Conservative Media Is Waging a War on the Humanities, and It's Succeeding - 2018-07-16
It is a common belief among those on the right that American universities have become hotbeds of subversive thought. In National Review, Frederick M. Hess and Grant Addison write how "too many universities have discarded their sacred commitments to dialogue and truth in favor of ideological crusades." Surveying the range of this outrage, Nicole Hemmer explains in Vox how "Fear of a liberal university faculty has been a feature of modern conservatism for decades, woven into the very foundations of the modern conservative movement."
This suspicion has frequently targeted the humanities, which last century consisted of live white men exclusively studying dead white men. Today, with the humanities having expanded to include studies in ethnicity, gender, race, and class, such exclusivity has been largely eroded. Some conservatives, in turn, not only feel as if they've lost their monopoly on a cultural arena that once reinforced canonical thought; they also believe that the very nature of liberal education has been altered to undermine their agenda with dangerously liberal notions about justice, equality, and access to power. This suspicion is evident in rhetoric that, again using Hess and Addison as an example, claims how "the academy has abandoned its core values of free inquiry in the service of ever-more-rigid political dogmas"—with "dogma" pretty much being code for any political belief that values diversity.
And so conservatives are fighting back. Through a savvy combination of on-the-ground documentation of "radical" professors and the development of a small but influential media ecosystem dedicated to publicizing campus opinions anathema to right-wing ideology, conservatives have built a powerful apparatus to weaken an arena of American intellectual life that's already being gutted financially by state legislators wanting to see higher education become more economically "relevant."