Conservatives love playing the victim - 2017-09-22
In an interview with Psychology Today last week, Claire Lehmann, the founder of the libertarian-leaning, academia-focused digital magazine Quillette, suggested that the website was a refuge from the political correctness and leftist bias that allegedly plague both academia and the mainstream media.
"Local cultures on many campuses are not conducive to risk-taking and creativity in all sorts of ways, from over-bureaucratization to oppressive social and speech norms," Lehmann, an Australian writer who claims she was "blacklisted" by local media for being critical of feminism, said. "So my goal with Quillette is to provide a 'safe space' for people, academics or otherwise, who have novel ideas but might feel stifled by such norms." In Lehmann's view, college campuses — which were, in the distant past when populated only by rich white people and descendants of Puritan settlers, home to lively debate — need to be reclaimed from the bureaucrats and administrators who stifle ideological dissent and punish those who refuse to toe the illogical, irrational line of political correctness. Universities, Lehmann claims, "have abdicated their mission of preserving and transmitting the cultural capital of western civilization." At the same time, elite universities — not only the Ivy League, but also small liberal arts schools — "seem more invested in being finishing schools for the wealthy than in preserving the integrity of their liberal arts courses." Higher education is out of touch, Lehmann suggests, not only with the average American but with rational thought itself. Quillette is here to save academia from itself.
Unsurprisingly, Quillette has become a hub for reactionary thought. The website, which started publishing in 2015 and is funded by a modest Patreon account, didn't receive much attention outside academic circles until August, when it published four scientists' responses to former Google engineer James Damore's memo lambasting the company's diversity efforts. Three of the four agreed with Damore. "The author of the Google essay on issues related to diversity gets nearly all of the science and its implications exactly right," wrote Rutgers psychology professor Lee Jussim. "As a woman who's worked in academia and within STEM, I didn't find the memo offensive or sexist in the least," said writer and neuroscientist Debra Soh. University of New Mexico psychology professor Geoffrey Miller said "almost all of [Damore's] empirical claims are scientifically accurate," and praised him for making his case "carefully and dispassionately."