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E-Pluribus | July 18, 2022
A campus free speech proposal, religion and politics, and the 1619ing of the founders.
A round-up of the latest and best writing and musings on the rise of illiberalism in the public discourse:
Conor Friedersdorf: How to Fix the Bias Against Free Speech on Campus
Conor Friedersdorf believes Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion administrators at colleges and universities have accumulated too much power without the requisite accountability. In his latest for The Atlantic, Friedersdorf expands on his idea for giving faculty members, those who can be most directly affected by DEI actions, a way to push back against DEI officials who abuse their positions.
[L]ast month, I proposed a way to rein in such investigations: Universities should empower their faculty to check administrators and DEI staffers who undermine freedom of speech. If professors—or perhaps representatives chosen by professors—could sanction and, in extreme cases, terminate anyone who violates First Amendment rights or free-expression policies, administrators would have a powerful new incentive to avoid speech-chilling excesses. Administrators and DEI officials can, of course, be disciplined or fired by higher-ranking university bureaucrats, but they are essentially unaccountable to the scholars and students whose expression they are stifling. Faculty members are more likely than bureaucrats to understand that free speech is essential to academic freedom. On many campuses, when administrators have infringed on faculty or student rights, professors—especially law professors steeped in First Amendment law—have been unafraid to speak up.
[ . . . ]
Even among college professors who find the status quo unsatisfactory, there are doubts about whether empowering faculty to discipline administrators is a viable or optimal solution. Michael Behrent, a history professor at Appalachian State University, in North Carolina, believes diversity is an important goal, and that diversity officials can be useful, but that their current approach does result in efforts to undermine academic freedom. “I think your basic idea is correct, namely, that there should be a mechanism for holding administrators accountable so that they respect academic freedom and free speech rights,” he told me in an email.
[ . . . ]
Any effort to empower scholars against university bureaucrats would need to take account of those potential pitfalls. But all that’s required to test out my approach is one institution willing to experiment, probably over the objection of administrators….
Read it all here.
David French: The God Gap Helps Explain a 'Seismic Shift' in American Politics
Many factors go into party dynamic in American politics, and some long-held assumptions seem to be on less firm ground than once thought. But in his latest for The Dispatch, David French writes that religion, long held to skew towards Republicans, may be an even bigger factor in Democratic losses than many observers seem to think.
[In 2020, the] Democrats got whiter, the Republicans got more diverse, and now all the assumptions are scrambled. Donald Trump lost the popular vote by a far wider margin than he did in 2016, but he did materially better with Hispanic, Asian, and black voters.
[ . . . ]
Moreover, there are good reasons to believe that Hispanic voters will continue to migrate to the GOP. As Ruy Teixeira described this week on his Substack, comprehensive issue polling from Echelon Insights demonstrates that strong progressives have substantially different political and cultural views from Hispanics.
[ . . . ]
What accounts for such monumental differences in beliefs in values? As my colleague Jonah Goldberg often (and rightly) says, we should reject monocausal explanations for complex social phenomena, but here’s a factor that simply isn’t discussed enough. The Democratic Party has a huge “God gap,” and that God gap is driving a wedge between its white and nonwhite voters.
[ . . . ]
The disproportionate secularization of white Democrats represents a danger for the Democratic Party, for the country, and for American religion. The danger for the Democrats is clear. America may be more secular than it’s been in generations, but it is still a quite religious country. It’s far more religious than any European nation. It’s far more religious than Canada or the rest of the anglosphere nations. And it’s going to remain extraordinarily religious for the foreseeable future.
Read it all.
John Fund: Jefferson and Madison Homes Seized by ‘Woke’ Detractors of the Founding Fathers
Hundreds of thousands of visitors pass through the homes and estates of a number of the founding fathers each year to learn and see history. But John Fund writes in National Review that, more often than not these days, they are being lectured on the politics of the left as well.
Recent visitors say the [Monticello] mansion, which has adorned the U.S. nickel coin since 1938, has become a center of radically revisionist history. “The whole thing has the feel of propaganda and manipulation,” Jeffrey Tucker, a recent visitor from the libertarian Brownstone Institute, told the New York Post.
[ . . . ]
The changes are all because the Thomas Jefferson Foundation is now run by Democratic donors and former government appointees. Left-leaning philanthropist David Rubenstein, a Carter-administration official, donated $20 million to restore “the landscape of slavery” at Monticello. This validates O’Sullivan’s Law, named after former National Review editor John O’Sullivan: “All organizations that are not explicitly conservative will over time become left-wing.”
[ . . . ]
Rubenstein’s $10 million gift went to Montpelier, James Madison’s refurbished home in rural Virginia. Madison, of course, wrote the Bill of Rights, much of the Constitution, and a large chunk of the Federalist Papers. In addition, he created the three-branch division of powers that still guides our federal government and served two terms as president.
But the Rubenstein millions haven’t gone to the upkeep of his home or the celebration of Madison’s life. They’ve gone toward a radical reshaping of the story of Montpelier along the lines of the infamous 1619 Project, which puts slavery and racism at the center of all parts of America’s story.
Read the whole thing.
Civil war? Not likely, writes Rachel Kleinfeld at Persuasion, and yet there is danger in not taking trends on political violence seriously:
Some excerpts of a back and forth between Professor Nicholas Grossman and Cathy Young on last week’s Fareed Zakaria column (see item #1) advising Democrats to focus on cultural and more on getting things done:
And finally, Colin Wright on the “gosh, settle down!” technique of the woke: