Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Politics in Academe

Thanks to Cliopatria for a link to this article:

The New York Sun

May 2, 2007 edition

Mark Moyar, Historian of Vietnam, Finds Academe Hostile to a Hawk

Staff Reporter of the Sun
April 30, 2007

Mark Moyar doesn't exactly fit the stereotype of a disappointed job seeker. He is an Eagle Scout who earned a summa cum laude degree from Harvard, graduating first in the history department before earning a doctorate at the University of Cambridge in England. Before he had even begun graduate school, he had published his first book and landed a contract for his second book. Distinguished professors at Harvard and Cambridge wrote stellar letters of recommendation for him.

Yet over five years, this conservative military and diplomatic historian applied for more than 150 tenure-track academic jobs, and most declined him a preliminary interview. During a search at University of Texas at El Paso in 2005, Mr. Moyar did not receive an interview for a job in American diplomatic history, but one scholar who did wrote her dissertation on "The American Film Industry and the Spanish-Speaking Market During the Transition to Sound, 1929-1936." At Rochester Institute of Technology in 2004, Mr. Moyar lost out to a candidate who had given a presentation on "promiscuous bathing" and "attire, hygiene and discourses of civilization in Early American-Japanese Relations."

It's an example, some say, of the difficulties faced by academics who are seen as bucking the liberal ethos on campus and perhaps the reason that history departments at places like Duke had 32 Democrats and zero Republicans, according to statistics published by the Duke Conservative Union around the time Mr. Moyar tried to get an interview there.

I, too, find it interesting that many in academe that I meet simply can't understand how someone doesn't necessarily agree with them on politics and yet possesses genuine intelligence. Even some of my most liberal friends have intervened to let others at the table know to back off from their insults. Our job as professors is to make students think - not indoctrinate them.

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