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E-Pluribus | April 3, 2023
Deja vu at Stanford; democracy and liberalism; and DEI: doing more harm than good.
A round-up of the latest and best writing and musings on the rise of illiberalism in the public discourse:
Teddy Ray: The New Stanford Prison Experiment
At The Dispatch, Yale Law School student Teddy Ray shares a provocative take on the DEI regime at Stanford Law in light of the recent shout-down, comparing it to the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment in the 1970s. The students, Ray suggests, are simply following the lead of the administration in their treatment of those with whom they disagree.
. . . We are increasingly coming to believe that people with different ideologies than our own are evil. In a recent Pew survey, most Democrats and Republicans said they believe that members of the other political party are more dishonest and immoral, and less intelligent than other Americans. Only seven years ago, none of these were majority positions. No wonder instances like that at Stanford are becoming more prevalent. Those law students didn’t just believe that Duncan’s beliefs were wrong; they believed that he was evil and thus deserving of abusive treatment.
Too many universities are reinforcing the narrative that certain ideologies—not just fringe ideologies, but those held by one of our two major political parties—are nearly intolerable.
Universities could counter this by hiring ideologically diverse professors, both to expose students to the best ideas from all sides and to signal that they value ideological diversity. Instead, many institutions almost entirely lock out conservative professors and thus reinforce the idea that certain ideologies are not welcome. Take Yale Law School. The last conservative public law professor left the school more than 40 years ago. Since then, not a single constitutional law professor at the school has been right of center. For faculty members embarrassed when their schools make the news or fearful of students who want to enforce ideological purity on campus, the best step would be to advocate for more ideological diversity within their ranks.
[ . . . ]
. . . For all the videos we’ve seen of outraged students on campuses, Tirien Steinbach was the first outraged administrator we’ve seen take center stage. Steinbach’s behavior shows that Stanford’s problem wasn’t out-of-control students without supervision. Instead, their supervisor was prodding them on. She had lost her objectivity as an administrator. She had become the superintendent of the new Stanford prison.
Read the whole thing.
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Ben Klutsey and Shadi Hamid: Democracy and Liberalism
In the latest in a series on liberalism at Discourse Magazine, Benjamin Klutsey of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University interviews Shadi Hamid on a number of topics: conflating liberalism and democracy, is democracy overrated, and democratic backsliding, among others. Klutsey also asks Hamid to address the “messy pluralism” that is often encountered as nations attempt to transition from some authoritarian form of government to a more liberal democratic form.
HAMID: [ . . . ] I think that messy pluralism is vital precisely—as I alluded to earlier, if you take my premise that we’re not going to agree on the foundational questions, then that shifts our attention in how we approach politics. It’s no longer about trying to beat the other side into submission.
And I don’t mean that even violently, but just the idea that Democrats can have a permanent majority and bring Republicans on—they’re going to win this ideological battle through the political process, and then that will be it. Or Republicans thinking that they can become a permanent majority if they bring on more—this supposedly multiracial working class, and with Hispanics, Arabs, Muslims and other communities of color starting to shift at least a little bit away from the Democratic Party.
These are completely—first of all, they’re anti-democratic in spirit, because in a two-party system, if you want your party to have a permanent majority—folks might remember a lot of the books like “The Emerging Democratic Majority,” and everyone’s fantasized about this—but in a two-party system, you do not want a permanent majority. Let me just say that more explicitly: You don’t want your own party to win every single election.
By definition, if you take my premise, you should actually in some way push yourself to want—if you’re a Democrat, to want the Republican Party to win, maybe not in 2024, but you would hope that maybe at some future election. And maybe at that time, culture wars will dial down at least a little bit. (I actually don’t know if that’s the case, but let’s imagine.) But at some point you would want that. People should be hoping for a better GOP that can be a partner in power, a partner in government. I don’t know what the alternative is.
Read it all.
Michael Poliakoff: Do Campus Diversity Offices (DEI) Help Or Harm Diversity?
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are often billed as the only way to produce more just outcomes at institutions steeped in discrimination. At Forbes, Michael Poliakoff makes the case that not only is this method of achieving those ends itself unjust, but it’s far from clear the ends are being reached anyway.
That diverse perspectives foster breakthroughs in our understanding is undeniably true. That successful enterprises already understand this is made evident by the title of Scott Page’s Princeton University Press publication, The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies. In an interview with social scientist Glenn Loury, Sylvester James Gates, the John S. Toll Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland and founding president of the National Society of Black Physicists, cites Albert Einstein’s dictum that imagination is more important than knowledge. He views his work in theoretical physics as akin to music, both of which thrive when people of different cultures and demographics bring their special perspectives to the table.
Much more controversial are the practices of DEI offices to advance the diversity of race, ethnicity, and gender. The case against DEI offices (and the sizable bureaucracies they spawn) almost always holds that their operations restrict free speech and encourage divisiveness, rather than the open-minded pursuit of knowledge and understanding that one typically finds in college mission statements.
[ . . .]
[The] University of California–Berkeley’s. . . DEI budget stands at $36 million with a staff of approximately 152 full-time employees.
And what does the university have to show for all that expenditure and effort? Shockingly little. Federal data reveal that in 2010 the percentage of African American undergraduates at Berkeley stood at 3.0; in 2021, that percentage dropped to 2.0. A macroeconomic study of the effects of tuition increases on minority enrollment shows that a $1,000 increase in tuition correlates with a 4.5% decline in ethnic and racial diversity. The return on investment for schools seeking a more diverse student body would most likely rest in greater need-based scholarship assistance.
Read it all here.
A long thread (excerpts below) from the Free Beacon’s Aaron Sibarium on the fallout from the Stanford shout-down of a federal judge:
Via the US Attorney’s office: “Social Media Influencer Douglass Mackey… has been found guilty by a jury of his peers of attempting to deprive individuals from exercising their sacred right to vote…” by… Tweeting:
And finally, note that the below was published on April 2nd, not April 1st, so we must assume it’s not fake: