Author: Robert Weissberg

Robert Weissberg is a professor emeritus of political science at The University of Illinois-Urbana.

Belling the DIE Cat

Benjamin Franklin once said, “nothing is certain except death and taxes.” Today, though, a third item may be equally inevitable: academia’s diversity, inclusion, and equity (DIE) bureaucracies. Scarcely a week passes without some school proudly announcing that it will now hire dozens of DIE functionaries and spend millions to promote racial justice. Oddly, many professors, […]

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The Gods of the Academy

Would it not be wonderful to be a Greek god? Imagine being Poseidon, god of the sea, who was able to create storms, earthquakes, and even horses. Or Ares, god of war, who possessed superhuman powers of speed and strength, allowing him to destroy his enemies, even entire armies, at will. This is pure mythology, […]

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Can Asians Fake Their Way into Harvard?

The battle over racial preferences in college admissions usually focuses on universities and the courts, but no less important is what occurs among the applicants themselves. Gaining admission, particularly to elite schools, can be likened to a game, and it is hardly surprising that families lacking “diversity” often hire expensive consultants to give junior an […]

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Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Woke?

Following the antics on today’s college campuses undoubtedly invites mental illness. It’s not easy watching a speaker at an Ivy League school get shouted down with chants of “No KKK, no fascist USA” or hearing about professors accused of bias for addressing students with the “wrong” pronoun. But, mental discomfort aside, must we really fear […]

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Firing Professor Jones: A Whodunit

Decisions regarding the hiring and firing of professors seldom make headlines. At most, a tale about a professor suspended for using the N-word may appear in an academically oriented outlet. But headlines in big-city dailies? Not so much. Yet, this is exactly what occurred when New York University summarily fired Professor Maitland Jones, Jr., a […]

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How Universities Destroy Human Capital

The link between higher education and economic growth is well established: build the schools, attract smart students, and behold, a booming economy. There is, however, a less obvious but equally important link: build the schools, attract smart students, these smart students marry each other and eventually have super-smart children, and the economy will flourish for […]

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Welcome to Bedlam College

Descriptions of today’s campus politics often use a mental-health vocabulary: “crazy,” “insane,” “lunatic,” etc. This terminology is employed for literary purposes to highlight the disconnect between campus life and the “real world.” No one believes that it reflects clinical assessments by certified professionals of actual students and faculty. Nevertheless, this literary vocabulary may contain more […]

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Higher Ed Discovers the Joys of Sex

Colleges and universities were once bare-bones places. Dorm rooms had all the charm of a Motel 6 and school-run cafeterias were comparable to those in high school. Recreation was, maybe, a TV room and a musty gym for pick-up basketball. No matter—education was about learning, not personal indulgence. But, as tuition soars and competition for […]

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Woke Trophy Hunting

The woke mob’s attack on academic heretics can be likened to hunting. Most hunts attract scant attention, often no more than shooting squirrels with a .22. Blocking the reappointment of a visiting instructor at Smallville Community College who mis-gendered a student is an example of this low-level hunting. But of far greater consequence is what […]

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How the Best of Intentions Created Today’s Academic Disasters

Today’s assault on intellectual excellence in the academy will eventually end. Hopefully, an investigation will then commence on its causes, and all the usual suspects will be rounded up. This tribunal will, however, likely ignore one key culprit: ordinary faculty—people like me—who complained about the assault, all while enthusiastically aiding it. Yes, some criticized the […]

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Political Insanity on Campus

Student activism has long been part of campus life. Recall the Berkeley Free Speech movement that began in 1964 over the school’s ban of on-campus political activities. The mid-1960s saw countless  demonstrations protesting the war in Vietnam, which were followed by widespread agitation over racial issues. Nevertheless, current demonstrations differ fundamentally from past activism. The […]

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Are We on the Wrong Side of Biology?

Is the battle to ensure an intellectually open campus winnable? Many would answer “yes,” but there are reasons for pessimism. To be blunt, the life of the mind, the veneration of truth over falsehood, and the pursuit of truth may not be the default option of human nature. Yes, that idyllic world may exist here […]

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Survival of the Smartest

The campus battle between proponents of intellectual merit and those of racial preferences in admissions has been a long and disappointing campaign. Nevertheless, victory now seems within reach thanks to the current Court’s likely opinion in Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College. At long last, racial discrimination will—hopefully—end by […]

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How Diversity Promotes Racial Rancor

Why is it that the more we do to promote diversity the greater the racial acrimony? It is as if a misguided patient took a medicine that only worsened his illness. This paradox is especially visible in higher education, and one can only wonder if a robust intellectual life can survive the seemingly endless quest […]

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Bending the Knee for Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity

Since the early 1960s, universities have sought to achieve racial equality. Initiatives have ranged from offering extra tutoring for struggling minority students to making them more comfortable on campus by providing segregated housing and black-only graduation ceremonies. Unfortunately, nothing has worked. Now, after over a half century of trying everything imaginable and sparing no expense, […]

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Is Violence the Secret Sauce?

When future historians examine the Left’s capture of the academy, a key question will be “Why was it so easy?” And why so quickly, from top to bottom, even at the most prestigious schools, where, most oddly, resistance was almost non-existent? No military historian could find a parallel in which an invading army prevailed similarly […]

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Town vs. Gown: A Personal Memoir

America is awash in culture wars, but one of the least noticed yet most consequential is the hostility between the academy and business. More is involved than a gaggle of Marxist professors condemning capitalism. Academics, especially those in the social sciences and humanities, not only support the increasingly anti-business Democratic Party; their loathing is often […]

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A Gay Bar of Our Own

It is not a good time in today’s academy for those who prize truth. One false step, one off-hand remark, one “wrong” vote on the latest hare-brained DIE initiative, and it’s off to purgatory or worse. Even if found innocent of corrupting young minds by telling the truth, the very thought of facing a Kafkaesque […]

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The DIE Industry’s Iron Rice Bowl Under Attack

It may have taken decades, but thanks to an upcoming Supreme Court case, American universities may soon be legally required to end racial preferences. At least that’s what many hope. Unfortunately, even if the Supreme Court bans racial preferences, the battle will hardly end. It may even become more acrimonious. One should recall what transpired […]

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Why Campus Craziness Never Seems to End

In 1986, economist Herbert Stein proposed what is now known as Stein’s Law: “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” This may have been true 35 years ago, but we’d be hard-pressed to apply this law to today’s colleges and universities. The parade of crackpot ideas is unending, and one can only wonder […]

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Those Little Bard Torquemadas

A recent Wall Street Journal article told of how Bard College, my alma mater, has tasked three undergraduates, funded by the school’s Office of Inclusive Excellence, to peruse the college’s 400,000-book library and evaluate “… each book for representations of race/ethnicity, gender, religion, and ability.” According to the library’s newsletter, this evaluation was the first […]

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Professors, Think Tanks, and Chicken Flocks

In the war of ideas, the Right holds a weak hand for the simple reason that it has minimal access to America’s 20 million college students. Yes, Heritage, the Manhattan Institute, and other right-leaning organizations can publish brilliant, wonkish papers, but this reach pales in comparison to the countless airheaded, lefty professors who indoctrinate thousands […]

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Nothing is Forever … Even Woke Universities

If the proverbial Martian toured today’s American universities, he would be perplexed. On the one hand, elite institutions have never been better. Endowments are soaring, applications for admission are similarly increasing, and families willingly pay ever-higher tuition bills while the schools’ prestige is as unquestioned as always. Yet, our keen-eyed Martian would surely notice underlying […]

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Free Speech vs. Discussing Free Speech

As free speech increasingly disappears from today’s campus, the seemingly good news is that groups defending the First Amendment are multiplying. The most recent are the Alumni Free Speech Alliance and the faculty-based Academic Freedom Alliance, whose members span the political spectrum. Also of recent vintage is Heterodoxy Academy, a group of 5000+ educators committed to […]

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Free Community College Will Only Make Things Worse

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Intellectual Takeout on May 19, 2021 and is crossposted here with permission. Like nearly all Americans, President Joe Biden believes that a college degree is the ticket to both individual economic advancement and uplifting the poor. To put his money where his mouth is, he has proposed $256 billion in […]

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Save the Schools—Unleash the Shysters

The battle against the Diversity-Inclusion-Equity (DIE) colossus is not going especially well. Yes, we are resisting and occasionally score a victory, but our current repertory of weapons is obviously inadequate. Take heart, for there is an alternative: a tsunami of lawsuits over academic malpractice. This is not about our organizations filing suits to end racial […]

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Warning: Beware of Hate Studies

The toxic ideas that have corrupted today’s universities all began as tiny, obscure musings before escaping from the laboratories. They may have started with an unpublished paper or two, a request for modest institutional funding, or an informal discussion group. Eventually, they earn a panel at a regional disciplinary convention and an experimental course. In […]

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They Must Fear Us: A Modest Proposal

Details aside, it is hard to conclude that our side is winning the campus battle. If we were a publicly traded firm, stockholders would be furious. That unpleasant reality acknowledged, let me suggest a key but never articulated explanation for our failures: universities are not afraid of us. Machiavelli got it right: “Ideally, a prince […]

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Killing the PC Pox: A Suggestion and a Note of Pessimism

As a university professor I’ve witnessed the intellectual carnage afflicting today’s campus firsthand, including the suicide of two distinguished colleagues. And it grows worse as it spreads from the academy’s soft side to the hard sciences, even escaping the campus’ ideological wet markets to infect organized religions, professional societies (especially law and medicine), sports, and, perhaps […]

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Dr. Welfare Queen, Ph.D.

Military disasters such as Pearl Harbor often warrant official investigations. But another one is sure to come. Decades from now, an official inquiry will look into how American universities collapsed into madness during the early twenty-first century. Unfortunately, when that day finally arrives, very few of us who survived that insanity will be around to […]

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