical thinking process with those who come to different conclusions when digesting and thinking on the same information and data. And please know that having what you believe challenged by others is not an assault on your being. It is an invitation to study, think, and argue back.

Folk like Limbaugh are afraid that if you think critically you might become liberal. And they call it brainwashing if, in fact, this happens. Well, let me just tell you that critical thinking is not something to be afraid of. Sure, it may (and probably will) change your view the world; but how it does so is wide open and is ultimately up to you.


Don_cos said...

The fact that many young conservatives not only survive college, but also come through it perhaps with a more informed conservative conviction,

When you step in pooh barefooted, you learn to wear shoes.

having what you believe challenged by others is not an assault on your being.

Huck, I have no doubts that you operate with this in mind, and I would have no issues knowing that you were the professor teaching my children. However, as long as big name liberal colleges allow the liberal groups to shout down and even assault conservatives, you will never be able to win this argument.

Huck said...

Protest on college campuses is part of the experience and certainly part of the free speech that is necessary for critical dialogue.

While I do think some groups go way too far, to the point of attempting to prevent the expression of alternative and opposite viewpoints, that is, by far, NOT the reality at 99% of all "liberal" colleges or universities.

The fact that gets overlooked is that these alternative voices which sometimes are shouted down, and, perhaps, assaulted (though this would be very rare) are actually participating in an event, which is usually sponsored by some university organization or student club. It is a sign that alternative and opposing voices are recognized and even invited to be part of the college/university experience.

Have you ever studied at what you call a "big name" liberal college or university? I guarantee you that the normal functioning and day-to-day educational experience is no more inhospitable to conservative students as it is to any other group of students.

jkim said...

Perhaps this thread is dead, but I have tried to post here for the last couple of days to no avail. One last try...

As a university student at a supposedly (somewhat) big name liberal college, I ultimately do not think that there is real stifling of conservative opinion.

On the level of student liberalism, I think that is easy to confuse the way people act with the way people think. In college, unfortunately, the way people act has really not much to do with they way they think but more with the way they think they think. In a young, energetic environment, I guess people assume that they are more "liberal" than they really are. In my university, people believe that they are liberal, only to find out that they have a lot in common with a logically constructed conservative argument. (Of course, you have to take this with a grain of salt. Most of my conversations dealt with foreign policy and the war in Iraq, which is tricky because points of view don't necessarily correspond to political parties.)

On an institutional level, universities are extremely conservative in my experience. They are more interested in the preservation and continuation of a solid endowment, student enrollment, and general prestige. For example, my attempts at a rather subversive and perhaps "liberal" expression of opinion about the school administration was stifled. In my department, I have taken classes with extremely conservative political science professors, moderates, as well as liberal professors as well. In all of the classes conservative and liberal opinion was espoused and treated with the same respect.

So really, there is a difference between what seems to be the a social form of political expression and an intellectual form of political expression. I feel like all universities lean one way or another, but as a whole, a university is a pretty good place to hear a variety of opinion (if you so choose).