Among the great ironies surrounding the state of academia is the continued insistence on hearing more and more “marginalized voices” and increasing “diversity” on campus, as if there is some kind of archaic conservative establishment making that difficult to do.
One would likely be hard-pressed to find a more left-leaning group than college professors and admissions officers, who prioritize pulling marginalized groups out of their marginalization and adding people of diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds to campus conversations.
Yet in their efforts to achieve a more egalitarian conversation, left-wing academics and their students completely ignore (at best) and marginalize (at worst) students and the rare colleague who disagree with them politically.
And therein lies the ultimate irony: The very voices that decry inequality in all its manifestations either accept or turn a blind eye to the stunning dearth of conservative academics and the de facto censorship of right-wing students on overwhelmingly left-wing campuses.
Were it some other group suffering such a marginalization, there is no doubt that the left would be up in arms, crying discrimination and demanding rectification.
Some might even call such a monopoly on prevailing campus orthodoxy a type of “privilege,” defined as an asset “of value that is denied to others simply because of the groups they belong to,” to quote Peggy McIntosh, the matriarch of privilege’s modern construction.
While the marginalization of right-wing thinkers on campus in no way compares to the experience of black Americans throughout history, it might behoove left-wingers on college campuses to think about the various privileges from which they benefit simply by being members of the overwhelmingly dominant group in their academic communities.
1. I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of people of my political persuasion most of the time.
2. I can spend my entire college career taking only classes with professors who think exactly as I do.
3. I can take classes and earn degrees in departments that are designed to line up exactly with my worldview.
4. I can be sure that an overwhelming majority of the material I am assigned to read for class will confirm what I already believe.
5. My professors will assume that I already think just like them, and use examples and anecdotes that testify to our philosophical uniformity.
6. I can almost always be sure that my professor will present or corroborate my side of a debate.
7. I will likely never have to make the choice between writing what I believe to be true and writing what I think will get a good grade.
8. If I do not get the grade I was hoping for, I can be sure it had nothing to do with the professor’s antipathy towards the political views I have expressed, or me personally.
9. I do not have to fear tipping my hand about my political views in my schoolwork.
10. I can pursue an English degree out of my love for literature, not put off by the lenses of critical theory that influence the way literary analysis is taught.
11. I can speak up in class without fear of being derided for my politics.
12. I can feel confident that even if I don’t personally speak up for my side of an issue, it will likely cross my classmates’ minds.
13. I can be sure that even if people disagree with me, they will not call me evil or bigoted.
14. I can avoid spending time with people whom I have been taught to disagree with, and who have learned to disagree with me.
15. I can be sure that no one will chalk up my opinions to privilege or lack of empathy.
16. More generally, I can express my views on controversial topics without my motives and character being questioned.
17. If my ideology becomes a source of personal issues, I have ample support available at an institutional level.
18. If I need a role model with whom I agree politically, I can easily find one or more.
19. I can freely use social media to share my politics (not that I should) and I will receive encouragement and support in ‘likes,’ ‘shares,’ and especially in comments.
20. I can be social and go to parties without facing mockery and looks of confusion from those who assume my lifestyle is ascetic and Puritanical.
21. I can act disrespectfully toward figures of authority and remain immune from criticism.
22. I can talk about my politically oriented extra-curricular activities without fear of judgment or derision from my peers.
23. I can describe my summer writing job without censoring the name of the publication or its political leanings.
24. If I am religious, others will assume that my beliefs are a force for good and not an extension of an anachronistic and oppressive legacy of superstition.
25. I can use buzzwords and academic jargon to make my arguments, and they will be accepted as legitimate.
26. I can safely say that the arc of history bends in my direction and anyone who disagrees will be “on the wrong side.”
27. I can write off opinions of those who disagree with me because of their overarching ideology.
28. If I can categorize someone who disagrees with me as “powerful” or “oppressive,” I don’t even have to listen to them to begin with.
29. I can be confident that no one will dismiss the sources of my news and information as biased.
30. I can easily obtain my college’s support for explicitly political events I’d like to organize.
31. I can get “trigger warnings” appended to texts that challenge me or make me feel uncomfortable.
32. I can get commencement speakers, recipients of honorary degrees, and other guests disinvited from my campus if I disagree with them.
33. I can disrupt and disrespect speakers whom I do not wish to hear; I will subsequently be praised for my denial of their freedom to speak.
34. I can monopolize terms like “justice” and claim that they only apply to what I am saying.
35. I can accuse those who disagree with me of “violence.”
36. I can claim that my personal experiences are “invalidated” by those who disagree with me.
37. If I have to follow current events for class, I can be confident that the recommended sources of news will be slanted in my direction.
38. If I find my ideas challenged, I know I always have a “safe space” to retreat to, where people will massage my challenged beliefs and sing me a lullaby of things I’d like to hear.