Affirmative Action for Intellectual Diversity?

Give credit where credit is due. The campus lefties are now whining, and they are doing an excellent job of it. Nay, superlative.

What is the complaint? It is that elected state officials, governors, and legislators are sticking their snouts where they do not belong. Namely, they have the audacity to dictate what should and should not be taught at colleges and universities and how they should be run.

Specifically, they have all but banned “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) statements as a requirement for hiring and promotions. When our friends on the left attempted to substitute “belonging” for DEI, the politicians gave the backs of their hands to that subterfuge as well.

Nor should we forget the meddling of the Supreme Court of the United States. Imagine! Those friends have banned Affirmative Action, the bedrock of socialist professors. Nor should we forget about grievance studies: black studies, queer studies, feminist studies, and all the rest. These, too, are under the gun by politicians who must be brought to heel.

Perhaps the leading target of this outrage, in the view of the parlor pinks, is Governor DeSantis of Florida, where “woke goes to die,” thank goodness. Their cri de coeur is that faculty in the Sunshine State are eyeing the exits. Well, bad cess to them in their new faculty posts. They will ruin their new intellectual homes as they have done from whence they are supposedly leaving. Their taunt is that inferior faculty will be hired in their places. And, indeed, there is some truth in that charge, at least in terms of formal credentials. The left has been so overwhelmingly powerful at our institutions of higher learning that they have been hugely successful in precluding from the professoriate—so much for “inclusion” —scholars who are not entirely “woke.”

Of course, intellectuals, other things equal, are far better able to determine what should and should not be taught in class than politicians and judges. But other things are hardly equal. This assumption only applies on the assumption that the scholars are open to all shades of opinion. As John Stuart Mill eloquently said: “He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion.” If students have never even been acquainted with critiques of Marxism—and all too often they have not been on campus—they have been cheated.

The reality on most college and university campuses differs greatly from what outsiders think. Administrators and professors are open to diversity of race, sex, and sexual preference and pretty much to everyone under the sun except for straight white males. Intellectual diversity is to them like the cross to a vampire. It is evil, sexist, racist, ci-gendered, and all the rest. All those who favor it are considered fascists, Nazis.

As matters stand, the incursion of these “outside forces” is a vast improvement. The now-embittered economic and cultural Marxists started this intellectual war. When they were in the driver’s seat, all was well. They regard this comeuppance they are now suffering from as totally unjustified. It never would have occurred, had they not been so intent and successful in achieving an all but monopoly over what is taught, published, how hiring and promotion are determined, etc.

But now a word of caution for the “interlopers.”  It will do little good, say, to forbid the use of Rawls in class and insist on substituting Nozick. Ditto for replacing Marx with Mises or banning Myrdahl so that Hayek may be read instead. Ditto for substituting Sowell for Kendi.

No, the rot goes far deeper than that. The professoriate is just riddled with “progressives”—actually, regressive—of various types and varieties. It is as if Bernie Sanders or AOC were virtually the only professors. Even vastly improving the readings will do a little good, but not much. In any case, it is important that students be made aware of all intellectual literature to make up their own minds about what makes the most sense.

The only way to solve this quandary is to borrow a leaf and implement Affirmative Action. Yes, you read that correctly. All future hires should be limited to conservatives and libertarians until some vestige of parity is achieved. Then and only then will students receive the sort of education they deserve. I do not say that anything like 33-33-33 percent is required. Even 50 percent for Marxists and 50 percent for all others will do just fine to start with. In any fair intellectual fight, the lefties will not prevail, given the calamities brought on by their theories.

When some semblance of balance of this type is attained, I promise to join the leftie whiners. Then and only then should the politicians mind their own business and leave scholarships to the scholars. However, if the pinkos rise in the ascendancy again, as seems to be their wont, I would once again welcome such outside “interference.”

Nor will it be sufficient to ban such grievance “studies” such as black—anti-white—studies, queer—anti-straight—studies, feminist—anti-male—studies, Middle Eastern—anti-Israel—studies as Yenor urges.[1] Yes, it cannot be denied; this would be a gigantic step in the right direction. But, as I say, the rot goes far deeper than that. If this were undertaken in an attempt to impose some intellectual balance on campus, we would also have to eradicate most humanities and social science “studies” since they are as deeply embedded with Marxism as the aforementioned. For example, sociology, anthropology, history, political science, psychology, criminology, and geography must be disassembled. Economics, perhaps, would be the only one left, and that is by no means assured, given how deeply Keynesianism and Marxism have infiltrated even into the dismal science. The entire humanities sector—philosophy, religion, classics, literature, poetry, art, music, etc.—would also have to be shunted aside for this very reason. Only STEM disciplines would remain!

No, affirmative action for intellectual diversity is the only possible remedy. Until and unless conservative and libertarian professors are once again welcomed on campus and in sufficient numbers to allow for true intellectual diversity, our colleges and universities will remain an intellectual cesspool.

This course of action will not be without challenges. Who can be relied upon to administer this type of affirmative action? Certainly not the present professoriate. The feminist studies professors regard their male colleagues as rapists. Black studies professors regard whites as killers. Middle Eastern studies professors regard Jews as colonizers. The list goes on.

No, the only people who can be trusted on this sort of thing are economics professors who are “market fundamentalists”—full disclosure: I happen to be one such—i.e., politicians with the insight and courage of a Rand Paul or a Ron DeSantis and judges of the ilk of an Andrew Napolitano. Others I would fully trust to separate the wheat from the chaff in this regard include Bill Ackman, Randy Barnett, Doug Casey, Richard Epstein, Dov Fischer, Heather MacDonald, Deirdre McCloskey, Javier Milei, Jeffrey Miron, Charles Murray, Jordan Peterson, Steven Pinker, Christopher Rufo, Ilya Shapiro, Thomas Sowell.

Not all of these people are anarcho-capitalists of the Milei variety. They are not even all market fundamentalists. But they all have a good sense of proportion. They can all be trusted to ferret out a woke Marxist of either the economic or cultural variety. If this solution to the overwhelming preponderance of left liberals is to succeed in bringing about some semblance of intellectual diversity, it is to people of this sort who will have to be relied upon to bring about affirmative action for conservative and libertarian professors.

Ordering black studies academics to acquaint their students with the publications of Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams will not suffice. Compelling feminist professors to even mention Ayn Rand or Heather MacDonald will not either. Only affirmative action has a chance of righting the wrongs leftist academics have imposed upon our institutions of higher learning.

[1] Yenor, Scott. 2024. “Viewpoint-Neutral Teaching Isn’t Enough. If reformers want to tear down progressives’ campus hegemony, they need better tactics.” January 10;

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3 thoughts on “Affirmative Action for Intellectual Diversity?

  1. “Their taunt is that inferior faculty will be hired in their places. And, indeed, there is some truth in that charge, at least in terms of formal credentials. The left has been so overwhelmingly powerful at our institutions of higher learning that they have been hugely successful in precluding from the professoriate—so much for “inclusion” —scholars who are not entirely “woke.””

    There is precedent in hiring faculty without formal credentials — all of the early Computer Science professors came out of fields like Physics or Electrical Engineering because Computer Science was then a new field that wasn’t yet awarding doctorates.

    A better example are fields such as Afro-Am which also weren’t yet awarding doctorates and faculty were hired on the basis of alternative credentials such as books they had written and what they had done in the civil rights movement. It was accepted that their CVs were quite sparse because they hadn’t been given the opportunity to do anything — just like White male heterosexual conservatives today.

    The current house divided against itself will not continue to stand — the parents of America are not going to continue to send their children to the leftist gulags and purgatorial cesspools that higher education has become. Nor are the taxpayers going to continue to fund it, and elected officials have every right to specify how their constituent’s tax dollars are spent — or not spent.

    Thrice before we have established entirely new college systems to meet social needs. In the early 19th Century we established Normal Schools (teacher’s colleges) to educate elementary school teachers. A generation later we established Land Grant Colleges to teach “Scientific Agriculture and Mechanical Arts (engineering).” A century later we established Community Colleges to teach things like auto repair and culinary skills — and to provide an open-admissions alternative for those with college aptitude but without the credentials.

    Reality is that we soon will have way more college seats than we have students to fill them — the babies not born in 2008 won’t be turning 18 in Fall of 2026 and even without a significant downturn in the percentage of 18-year-olds going to college, the demographics alone are going to destroy a lot of institutions. I’ve seen estimates that half the existing colleges and universities will either merge or close by the end of this decade, and it’s already happening.

    Thus even a 100% affirmative action hiring will accomplish little because there aren’t going to be new hires — not at institutions that are laying people off. And worse, we don’t want to hire RINOs — we want to hire true conservatives and not glib grifters who have succeeded in the academic cesspool by selling their souls to whomever was in power, and have fancy CVs as a result.

    I also don’t see how change will come without a wholesale purge of the existing academy,
    particularly in the Student Affairs Divisions which are the true 9th Circles of Hell — I don’t think people realize just how reprehensible Student Affairs actually is. And I also think that the era of the large residential campus is over — young people now have more freedom in high school than they do in college, and the friendships they make are largely independent of the college, and the college towns (which wouldn’t exist without the student’s money) are increasingly intolerant of the students.

    What rational person would want to go spend four years in a community where you are hated???

    Even assuming that Trump is not re-elected, that Congress blindly reauthorizes the Higher Ed Act (which funds student aid), and the percentage going to college doesn’t drop even further, there’s still going to be a bloodbath in two years when the freshmen not born in 2008 don’t show up on campus — and the demographic drop extends beyond that…

    It’s going to be like the PennCentral Bankruptcy — I think the institution as a whole is going to evolve into something that none of us would ever recognize — no more than someone in 1969 would recognize a profitable railroad industry largely consisting of just four railroads whose primary business involves doublestacked shipping containers (i.e. trucks).

    We have thrice before created new college systems to meet social needs. Twice before — in 1945 with the GI Bill and then in 1965 with the Higher Ed Act — we have vastly improved access to higher education at public expense. Very few of the colleges which started out religious still are — even a place such as Hillsdale (founded by Baptists) now identifies as nondenominational Christian. Lord knows what the Puritans would think of Harvard…

    America is the land of entrepreneurship — there is a market of parents who want a sane education for their children, preferably one that will enable them to get something better than a job at Starbucks. There is a labor force of academic refugees who would be happy to help provide it. And maybe some entrepreneur or politician (and politicians are entrepreneurs) can figure out how to bring this together.

    I’ll end on one other thing that I usually use to explain MAGA although it applies here as well. Friedrich Nietzsche once said “that which does not kill me serves only to make me stronger” and what the left does not understand is that we have had to fight for everything we have. When you go into a grad seminar where the professor and all the other students are attacking everything you believe in, you get very good — very quickly — at defending what you believe in and knowing why you do.

    Sixty years later, it’s a different group of people singing “We Shall Overcome…”

  2. The author’s proposal will never, ever achieve parity.

    Suppose you have a woke education department on campus. You establish an affirmative action program for intellectual diversity and, as a result, hire a new tenure-track, conservative assistant professor. Now what?

    Well, at best this new professor is going to teach between one and three courses per academic year during most of their 6 year tenure evaluation cycle. That’s going to have virtually zero impact. Moreover, when they do come up for tenure, it’s the woke professors in that department who will vote on whether or not tenure should be awarded. Your affirmative action program may affect the hiring, but it will not affect the voting.

    No, affirmative action programs won’t work. The only way to achieve parity is dissolving the department and then rebuilding it from scratch with new faculty and a new curriculum.

    1. Oh it’d be worse than that — and I doubt he’d last six years.

      First would be his schedule, an 8AM class one day and one that ends at 10:30 the next — in classrooms all over campus and none anywhere near his office, which likely would be a broom closet. No assistance on getting grants or anything else, a pariah at professional societies and probably having his classes routinely disrupted by woke activists.

      The final straw would probably be the campus police telling him that they have heard of individuals intending to “smash his head in with large rocks” and that they didn’t intend to do anything about it — he could quit or die, his choice.

      I agree — the only thing that will save academia is a wholesale purge.

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