Whether speaking about West Chester University or about college campuses in general, it is a well-established fact that college faculty tend to lean considerably to the left end of the political spectrum. This tendency is much more pronounced in the social sciences and humanities, not only in terms of the proportion of left-leaning faculty in these departments, but also in terms of the degree to which these faculty members lean left.
Studies have found that in humanities departments, five percent of faculty identify as Marxist, and about 20 percent identify as “radical.” In the social sciences, about 18 percent of faculty identify as Marxist, and about a quarter identify as radical. That means that one out of every four faculty members in the humanities leans very far left, and the same could be said for a little under half of professors in the social sciences.
This has led to the establishment of what I will call a political correctness orthodoxy on college campuses. We see indicators of this all the time, whether here at West Chester or around the country. We constantly hear the creed of diversity, inclusivity and equity, often accompanied by talk of things like privilege and systemic racism. What underlies this dogma is an obsession with identity politics fused with Marxism.
Constantly facing this orthodoxy on campus presents many challenges for those who do not subscribe to it. Here I am speaking to conservatives, classical liberals, libertarians and moderates; essentially, anyone who does not fall on the far-left end of the political spectrum.
In classes, when material is presented in terms of this doctrine of political correctness, it can be very difficult to summon the courage to voice one’s own seemingly heretical opinions. And so many of us choose to not speak up. But here I want to present a case for why it is that we should share our views on campus.
First, let’s look at the two main reasons why we might tend to remain silent against this ideology: one reason is the fear of sticking one’s neck out. We may fear the consequences of sharing heretical opinions, either because of the pressure originating from the student body or because of the pressure originating from our professors.
We might not have enough confidence that we can make a strong case for our viewpoint. Either other students could argue against us, or our professors could. We might fear the risk of appearing like a fool in the face of counterarguments or denunciation.
But the thing to keep in mind is that you do not have to win an argument. You do not even need to start an argument. All that you should consider doing is raising a reasonable, alternative perspective on an issue.
This dominant leftist ideology is in many ways in the dominant position it is because there are not enough viewpoints presented against it. Because political correctness is worshipped by our educational institutions and reinforced by the media and Hollywood, many people never really hear any other perspective. For that reason, proponents of the ideology do not even need to have good arguments.
Political correctness spreads, not by the validity of its argument, but merely by being constantly preached. Economist Thomas Sowell once said: “Some things are believed because they are demonstrably true, other things are believed because they have been asserted repeatedly.”
By sharing your viewpoints in class, you can open people up to seeing that there are ways of looking at an issue other than the politically correct way. As political correctness spreads, it encloses those who subscribe to the ideology within a bubble. So, by sharing dissenting views, we can put chips in the wall for those who have been taken up by the ideology. Simply knowing that there are other ways of looking at an issue and that these ways are reasonable can plant a seed for someone, with the hope of helping them eventually get outside of their ideological walls.
One of the other reasons that we might stay silent instead of sharing our views is because we think that our actions are effectively meaningless and will not have an impact. But this simply is not true. I recently read a great post online that makes this clear.
Consider the following: “People often wonder what it would be like to travel back in time. One fear that people have when imagining being back in time is that they could do or say something small, in the past which they have time travelled to, which would have serious and lasting effects into the present day from which they travelled. And this is a completely reasonable concern.”
The post goes on, “however, how many of us seriously think that by doing or saying something small in our present day, it can make a significant and lasting impact in the future? In modern times, nihilism is rampant, and I would venture to say that many of us do not typically think that small actions have large consequences. But if we have reason to think that doing something small in the past could have a lasting impact into our present day, then we also have reason to think that doing something small today can create a lasting impact on the future.“
“Each one of our actions is like a stone being dropped into a pond, in that the effects ripple outwards. We have a bigger impact in the world than we often think, even if we cannot see most of our effect,” it concludes.
Political correctness is in many ways being imposed from the top down; from educational institutions, the media and Hollywood. But, it can be successfully fought from the bottom up. All that is needed is for reasonable people to confidently speak their minds, knowing that it will make a difference.
Sam Dugan is a fourth-year student majoring in economics and philosophy. ✉ SD829860@wcupa.edu.