What is Wrong with Quotas? Equality, Democracy, Bias, and Balance in American Society
Mr. Benjamin, PhD University of Pennsylvania, is a retired professor of history (Foreign Policy and International Relations). He is the author of A Student's Guide to History.
I was thinking the other day about the issue of academic freedom. Conservative scholars have discovered the secret control of liberal arts departments by, of all people, liberals. The remedy suggested is balance, achieved by ending the liberal bias of current hiring and tenure decisions. Who can oppose balance or support bias? It seems true that if the controlling liberals say, in a department of English or of Sociology, would eliminate the bias that has kept their departments lilly-left, they would take a significant step toward the multicultural institution they say they admire. Surely this is a reasonable request. (After all, this is such a thing as right-wing culture.)
Since it is true that bias clearly favors continued imbalance, the effort to achieve balance require a “surge” in the number of conservatives in, say, departments of anthropology. Due respect for the fossil evidence supporting intelligent design would remove a major roadblock to hiring someone with a dissertation on “Darwinism: The Problem from Hell,” or on “The Devil is the One and Only Other.”
Departments of Physics would greatly benefit by replacement of the terribly warped theory of space-time derived from the work of a mere clerk in the Swiss Patent Office. (And for this phlogiston was sacrificed!) Proponents of stringy theory deserve to be heard. (See: Pasta Studies “Is Nano Still Too Long?”) Despite the fact that everyone knows that Existentialism is a dead end, departments of Philosophy refuse to allow the kind of balance that would derive from new faculty in the “Life is Great” school. A rampant pessimism blocks their acceptance by hiding behind a disgusting relativism. (All of this is exposed in the latest issue of the Journal of Paradigm Studies, “It All Depends on How You Look at it.”)
Removing bias would draw many bright flat-earth natural scientists to departments of Geology. Plate Tectonics would finally face a serious challenge opening the way for the new Tsunami theory based on path breaking bathtub studies based on recent work by Archimedes. Moreover, under the new dispensation, courses in Environmentalism could be taught by characters from Dickens who would hold such prestigious appointments as the Dark, Satanic Mills Chair of Pollution Studies. Psychology departments would now be free to hire specialists in Intelligence, such as the author of the fine study “If You’re So Smart Why Isn’t Your IQ higher?” Opportunities to teach courses in Feminist/Queer studies would, finally, be open to talented jocks.
In the course of my research, I found it shocking to discover that a job candidate for a position in Economics was passed over wholly on the basis of negative responses to his dissertation: “Market Forces as a Cure for Community.” Nevertheless, a quick survey of hiring data made it clear that, in the discipline of Economics, liberal bias has taken a Philip’s curve. The data are quite clear, all of the Chairs in Entrepreneurialism are held by neo-classical economists! Can this be no more than coincidence? In fact, there is not a single holder of such a chair who is a Marxist. Talk about lack of balance!
To be fair, aspects of the lack of balance in the dismal science may be merely the result of communist conspiracy. It would appear that a powerful force behind the growth of faculty positions in schools of neo-classical economics is the not well hidden fact that the Chinese Communist Party has started to place job notices in the Wall St. Journal. To underscore the strength of this assault on balance, ads in the far left New York Times by the Cuban Communist Party have had little success. (Data based on a study by A. Rand, “Ideological Supply and Demand,” Hayek Press.)
While on the subject of conservative bias, surely there can be no objection to adding a healthy infusion of anarchists to departments of Government now woefully weighted on the side of republican (as well as Republican) theorists. The shocking under-representation of atheists in schools of theology clearly needs to be addressed. What other than bias can explain the complete absence of astrologers and alchemists from fields they dominated as recently as the sixteenth century? The data on Phrenologists only makes the case stronger. Nor could my research discover a single professor of mathematics whose work challenged the Pythagorean Theorem.
(These examples are taken from J. Swift, The Path to Ignorance, Psychlite Press.) Somewhat less surprising is the absence of witches or monsters teaching in departments of folklore. (A colleague involved in hiring in the field relates that monster’s vita do not make pleasant reading.)
Outside of the academy, signs of bias abound as well. Liberal bias is most shocking when one examines so-called “civil rights” organizations. A poll of the members of the ACLU found only three percent (3%) who opposed free speech. This in an organization that prides itself on support for minority opinion! Gay/Lesbian organizations apparently have a policy (stated or otherwise) that bars admittance to homophobes. Well known is the prejudice against short people in the NBA; or against non-skaters in the NHL. Other outrages of this kind are treated in: The Bias that Dare not Speak its Name (Simplicity Press).
Conservatives may have alerted us to this kind of problem but what evidence of balance can one find in right-wing organizations? You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to suspect that the NRA regularly turns down applications by pacifists. Is this justified? What of the obvious prejudice against people of color by the Klan? Do they expect us to buy their argument about sampling error?
As the obvious solution to bias is a policy of strict balance, what objection could there be to adding liberals to conservative bodies. The current absence of a Supreme Court Justice who clerked for Felix Frankfurter (or even William O. Douglas) should be addressed. Why has there never been, I ask, a militant Muslim on the Joint Chiefs of Staff? (If, in the 1950’s, we could have communists in the State Department, national security can surely survive a few mad bombers in, say, the Strategic Air Command.) The Heritage Foundation, cleverly stacked with covert pro-American types, should, in the name of balance, bring Noam Chomsky on board, perhaps to fill a new position in “American Self-Hatred Studies.”
The media should contribute its share to the jihad against imbalance. Fox News should hire John Stewart, who would (finally) bring a serious perspective to the news. As a result, there would be fewer slots for the pre-emptive pundits with their geopolitical game diagrams. (Such types could now be renditioned -- however extraordinary that might seem -- to a land where, in a variety of stressful positions, they would be made to listen to a tape loop of Albert Schweitzer playing Bach mixed with crowd sounds from Woodstock I.) Free download available from Masta Rasta at “Fire-Next-Time Studios.”
Some may argue that balance is oxymoronic in the following cases but it still strikes me as odd that I am the first to raise the question. For example, one can find no children on the board of the AARP; no one with diagnosed emphysema among the 8,461 scientists working for tobacco companies; or, to look at the other side for a moment, no executive of a tobacco company has ever led the American Lung Association.
Politics is a place where one might expect to find balance. However, our richly diverse electorate is not reflected in our governmental institutions. The House Democratic Caucus bars Republicans. (I suspect the Republicans have a similar unjustified policy.) In fact, the chairmanships of every committee in Congress are held by members of just one political party! The same is true, sadly, of the presidency. (Why the millions of voters who favor someone else for president allow this brazen assault on our revered two-party system, I cannot imagine. In a similar vein, what excuse can there be for the undeniable fact that no sitting Federal Court judge is a convicted felon? (See, “Longitudinal Survey of Federal Court System,” Association of Incarceration Graduates, Lock Down Press.)
As there are no class divisions in our society, you may be brought up short by a survey of billionaires (who represent only .05% of the U.S population), indicating that they occupy a whopping 82% of the homes in upscale gated communities. While some might say that diversity, in this instance, would contradict the whole purpose of such communities, I still find it scandalous that, after extensive research, I could not find a single homeless person living in one.
Another unaccountable instance of what would appear to be economic bias concerns the fact that racially segregated communities are overwhelmingly composed by people of color. Given the well known fact that spending quality time with white folks is uplifting, one is hard put to explain this strange choice of environment. Unless, of course, this is a case of self-selection. (See: “Resistant Aspects of the Ghetto Mindset,” Journal of Urban Renewal, Vol. 3, #3.)
The present administration (May Allah protect us!) is itself a source of imbalance. Ninety-four percent of arms contracts to only three firms; no Marines under 5’10” (which clearly would have prevented Napoleon from entering the Halls of Montezuma.); no illegal immigrants in (what is clearly misnamed) the “Justice” Department Why Alberto Gonzales failed to notice this one is beyond me. And while I am at it, what justification is there for denying jobs as air traffic controllers to the partially-sighted?
Opponents of torture, as far as I have been able to determine, make up only 14% of the thousands of employees at CIA. And what of this one for narrow mindedness: all “renditions” have been carried out by people wearing ski masks! Why no Batman masks; baseball caps; dew rags; or veils? As there is a policy of deeply embedded denial on this matter there are likely other, as yet undisclosed, “un-American” acts that have been hidden from voters. (This would be especially true for would-be voters advised that their polling station had been moved to Kazakhstan.)
Some of this data was provided by anonymous whistle-blowers peeking in the windows of the School of Stress Management where a bulletin board announced meetings of the “Light Footprint brigade;” Guantanamo vacation packages; the “How to avoid Habeus Corpus” advisory board and a meeting of the local Star Chamber Society.
By the way, there is no justification for confining the “people of book” to one holy text. Madrassa classes should include Torah readings; students in Schools of Divinity could be required to pray at least three (if not five) times a day.
One final balancing act should be mentioned. Here the subject is academic scholarship. Replace the vacuous debate over the existence of the Holocaust by a compromise between semitic and anti-semitic authors. In the name of balance, they might settle their differences by agreeing that three instead of six million Jews were killed. A similar bargain could be struck between materialists and people of faith by declaring that evolution is the cause of 50% of the nature of human beings while the other 50% is the work of god. Obviously, the nature vs. nurture debate could be resolved in the same manner.It is amazing how many seemingly intractable problems can be resolved in this way.
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Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008
I like this kind of piece, and I like this piece. But when you write:
"One final balancing act should be mentioned. Here the subject is academic scholarship. Replace the vacuous debate over the existence of the Holocaust by a compromise between semitic and anti-semitic authors. In the name of balance, they might settle their differences by agreeing that three instead of six million Jews were killed."
it suggests you do not understand the revisionist issue involved.
Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008
As I say, I like this kind of thing, one reason being that I like the humor, and the kind of humor, in it. I agree with Geshekter that it rather goes on too long.
But when Benjemen writes: "Replace the vacuous debate over the existence of the Holocaust by a compromise between semitic and anti-semitic authors" there is a kind of ingnorant stupidity involved --- or whould I say that it's a "bad joke." It wouldn't matter if the taboo against discussing the Holocaust question were not taboo, and if the taboo were not defended by the intellectuals as a class, who use precisely the "semitic/anti-Semitic equation to support the taboo.
So far as what "camp" I am in, you imply you did not know until this post. I don't believe you.
Rod Ellis MacLean - 9/23/2007
would HSS have to conduct a survey as to who takes this article seriously and those who take it very seriously and block the address there is parity?
Thomas W Hagedorn - 9/19/2007
Professor Benjamin should have been paying attention on his own campus. Apparently, FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education)got its start at Penn. Professor Alan Kors is one of its principals. FIRE wins cases of gross violations of individual academic freedom and free speach all the time. They will defend anyone, but usually they find themselves defending a conservative student, professor (both of them), or administrator from a biased left-winger or a university policy or action that is biased against conservatives.
My position is real simple. Leftists need to end the bias that clearly exists against political and religious conservatives or face defunding. Spread your propaganda on your own dime.
Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 9/18/2007
We had a Democrat federal judge impeached by the House in 1988 by a vote of 413-3, Judge Alcee Hastings of Florida, for perjury and accepting a bribe of $150,000. He was convicted by the Senate in 1989 by a vote of 69-26, and thus removed from the bench. Among those voting against him were John Conyers and Patrick Leahy. Unfortunately, Judge Hastings is now ruling over us again, as a member of the powerful House Rules Committee and a prominent member of the House Democratic Leadership team.
What is urgently needed is a crooked Republican federal judge who can be impeached and convicted of high crimes, then elected and reelected to Congress until he has gained seniority and important power. Until we have a Republican to match Hastings, all claims we have a truly "balanced" government will be just a hollow mockery of the truth.
Charles Lee Geshekter - 9/17/2007
Jules R. Benjamin, Ph.D. would do well to heed the advice of heavyweight champion Joe Louis who observed, "when a man's got something to say, he don't need to take all week to say it."
Enjoy your retirement Mr. Benjamin.
Jonathan Dresner - 9/17/2007
Talk about missing the point!
Though it's nice to see Mr. Smith admitting to which camp he belongs.