Author: Robert Weissberg

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

the poison of identity politics

Diversity Studies: Your Path to a 6-Figure Salary

Universities face a serious dilemma in their quest for diversity and inclusion. Alas, this noble intention has a cost: degrees in Black studies, Women’s Studies, Gender Studies, and similar identity group majors hardly put much bread on the table. To be blunt, the well-intentioned, socially responsible university is guilty of fraud when it tells its […]

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How to Tongue-Lash Mindless SJW’s

In today’s campus battles, the forces of political correctness enjoy an immense advantage, and to compound this edge, conservatives scarcely notices they’re losing. This is the power to silence critics, indeed remove entire topics from discussion by adroit name calling. Woe to the professors who casually acknowledges that black students rank toward the bottom in […]

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One Surefire Way to Stop Outrageous Student Demands

Why have the forces of political correctness triumphed so easily on today’s campuses? What kind of world is it when a campus can be in turmoil for a week if a white woman wearing hoop earrings is caught serving tacos at “South of the Border Night” in the school cafeteria? All to be followed by […]

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Is Half of College Education Wasted?

Trigger Warning: If you fancy yourself smart enough to understand complex social science, Bryan Caplan’s book, The Case Against Education: Why the Education System is a Waste of Time and Money, may lower your self-esteem. This is a serious, “academic” effort, six-years-in-the-making, and while Caplan, an economist at George Mason University and the Cato Institute, […]

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Charles Murray at Middlebury College

The Real Defense of Charles Murray: Truth Not Free Speech

The Middlebury College incident in which Charles Murray was forcefully prevented from speaking about Coming Apart has generated a mini-industry of brilliant responses on behalf of academic freedom. Unfortunately, at least from my perspective, these high-sounding admonitions are misdirected and paradoxically give comfort to disruptors. Murray’s champions uniformly embrace the classic let- a-thousand-flowers-bloom, anti-censorship argument […]

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Coming Soon to a Campus Near You: Racial Micro-Aggression

You may have read about the UCLA professor whose class was taken over by 25 of his students and other protesters on grounds that he was guilty of racial “micro-aggression.”  Among other things, the professor, Val Rust, was accused of micro-aggressively undermining student advocacy by explaining that the word “indigenous” isn’t capitalized. Rust is a […]

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A Sure-Fire Cure for Anti-Americanism

Is it possible to stop the relentless promoting of anti-Americanism on campus?  Let’s forget about donating millions for a patriotic “American Studies” program. Recall the Bass family’s sad experience at Yale–the $20 million donation for this purpose was eventually returned. Similarly forget about a governor (e.g., Mitch Daniels) or trustees trying to meddle in classroom instruction. “Academic […]

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Educare–To Save Higher Education

How do you end the current disaster where thousands of intellectually mediocre and unprepared kids who should not attend college nevertheless enroll and learn little of value while building crushing debt? And, for good measure, how can we discourage colleges from offering intellectual fluff, e.g., Gender Studies. In other words, return higher education to reasonably […]

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How Hate Facts Kill Scientific Inquiry

When I began by academic career in 1965 as a graduate student in political science, the social sciences seemed on the verge of curing the world’s problems. We were scientists; we had statistics and computers, every student studied scientific methodology, and the National Science Foundation funded our endeavors. Alas, a half century later, pessimism prevails. […]

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How the Koch Boys Could Save American Higher Education

Charles and David Koch are reportedly interested in buying the Tribune Company’s eight newspapers, including The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun. According to The New York Times, this is less about making a profit than acquiring a platform to extol the brothers’ laissez-faire ideas. Current estimates put the price tag […]

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Investing in Higher Education Will Not Bring Democratic Equality

By Robert Weissberg America’s huge investment in higher education has always had a democratic justification: everyone should be able to attend college because this opportunity would flatten the social pyramid. Yes, a North Dakota State and Harvard degree differ in prestige, but at least the North Dakota State graduate can join the game. Put ideologically, […]

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The Affirmative Action Zealots Have Won: Time to Surrender

For a half century I’ve vehemently opposed racial preferences in higher education. Opposition was partially ideological–I believe in merit–and partly based on sorrowful firsthand experience with affirmative action students and faculty. Though my principles remain unchanged I am now ready to concede defeat, throw in the towel and raise the white flag. Abolishing racial preferences […]

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A Modest Proposal to Promote Intellectual Diversity

As one who has spent nearly four decades in the academy, let me confirm what outsiders often suspect: the left has almost a complete headlock on the publication of serious (peer reviewed) research in journals and scholarly books. It is not that heretical ideas are forever buried. They can be expressed in popular magazines, op-eds […]

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How Academics Concocted a New ‘Middle Class’

To hear politicians tell it, the college diploma is the guaranteed gateway to middle-class life, so everybody should probably go to college. The argument seems self-evident–over a lifetime, college graduates far out-earn those without a degree ($2.1 million, supposedly), so go to college, live the American Dream. Unfortunately, as many recent college graduates have discovered, […]

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For Just $195, the Elizabeth Warren Problem Is Solved!

Here’s the answer to the Elizabeth Warren problem: DNA testing. If you believe you are just 1/32nd or 1/64th minority, a simple test–costing just $195–could garner you that elusive admission to an elite college that you may not be qualified for at all. Several commercial products are on the market including Ancestry by DNA and […]

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The Next Toxic Ism: Realism

The social sciences and humanities have not produced much of intellectual value for 25 years or so, but they have been enormously productive in generating “isms”—widely held allegedly toxic beliefs that are said to undermine a professor-defined “good society.” The notable classics—“racism,” “sexism,” classism, and nativism—once sufficed, but unexpected bursts of faculty creativity have given […]

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Why Campus Mascots and Nicknames Are Under Attack

The University of North Dakota sports teams have been known as the “Sioux” or the “Fighting Sioux” for more than 80 years. But this week the university’s hockey team played and lost in the NCAA playoffs wearing uniforms that said simply “North Dakota.” The reason: Last November, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple signed legislation permitting […]

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Unionize All Those Adjuncts?–Let’s Not

Some two-thirds of America’s college students are taught by adjuncts, and now the battle is on over whether these low-paid, low-status workers should be unionized. Adjuncts, also called contingent faculty, are teachers hired without tenure, paid a small fraction of those on tenure-track positions, (typically $2700 per course, with minimal benefits). All three college faculty […]

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Admission Standards and How to Lower Them Legally

Surprise, surprise. Affirmation action for college admissions is yet one more time in the hands of the Supreme Court (Fisher v. Texas). Given the Court’s changed personnel from the last go around (Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 2003), race-based preferences may soon be history. But, would this judicial outcome finally doom preferences? Opponents of […]

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The White Male Shortage on Campus

Soviet ideologues were famous for adjusting Marxism to the zigs and zags of history, but they were pikers compared to today’s campus affirmative-action apparatchiks. The latest installment from university diversicrats is–ready for this–affirmative action for men, not black or Hispanic men, but white men (see here and here and especially here). Allan Bakke, come back, […]

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Look Who’s Endorsing a Race-Based View of Knowledge

The campus diversity warriors are once again pounding at the gates. This time the pounding comes from on high–the American Political Science Association (APSA) itself. It is a serious clamor: a 76 page report called Political Science in the 21st Century authored by fourteen professors, many from elite research-oriented schools such as Berkeley and UCLA. […]

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A New Union: Tenure-Tracks and Adjuncts

Correction: The post that appeared here under the name of Robert Weissberg was not written by him. The author, Lennard Davis of the University of Illinois, Chicago, posted it on Huffington Post. December 2.

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Why Academic Gobbledygook Makes Sense

When I first began teaching political science in the late 1960s I would routinely assign articles from top professional journals to undergraduates. This is now impossible–without exception, they are incomprehensible, overflowing with often needless statistical complexity. The parallel is not the hard sciences where mathematics replaced philosophical speculation. If anything, these articles reflect a trivialized […]

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A Study Sets Out to Prove Tea Partiers Are Racist

Among those prizing truth, modern social science does not enjoy an especially good reputation. As a political scientist myself, I’ve long encountered conservatives who often complain that much contemporary social science does little more than demonize conservative views. Unfortunately, such grumbling is often correct but that said, complainers rarely grasp how this bias is imposed […]

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In Defense of Bad Teaching

In rounding up the usual evil-doer suspects in today’s university, “bad teaching” always makes the short list. After all, who can possibly favor “bad teaching? What’s next–praising bad food or, worse, demanding bad sex? Unfortunately, this commendable impulse to improve teaching may bring a cure far worse than the disease. This is not defending sloth […]

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The Cupcake War as a Religious Event

By now the “Cupcake War” in which the Berkeley College Republicans sold cupcakes with different prices for various ethnic/racial/gender groups is well known. Drawing less attention is why it produced the panicky overkill reaction, including strong condemnations from some university administrators. After all, the anti-affirmative action bake sale hardly threatens the diversity infrastructure and is […]

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Do We Really Want Professors to Be Productive?

Accountability is all the rage in today’s education reform industry and at the university level, “productivity” typically means upping scholarly publishing.  The allure is simple–who can resist prodding lolling-about professors to generate more knowledge?  Unfortunately, putting the thumbscrews on idle faculty will only push universities farther to the left.  Better to pay professors for silence. […]

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What the Madison Confrontation Reveals

Most observers have framed the recent disruption by backers of racial and ethnic preferences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a free-speech conflict. Free speech is clearly involved but lying below the surface are three issues that warrant close attention, specifically how Wisconsin once handled “inclusion;” how the protest reflects the transformation of the idea […]

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Quarantining the PC Pathology

Let’s face it, our noble efforts to detoxify today’s PC-infected university have largely failed and the future looks bleak. This is not to say that the problem is incurable–though it is–but it calls for a solution different from the current approach.  Here’s how. Begin by recognizing that all our proposed cures impose heavy burdens on […]

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On Maintaining the Line Between Teacher and Student

My article here, “Professors Should Dress like Professionals,” speculated that the loss of classroom authority was at least partially traceable to a decline in sartorial standards among the professoriate.              More, however, is involved than shabby attire. It is the systematic attempt to demolish the line between teacher and students that is the culprit. Consider […]

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