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At The UO, Dissent Is Conformity

So says Forrest Nabors, a doctoral candidate in political science, in a fantastic editorial response to the self-congratulatory braying of UO Professor David Frank’s recent commentary “Dangerous Silence.” Nabors points out that Frank’s assertion that “The greatest danger lurking on the University of Oregon campus is conformity” is true, but not in the way Frank thinks. Frank cites the Universities great victories for patriotic dissent: Frohnmayer’s defense of the Insurgent, the 1962 invitation to the General Secretary of the American Communist Party, Robert Clark’s defense of Marxist teachings under scrutiny from Salem, etc. But, Nabors correctly points out

“The problem for Frank’s case is that all of his examples do not demonstrate bucking conformity, but are typical of what we who live and work here already know — that the UO campus community is left-progressive to the core…

…In taking the positions they did, our university leaders did not buck the norms of this community, they conformed to our community norms. And since Frank believes that conformity is public enemy No. 1, will he next propose shipping conservative professors in by the truckload? How would university departments meet such a nonconformist proposal? Let us sing out the answer together: Dead On Arrival. The day this university’s search committees deem conservative professors a necessary component in the diversity quotient is the day I recommend you look up from your window at a sky darkened by winged pigs.”

Nabors brings his argument home with the most damning example of intellectual conformity on campus: the fact that his summer PS399: American Conservativism class will be the first course on conservative thought to be offered at the UO in 30 years. With the Republican party in disarray and the split between social conservatives and libertarians widening, Nabors has picked a fascinating time to examine American conservativism. And take on the empty posturing of the defenders of the campus status quo.

  1. CJ Ciaramella says:

    God is dead, and he was very small. I love Kids in The Hall so much.

  2. Timothy says:

    Oh Team Red, when will you learn that your god is a lie?

  3. One nation under God says:

    The GOP is backing back (with style) at this University. ’bout time! God bless this party!

  4. Chris Holman says:

    I’m also wary of the argument that political affiliation taints the education one provides to students. Why does the label of Republican or Democrat carry so much weight? I think it might be better to argue that conservative points of view aren’t often brought up in ways that positively impact the education of students on this campus. Surely, whether one is left- or right-leaning, he or she can forward points of view from across the political spectrum to his or her students?

    Focusing on percentages of one or the other doesn’t make any sense to me, and it’s a very ontologically reductionist sort of argument.

  5. Chris Holman says:

    Agreed. Conservatives who don’t voice their opinion because they’re scared of non-conservatives debating them are, well, they’re lame and ineffective. People who don’t speak up and then WHINE about it are worse.

    If anything, I would think that conservatives would be chomping at the bit to dissect the leftist of the left and show that extreme swings in either direction are never good and there are merits to a lot of ideas beyond your own ideological field of vision.

    Above all though, if you’re thinking of speaking up, be intelligent about it. Too often it’s just douchebags from either side who yell at each other and annoy everyone within earshot. I’ve heard conservatives (College Republicans) and liberals (College Anarchists) both being assholes when they try to squash dissent with the volume of their voice and general incoherence to their argument(s).

    It is easy to intelligently crush demagogues via rational thought and sound arguments backed up with factual information.

    One last caveat: This isn’t directed at anyone in here, just at people in general.

  6. Ford says:

    I strongly dislike the argument that Nabors and others make when they say “Prudent young students of a conservative persuasion truly do lurk about campus

  7. Sean Jin says:

    I feel marginalized at UO for being kind of conservative. I think I will try to get Incidental Fee money to make myself feel better.

  8. Vincent says:

    Get ready to see the old “conservatives are only under-represented in academia because they choose to follow other career paths such as working in right-wing think tanks” hobby-horse dragged out any time now…

  9. Doug Shulman says:

    About 35% of Oregonians are Republican, while about 5% of UO faculty are.

    Political diversity is lowest in those departments that deal with political or cultural issues. For example, Economics, Political Science, and PPPM have a total of zero Republicans. Anthropology, Classics, Comparative Literature, English, Environmental Studies, Ethnic Studies, History, International Studies, Religious studies, Women’s Studies, and the Honors College have a total of 3 Republicans.

    (2006 data)

  10. Betz says:

    An interesting topic, for sure, but the timing this course is being offered (Summer course) makes it a little underwhelming. I’ve never attended a summer term at the UO, but I would be willing to bet that attendance of courses is drastically diminished compared to Fall, Winter, and Spring term courses. More than likely, this will be a “trial” term, and if all goes well, this should be a regularly taught course during the traditional school year. Still, the idea of “freaking out the squares” with conservatism….thats a new one on me!

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