Selling A Liberal Canard

S

Saying a bit of journalism from Salon.com is shoddy is like saying Jar-Jar Binks was a crap character that should have died a painful death – it’s a given – but still, Scott Jaschick’s rah rah piece in support of liberal college professors really sinks lower than Salon’s generally low lefty standards.

Jaschick says, “This year’s canard is that all professors are liberals, making colleges and universities distorted, irrelevant and closed to conservative ideas. The straw professor makes an easy election-year target. After all, many professors are liberal. Many academic ideas are hard to understand.” [Emphasis in original].

Jaschick continues stating that “the same Federal Elections Commission database that was used to [show that Dems got 96% of money from Harvard] contains numbers that suggest that there are plenty of colleges that don’t fit the mold of an all-liberal campus.”

To bolster his thesis, Jaschick tours the Federal Election Commission database to find his proof that institutions of higher learning are not really liberal. He writes

To begin with, most of the institutions cited by conservatives are in blue states that already support Kerry, and not just on campuses. But venture into Red State U. and it’s a different picture. Since Jan. 1, 2003, nine employees at Texas Tech made contributions to either a Democratic presidential candidate or the Democratic Party. But Bush or the Republican Party received help from seven employees, including one of the most influential men in Lubbock these days, Bob Knight, the university’s basketball coach. Over at Baylor, six employees backed Bush and the Republican Party, while just two supported Kerry and the Democratic Party.

At Mercer University in Georgia, seven employees made contributions to Bush or the Republican Party, while five backed Democrats. Notably, Republicans on campus include the university president and two senior administrators.

Some of the institutions where Bush and conservative politicians like to appear don’t donate much to any presidential candidate. No employees of Bob Jones University, site of a controversial appearance by Bush in the 2000 campaign, donated to anyone — perhaps faculty members were too busy discouraging interracial dating. Hillsdale College, a Michigan institution beloved by the right, had three donors: all to Republican congressional candidates. Five employees of Regent University, founded by Pat Robertson, have contributions in the database — all to Republicans.

Even places where people make more donations to Kerry than Bush don’t always fit the liberal stereotype. Three employees of Morehouse College, a historically black institution in Atlanta, have made federal campaign contributions since the start of last year. A $300 donation went to Kerry, $400 to Joe Lieberman’s doomed (and not terribly liberal) presidential bid, and $500 went to Republican Senate candidate Johnny Isakson.

Well, first note that Jaschick keeps referring to employees. Last I checked, the conservatives aren’t complaining about employees, they are complaining about professors being liberal. So, let’s look at just one example Jaschick gives – that of Mercer University, my alma mater.

Jaschick writes that “seven employees made contributions to Bush or the Republican Party, while five backed Democrats. Notably, Republicans on campus include the university president and two senior administrators.” Well, first things first – President Godsey at Mercer is, at best, an independent. Being in Bibb County and a political consultant, I have access to his voting record, which, according to the Secretary of State’s voter file, lists Dr. Godsey as a soft democrat. When he votes in primaries, he votes Democrat. Additionally, Jaschick ignores Dr. Godsey’s donations to liberals like Jim Marshall1. and to the Georgia Federal Elections Committee, an independent group that has, in the past, funded Democratic candidates like the ever corrupt Charles Walker of Augusta, Georgia, and perennial liberal candidate Roger Kahn. 2.

I will give Jaschick that Doug Skelton, a former dean, gave money to Tom Price, but that had, most likely, more to do with Tom Price being a doctor and Skelton being dean of Mercer’s medical school. Rick Goddard, the other administration, is a Republican and a former General in charge of Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Georgia.

Jaschick, of course, wanted to prove that the “liberal professor” complaint is “a canard.” I guess that is why Jaschick did not bother to look at professors in depth. Had he, he would have found out that eight professors gave money to Democrats ranging from John Barrow for Congress to John Kerry for President – not five. Oh, and I did not count those who are not professors, which would have increased the number for Democrats.

Texas Tech is another school Jaschick mentioned. While he is right that most administrators and coaches backed Republicans, virtually all individuals listed as either “professor” or “instructor” gave money to Democrats and other lefties like Emily’s List and the Green Party. Over at Baylor, Jaschick writes, ” six employees backed Bush and the Republican Party, while just two supported Kerry and the Democratic Party.” Well, ten professors gave money to Democrats, virtually ever professor listed.

Jaschick’s point is that there are lots of people at universities giving to Republicans. Notwithstanding the fact that lots of administrators at lots of places back the incumbent, regardless of party, he is right that there are lots of administrators and others in academia who give to Republicans. That, however, is not the argument. As Jaschick, himself, says, the argument is that “all professors are liberals, making colleges and universities distorted, irrelevant and closed to conservative ideas.”

“All” is an exaggeration of the argument. Nonetheless, looking at FEC data at universities cited to prove Jaschick’s point, it is pretty darn clear that campuses overwhelmingly have professors who give to Democrats and lefty causes.3. Universities pride themselves in diversity, but most universities have yet to diversify campus ideology in the professorial ranks.

1.To be fair, Dr. Godsey contributed to liberal Congressman Jim Marshall, a former law professor from Mercer.

2.SOURCE: Tray.com, which is used for all research herein.

3. Let’s not forget that this information only covers federal candidate contributions. This data already shows that most professors give to Democrats. The data does not even get into lefty professors who do not give, but advocate in their classrooms a lefty agenda.

About the author

Erick Erickson
By Erick Erickson

Erick Erickson

Get in touch

You can check me out across the series of tubes known as the internet.