Civility as White Privilege, and Other Reasons why Higher Ed Might Be Losing Republican Support

Civility sucks!

Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell fretted in a recent piece about the diminishing support for higher education she detects among GOP lawmakers. “Republican politicians,” she wrote, “clearly view beating up on colleges as a way to prove their conservative bona fides.”

Why, oh why, might that be? She offers two theories. First, that Republicans and conservatives have lost confidence in colleges. Schools are too liberal, they don’t allow students to think for themselves, and students are learning the wrong things. Or, in the worlds of Donald Trump Jr. last fall, colleges offer the following bargain: “We’ll take $200,000 of your money; in exchange we’ll train your children to hate our country.”

She quotes Arizona State University President Michael Crow to the effect that maybe there’s a teeny, tiny bit of truth to the accusation: “Crow acknowledges that even his prized university has not always had ‘intellectual balance,’ and notes that it has recently developed conservative-leaning programs.”

Rampell might gain some added insight by reading Steve Salerno’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today, headlined, “‘White-Informed Civility’ Is the Latest Target in the Campus Wars.” Salerno describes how in some quarters, professors are arguing that the concept of civility is a manifestation of white hegemony.

“Finally, there’s a recognition in the academic space that the way argument has taken place in the past privileges certain types of people over others,” Joe Leeson Schatz, director of speech and debate at Binghamton University, told the Atlantic. “Arguments don’t necessarily have to be backed up by professors or written papers. They can come from lived experience.”

In other words, no amount of mere “facts” or “logic” can trump the lived experience of the oppressed. Logic such as this, combined with the larger assault on the western intellectual canon of “dead white men,” creates the impression that colleges are spinning out of control. Admittedly, extreme examples plucked from places such as Howard University, Towson State, and even the University of Arizona are not typical of all universities everywhere, much less than the institutions here in Virginia. But extreme examples feed the sense that higher education is increasingly hostile to the values of Republicans and conservatives. And it is not illogical for legislators ask, “Why subsidize those who hate everything I believe in?”

Rampell sees another reason for the declining support — Americans are losing faith in the payoff from a college degree.

In an August Wall Street  Journal/NBC News survey, most Republicans, rural residents, and people who consider themselves poor or working class said college isn’t worth the cost. This is even though higher education averages a much bigger return than any other major investment: the occupations requiring at least some postsecondary education are projected to have the fastest job growth and highest earnings in the coming decade; and for those born at the bottom of the income distribution, a college diploma is key to achieving upward social mobility.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. The average college graduate encompasses a broad range of people from elite prep school valedictorians who scored double-barreled 800s on their SATs to those who were socially promoted through an inner city school and read at an 8th-grade level. Lump together Harvard-graduate hedge fund managers with State U shoe salesmen at JC Penney and, yes, they make a pretty good income on average. But the average is a meaningless figure for those on the margin. Most poor or working class kids will earn less than the average. What’s more, poor kids are at significantly higher risk of dropping out of college without graduating and accumulating significant student-loan debt in the process.

Rampell is an enabler of the higher-ed status quo, I surmise, because (a) she finds the college environment to be ideologically and philosophically hospitable, so bias against Republicans doesn’t bother her very much; (b) she buys the line that tuition increases are driven primarily by cutbacks in state financial support at the behest of mean ol’ Republicans rather than by out-of-control costs; and (c) despite her Princeton education, she cannot grasp the difference between the average and marginal utility of a college degree.

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22 responses to “Civility as White Privilege, and Other Reasons why Higher Ed Might Be Losing Republican Support

  1. Never understood why Conservatives didn’t go off and start their own “higher ed” … and out-compete those libtards… institutions…

    Liberty.. Oral Roberts.. how about some more?

    All this incessant whining by folks who say they “believe” in “markets”.

    Cheese and Crackers! quityerbellyachin , get off your you-know-whats and create the Higher Ed version of FOX and staff it with “right” thinking Professors!

    And let’s get the states to give Vouchers to kids rather than money to institutions and kids/parents CHOOSE where to go and if the Conservative Colleges are what folks want – VOILA !

    I’m serious. Liberty continues to be the largest, private four-year, nonprofit university in the United States and the world’s largest Christian university!

    Nothing like a little competition to challenge those Libtard colleges!

  2. It’s not the college that you choose, it’s the major …

    “For example, a Petroleum Engineering major who earns the median salary in that major for 40 years will make $5.4 million over the course of his or her career. Art History majors will earn $2 million over a 40-year career at median salary.”

  3. Jim – why would you expect honesty and integrity from the Washington Post’s editorial team any more than the average citizen of the former Soviet Union expected honesty and integrity from Pravda?

  4. Oh, and Jim … when you use the term “white privilege” please issue a trigger warning. Study after study shows that Asian Americans are exceeding white Americans in compensation, wealth and educational achievement. The Asians’ cultural appropriation of “white privilege” is unconscionable. Every time I hear the term I have to run to my safe area and repeat the college mantra of “Whitey only prospers because of his whiteness” that is being taught in colleges today.

    Republicans are sick of higher education because the crap spewed about things like white privilege is bullshit.

  5. I continued my normal contribs to my Alma Maters this year. Wonder how the new Tax bill will impact 2018 college contributions? Will the larger new standard deduction make contributions less generous?

  6. The standard deduction will double which will shed a lot of people who formerly itemized… and that, in turn might well affect those who contributed because of a tax write-off..

  7. Jim Bacon and commenters,

    Thanks for the posts. What a riot! There is nothing like a belly laugh and thank you so much for the honesty.


  8. Snarkiness aside — What have our legislators come to, that any of them would believe it’s better to destroy education itself rather than respond to educated criticism of their beliefs with an educated counterargument? Yet that is what Rampell is positing, and we’ve seen some of that attitude all to close to home in Virginia’s GA. In this hyper-polarized political environment, emotion too often substitutes for facts and logic. Your comment about replacing “white-informed civility” with “arguments from lived experience” captures the ugliness of that answer to the likes of Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh on the subject of race relations around St Louis, but just how ugly is the other half of that “discussion?” That doesn’t excuse either point of view; but when did it become appropriate to say, “if this is an educational institution’s response to race relations, we don’t need education at all”?

    • OUCH! Acbar ouch! ouch! ouch!

    • I agree there are several approaches to this No-Nothing trend in higher education. One is to expose the ongoing journalist’s campaigns that concoct drivel that they weaponize to attack imagined political opponents while at the same time those journalists drive their own hidden political agendas.

      Here of course, in this instance, we speak of Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell’s hit piece that only continues a long tradition of dishonesty at the Washington Post. Here as regards that tradition see my comments on the subject found beneath Jim Bacon post “Demanding Truth from Those in Power” posted here on this website on February 17, 2017.

      Another fine exposition on the modern day version of this journalistic plague in America has come to us by way of President Obama’s National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes spectacularly successful poisoning of the truth surrounding a major foreign policy play and replacing that truth with a grossly false and damaging narrative on Iran’s nuclear ambitions using a technique he called creating Echo Chambers within the media so as to feed a steady diet of lies to the American people from 2009 until today.

      Specifically, and as reported in The Federalists on May 9th, 2016:

      “Rhodes and Obama knew that, for anyone but the hard-left to accept a deal with America’s bitter enemy in Tehran, a new narrative needed to emerge, even if it was relatively transparent nonsense. As Rhodes explained to his bemused interviewer, David Samuels, in a New York Times Magazine profile this weekend, it was first necessary to lie to a corrupted and inexperienced American media about all sorts of things, beginning with the nature and intentions of the enemy Iranian regime. Subsequent lies were caked on, as the White House took advantage of a dangerous mix of journalists’ ignorance, their ideological and partisan commitment to the administration, and, finally, their career aspirations.

      Rhodes said, “The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns… They literally know nothing.” Thus they will believe what he tells them. He also tells friendly non-governmental organizations and think tanks what he is telling the journalists. Those outlets produce “experts” whose expert opinion is just what Rhodes wants it to be. These ignorant young journalists thus have quotes that look like independent confirmation of the White House’s lies. Here’s how Samuels describes the scene:

      In the spring of last year, legions of arms-control experts began popping up at think tanks and on social media, and then became key sources for hundreds of often-clueless reporters. ‘We created an echo chamber,’ [Rhodes] admitted, when I asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. ‘They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.’ (emphasis added)

      Of course, spinning reporters and promoting experts isn’t exactly new; it’s been standard practice in political warfare since the birth of the first press corps. As Lee Smith sums up in the Weekly Standard: “For the last seven years the American public has been living through a postmodern narrative crafted by an extremely gifted and unspeakably cynical political operative whose job is to wage digital information campaigns designed to dismantle a several-decade old security architecture while lying about the nature of the Iranian regime. No wonder Americans feel less safe—they are.”

      For The Federalist’s article by David Reaboi see:

      And of course the lies orchestrated by the White House over nearly 8 years culminated in the delivery of over a billion dollars in US cash flown into Iran on pallets stuffed in the belly of covert US military aircraft. What’s new and frightening is how Rhodes’ and Obama’s efforts to falsify the news, and their actions forced on the US Government that were akin to those of cartel drug dealer, how all of this poisons our institutions. And how today these false narratives are enabled by modern technology to overwhelm the truth when deployed in mass by the major public and private institutions of this country, and sew chaos as well a lies throughout our society.

      Thus, example, how the University of Virginia marshaled all it leaders and assets to falsify and mislead the public on the events that happened during the protests that occurred in the spring and summer of 2017 in Charlottesville Virginia.

      Again, see the comments on the subject found beneath Jim Bacon post “Demanding Truth from Those in Power” posted here on this website on February 17, 2017 that begins with the following:

      “UVA has been flooding my in box with emails for more than a week. Each UVA email says the same thing, over and over again, in slightly altered form as if a contrived Madison Avenue advertisement campaign:

      Urgent protestations, announcements, proclamations and claims from the UVa.’s President, UVa.’s Rector, UVa.’s Alumni Association, UVa.’s Miller Center, UVa. Magazine and UVa. Daily and now from student leaders, all shouting almost the same thing:

      “We have been invaded by the evil of white nationalists and white supremacist terrorism. But we will not be intimated and we stand in solidarity and virtue instead. Hate has no place here. We choose Love.”

      That is the tenor of the main message. The underlying message is also clear and unambiguous, namely that:

      UVa., an innocent victim, has found the devil it so desperately needs to deflect attention away from itself – and onto more white men to demonize instead – this time Fascists and Neo-Nazi white supremacists from out of town. UVA thus grabs the perfect target to stand in solidarity against, and to hate, so as to falsely claim to heal the violation of UVa.’s virtuous and loving community, while UVA compounds and deepens the problem instead.

      How easy it is to hate white fascists neo-Nazi white supremacists. I want to hate them too, who does not? But where is the wisdom and maturity in that?” End of quote.

      I will follow up with a discussion of the substance of the White Civility claims at issue today.

  9. Dear Larry,

    Most “historically White” ;-))< colleges, and they were almost all begun either as seminaries or colleges, not "universities", except Johns Hopkins, were begun as at least conservative-ish, i.e. "at worst" as "classical liberal" or libertarian. William F. Buckley described the situation at his alma mater in the 1950s, in _God and Man at Yale_ where religious belief and adherence to a capitalistic economy were denigrated by large numbers of faculty while its administration stood aloof. Cultural Marxism under the influence of the "Frankfurt School" and anti-war protests and Black radicalism flourished during the 1960s. Since that time the "universities," though "diversities" would probably be a more accurate descriptor, have only worsened in their collapse of healthy standards and role of instructors of the young, and triumph of Pontius Pilatean "what is truth?" Post-Modernism. The "humanities" have been largely turned into a wasteland of Europhobes of all colors and purveyors of "polymorphous perversity," to borrow Herbert Marcuse's expression. So, when you ask, "why don't conservatives start their own schools?" I would answer, that our forebears did, but that the fruit of their labors were taken over by what the Italian Cultural Marxist pioneer, Antonio Gramsci, described in his prison diaries, as "a long march through the institutions." There was a major lapse of vigilance during this takeover. What could, and should, have been stopped at an earlier stage, is now fully grown, and screaming and appalling in its maturity. Repair will take a long time, require great patience, and be more expensive as a result of this dereliction.



  10. Geeze Andrew – the ‘right-thinking” Conservative schools were taken over and corrupted by ignorant and clueless libtards!

    Was that sorta like a natural evolution – and liberalism successfully competed in that market and won? (Although I think TJ was thinking quite “liberally” when UVA got started)

    And now the losers can’t stop whining about how the higher Ed “market” chose Liberalism over conservative “education”.

    The folks that don’t believe in Science when it comes to climate and evolution , and do believe in classism and white privilege want to “reform” higher ed back to it’s “original” roots!


  11. Dear Larry,

    The point is that the infiltrators relied on stealth and deception to take over that which they did not create. Liberals are parasitical the way Tom Wolfe says in _Bonfire of the Vanities_, “Manhattan Makes and the Bronx Takes.” But Conservatives are once more having to recreate “parallel institutions” in order to get around the Liberal-controlled establishment. It is slow, painstaking work, but one we must do. The Liberal establishment is a tissue of lies, corruption, and hatred. Like the Soviet Union, it will fall under the weight of these evils.



  12. Andrew – they took over ALL of higher Ed via stealth and deception?

    Who Knew?

    Sounds like some sort of conspiracy… eh?

    see, I MIGHT buy your argument if you said SOME of the institutions – were taken over and others became “conservative” but when the implication is that all of Higher Ed was taken over by Liberals.. well.. then we’re into Alice in Wonderland which I realize is a favorite fable of the right these days.

    The whole industrialized world is being taken over by Evil Liberals ? Lord!

    Come on Andrew… you’ve got Liberty and Oral Roberts..and these:

    ( America’s Best Conservative Colleges):
    1. Liberty University
    2. Brigham Young University-Idaho
    3. Franciscan University of Steubenville
    4. Brigham Young University
    5. Bob Jones University
    6. Maranatha Baptist University
    7. Biola University
    8. Texas A&M University
    9. University of Northwestern-St. Paul
    10. Colorado Christian University
    11. Oral Roberts University
    12. Anderson University-South Carolina
    13. Southwestern Assemblies of God University
    14. George Fox University
    15. LeTourneau University
    16. Cedarville University
    17. Union University
    18. Southern Methodist University
    19. University of Findlay
    20. Benedictine College
    21. University of Dallas
    22. Samford University
    23. University of Mississippi
    24. Northwest Nazarene University
    25. Southeastern University
    26. Regent University
    27. University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
    28. Utah State University
    29. Evangel University
    30. Olivet Nazarene University
    31. Cornerstone University
    32. Wake Forest University
    33. Abilene Christian University
    34. California Baptist University
    35. Brigham Young University-Hawaii
    36. Texas Christian University
    37. Crown College
    38. University of Arkansas at Little Rock
    39. Grove City College
    40. Spring Arbor University
    41. Asbury University
    42. Mississippi State University
    43. Southern Utah University
    44. Indiana Wesleyan University
    45. Azusa Pacific University
    46. Taylor University
    47. Dallas Baptist University
    48. Clemson University
    49. Western Kentucky University
    50. Northwest University

    why don’t these Universities grow and prosper as good choices for Conservatives?

    Why are you not satisfied with the choices that do exist and instead want to get rid of Liberal choices?

    You guys DO have the power of CHOICE but instead you WHINE about others choices!

  13. Dear Larry,

    You and I both know that there is a hierarchy or ranking of universities and colleges. The Ivy League, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Chicago, etc. These are the feeder universities of the American elite. Those and a certain number of state-funded schools have fallen to Liberal subversion. Yes, there is some degree of coordination, too, though I won’t give you a percent, because I don’t know. And, yes, the University of Mississippi’s humanities departments have fallen to the Liberals. I attended graduate school at Ole Miss from 1995-97, and you, Larry, would feel comfortable “at home”, “shooting the breeze” with its faculty. I am glad that some Conservative schools remain, including the list you presented, but elite aligned schools, indeed, fell long ago, and their favored graduates have doors open in obtaining positions to disciple followers and dole out funding. Similarly, the teacher education schools have fallen, and they spread their ideology in public and private elementary, middle, and high schools, too.



    • Andrew – even if I accept what you say as true.. and I don’t.. it talks and walks like some kind of massive liberal conspiracy..and we are now overrun with them on virtually every subject one can imagine these days.

      You guys already have a large number of “Conservative” Higher Ed and you should advocate changes like we see you guys advocating vouchers for K-12 – you should advocate vouchers for Higher Ed to replace direct funding of Higher Ed. That will not only give people competition – not only on price but on what kind of Higher Ed.

      Second -you should advocate tax policies that incentivize Conservatives Alumnus of the “Liberal” schools to re-direct their money to these Conservative Schools.. I’m sure the GOP elected can figure out a way to write the law to do that.

      Why do Conservatives who attended “Liberal” schools STILL GIVE MONEY to them anyhow ?

      you say: ” Larry, would feel comfortable “at home”, “shooting the breeze” with its faculty.”

      you’d actually be wrong guy. I did not attend a 4 year Ivy League and instead got my education by going to night school until the final year and my instructors were more like adjunct who taught subjects more aligned with my work that the classic “liberal arts”. If you read these pages – you KNOW I’m a STEM / STEAM guy not a Liberal Arts guy.

      Finally – I DO believe in markets and competition and I DO think you guys have “envy” of the Liberal Higher Ed and are too lazy to advocate for an environment which makes it easier for Conservative Higher Ed to compete on a more level playing field. You’re never going to “reform” the Liberal Higher Ed.. it’s there – and as long as people want to attend.. it will be there. if you guys hate it – set up competitive alternatives.. and curate a more Conservative Higher Ed. If you are right – they will start diverting people away form Liberal Higher Ed – and when that happens – Liberal Higher Ed will be forced to change… to try to get back some of those who left.

      that’s the way you win… not by whining… and complaining.

      Vouchers for Higher Ed is how that starts..

  14. Dear Larry,

    You make some valid points about what Conservatives can do. Thanks.



  15. Andrew – we don’t agree on a whole lot but you do remain civil even when I might be provoking …

    appreciate the dialogue … always and anytime..

  16. Gosh Toto. We’re not in the Age of Aquarius anymore! We have entered a truly silly season.

    Unfortunately, we seem to be losing our dedication to reason, inquiry and tolerance. Ideology has to be pure. A search for practical solutions is for non-believers. And our educational institutions have become leaders in this movement.

    Fortunately, my experience with twenty year olds leaves me very hopeful for the future. They seem to have simply ignore these messages. They are engaged, serious, responsible. (Certainly more than I was at their age.)

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