Is Harvard University racist towards Asians

Ten to one is not possible: The criticism of the left-leaning American universities is becoming more concrete

A recent study uses numbers to show how strongly the supporters of the Democrats dominate teaching in higher education. Is political resistance forming against the long-standing dominance of the left?

US universities are under pressure not only thanks to the #MeToo, gender and censorship scandals. The Trump administration is also becoming active: at the beginning of September, the head of the education department, Betsy DeVos, announced a revision - in other words: weakening - of the Title IX regulations; the law, originally enacted in 1972, aims to prevent sexual discrimination at universities. Even moderate voices were able to gain something from the proposed correction, as the measures to eliminate sexual violence on campus are currently overshooting the target on various occasions. Primarily, however, DeVos' reform seems to be aimed at more fundamental things: It should help to build up pressure on the left-liberal dominance at universities.

One-sided "Affirmative Action"

Two recently announced investigations by the justice and education departments of the Trump administration strike a similar breach. It is about racial discrimination in the admission of students: At the universities of Harvard and Yale, Asian students are said to have been systematically disadvantaged in the admission process compared to other minorities. The actual aim of the Yale and Harvard investigations is "affirmative action", a generic term formally used by President Kennedy for the first time in 1961 for laws and guidelines that guaranteed minorities an emphatically non-discriminatory to supportive treatment in employment procedures and admission to universities.

The strategy behind the research is probably as follows: If the “Affirmative Action” program discriminates against the minority of Asian students in favor of minorities such as Afro-Americans or women, then it is self-contradictory and arbitrary. The prosecutors of the current administration are probably less concerned with civil justice than with a political frontal attack on one of the greatest achievements of the movement for social justice, the legally anchored promotion of diversity.

A long success story

One possible answer to the question of why US universities are increasingly being targeted by the political right is an essay by Mitchell Langbert, Professor of Business and Management at Brooklyn College, City University of New York (CUNY). In "Homogenous: The Political Affiliations of Elite Liberal Arts Colleges" (published by the National Association of Scholars) Langbert examined the party membership of 8,688 full professors at 51 of the 65 leading universities in the United States. (Liberal arts in the United States include subjects from the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, economics, and law).

Professor in the eye of the shit storm

With scientific arguments, Mitchell Langbert wants to draw attention to the party-political list of US universities and bring conservative faculty members on the party line. In doing so, he himself has crossed a deep red line. On his blog, in a post about the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, he let himself be carried away to a sexist tirade: Democrats are “tutu-wearing fagots” who have just found out that 15-year-olds were playing the bottle game. Anyone who did not commit sexual coercion in high school is not male. Bottle play and sexual coercion should become prerequisites for all political and legal offices.

Twitterers soon spotted Langbert's wild outburst - the protest chant quickly swelled. The New York Post, Newsweek magazine and CNN picked up the story as the latest #MeToo and Kavanaugh controversy. Protesting students at Brooklyn College demanded, if not Langbert's head, his dismissal.

Langbert defended his post as satire. As Jonathan Swift suggested to starving Irish in 1729 in A Modest Proposal that they simply sell their children to the English, he had created an absurd situation to draw attention to the real injustice - the prejudice of Kavanaugh. But the parallel seems constructed, the original blog entry shoots unironically against democrats and was sharply criticized by the university management.

However, Professor Langbert will not have to expect any professional consequences: As an employee of a public institution, his private statements are protected by the freedom of speech guaranteed in the First Amendment. It may be that he is leaving CUNY voluntarily as a result of the scandal.

His result: Across the board, there are on average 10.4 teachers who belong to the Democrats for every professor registered as a Republican. While in the STEM disciplines (natural sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics) Democrats occupy between 1.6 and 6.2 times more chairs, in cultural anthropology and interdisciplinary courses they outperform their republican colleagues by a factor of up to 108 - in anthropology and communication the republican professors share is even zero. By comparison, the ratio of Democratic or Republican party membership for US college-graded voters is 1.6 to 1 nationwide.

The fact that universities are fundamentally further to the left in the political spectrum than other areas of life is of course not a revolutionary finding. But the sheer numbers are impressive. As Langbert points out when asked, the reason is by no means that democrats simply have a higher affinity for social and teaching professions. The fact that the majority of university locations are to be found in “blue”, that is, democratically governed, states is of little consequence. Rather, the political left has successfully stamped its political stamp on American higher education for over a hundred years.

Langbert refers to the introduction of the German university system by progressives like Abraham Flexner at the beginning of the 20th century, Franklin Roosevelt's policy of the New Deal era, which was also supported by universities, to the influence of intellectuals who emigrated from Europe such as Herbert Marcuse, Theodor W. Adorno or Hannah Arendt in the post-war period and the sixties to the New Left. The historical retrospect actually plausibly shows the academic leftism as a consequence of a historical-political success story of progressive forces.

The attitude determines the curriculum

Langbert does not accept the objection that the still high level of research and teaching at US universities seems to be little affected by the political partiality of their staff. According to recent studies, the quality at college level is no longer far behind. In addition, political attitudes determine the research subjects and the curriculum: social psychologists of left origin would rather consider the pathologies of personalities from the right spectrum; progressive social scientists tended to shy away from project or collaboration with right-wing or conservative groups such as the National Rifle Association.

What counts as excellence in teaching, research and publications, according to the CUNY professor, who identifies himself as libertarian, arises from a culture of political homogeneity and ideological imbalance. In view of the recent brawls and intrigues, it is not so easy to escape this impression; Examples include the case of NYU professor Avital Ronell, who was suspended for sexual assault, or the suppression of a critical study on the subject of transgenders at Brown University.

The left affiliation is also reflected in donations from academics for politicians, who in return secure regulatory and financial support for the university status quo. A university culture that has grown over decades is difficult to change from the inside out. For Langbert, the consequence of this is that one should “build new colleges from scratch”, rewrite tax legislation for non-profit universities, reduce subsidies and regulations, and increase competition and innovation on the free market.

Langbert explains fatalistically that Republican academics and investors have so far not jumped on the bandwagon and are pushing back into the university: "The Republican faculty members are probably not so committed to their political views." The question is how much longer.