Saturday, January 12, 2008

From the Archives: Advice to Young Conservatives Getting Ready for College

Since most colleges and universities (including mine) are gearing up for the Spring semester, I thought I would re-post something I wrote previously. Here 'tis:

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.
I'd only add the following advice to young liberals: Don't think you are immune to having your liberal views challenged, too. And if you find yourself in an environment where your liberal views are more shared and more espoused by your peers, don't let the comfort of such an environment cause you to become complacent. Always question your views critically and be open to opposing ideas. And never ever manipulate an environment tilted more towards liberal viewpoints to demean or marginalize an intellectual rival. Remember that you will almost certainly find yourself at some point in your life in the minority and, perhaps, on the defensive on some issues. Think of how you would want to be treated by your intellectual rivals in such a context, and then offer that courtesy to others.

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