Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Academic Affirmative Action for Conservatives?

A former student or ours, a conservative, got the following e-mail:
You are invited to the

Harvard Kennedy School

GOP Recruiting Reception

Hosted by

Judy Kugel, Acting Dean of Students

The University Club

1135 Sixteenth Street, NW

Washington, DC

October 7, 2009

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Acting Dean of Students Judy Kugel will discuss Harvard Kennedy School’s degree programs, admissions procedures & updates from campus.

Please RSVP to dana_garfunkel@harvard.edu by September 30.

Mid-Career Master in Public Administration

The one-year Mid-Career Master in Public Administration (MC/MPA) is an intensive eight credit program, preceded by a one-month summer program exclusively for Mid-Career professionals. The MC/MPA is designed to increase the knowledge and skills of well established, high-performing professionals, who seek to enhance their public service careers or to move from the private sector to a leadership position in either the public or non-profit sectors.

These experienced professionals, in consultation with their advisers, plan individual academic programs designed to develop new skills or to pursue emerging professional and intellectual interests. In doing so, MC/MPA students are constrained only by the requirement to take at least one course in each of the Harvard Kennedy School foundational methodological areas of analytics, management and leadership. Not surprisingly, the MC/MPA program includes some of the school’s most accomplished students. They represent many professional backgrounds and come from across the United States and around the world. They typically range in age from thirty to the early sixties, but HKS has also graduated a septuagenarian. Mid-Career students make valuable contributions to the school’s intellectual community during their year at Harvard.
People who really believe in diversity, as opposed to those politically correct people who are always talking about “diversity,” will see some logic here. Academia is often stiflingly left/liberal and politically correct, and if there really is benefit in having different viewpoints represented, it’s conservatives who are in short supply.

Politically correct academic “diversity” hustlers, in contrast, want more blacks, Hispanics, and women in traditionally male fields, but they want them to think pretty the way they do, with the proviso that articulating racial grievances or gender grievances can be useful in intimidating people who might be inclined to argue with white male leftist professors.

Of course, affirmative action for conservatives has some of the same dangers as affirmative action for (say) blacks. Will people come to assume that conservatives in academic settings are not as well-qualified as liberals and leftists, just as they now assume that blacks in academic settings are not as qualified as whites? That’s a real danger, but of course it’s a danger that liberals and leftists blow off then applied to their favorite beneficiaries.

Perhaps this is simply a rather benign form of affirmative action, an attempt to let quite well-qualified conservatives know that they are welcome to apply. There are indeed plenty of well-qualified conservative policy wonks -- on congressional staffs, in conservative think tanks and interest groups, and even a few in academia (especially in economics departments). If they are welcome at the JFK school, that’s good. There is a clear tendency (which we have seen in our own students) for conservatives to self-select out of academia, which they view (rightly) as hostile territory. If the JFK school wants to appear less hostile, good for them.

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Blogger jimspice said...

"...(P)eople ... assume that blacks in academic settings are not as qualified as whites."

Really? All people? Or, pray tell, which ones?

1:07 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Really? All people? Or, pray tell, which ones?

Pretty much everybody, including liberals who are big proponents of affirmative action.

They see affirmative action as a good thing, but they don't kid themselves about what it involves.

There are limits to the ability of people to engage in Orwellian doublething. It's hard to hire or admit a black in preference to a better-qualified white, and they magically forget that you have done that.

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, John, since it appears from your comment that you assume blacks in academic settings are not as qualified as whites, let me ask you a more pointed question for the sake of clarification:

Do YOU assume that, in general, blacks in the political science departments (in research institutions in, say, the US and Canada) are less qualified to be doing research at those institutions than whites?

And while you're at it, how about women in your field?

6:07 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Do YOU assume that, in general, blacks in the political science departments (in research institutions in, say, the US and Canada) are less qualified to be doing research at those institutions than whites?

In general, yes. The demands for "affirmative action" preferences and quotas means that a black political scientist can get a job at a "better" institution than a white with identical qualifications -- and probably better pay.

Do you deny this?

You sound like the type who wants to discriminate against whites to hire blacks.

Why are you pretending that it doesn't have the exact consequences I stated?

With regard to women:

I've seen discrimination against men in academia, but in general women perform as well as men at all academic levels.

9:22 PM  
Blogger jimspice said...

Does this apply across disciplines, so that you would believe that blacks in, say, medicine are less qualified? And if that were true, wouldn't that suggest that black doctors are less qualified than white doctors? And consequently, can we assume you would feel more comfortable being operated on by a white, and therefore better qualified, doctor?

11:01 PM  
Blogger jimspice said...

I'll take 13 months of silence as a resounding "YES!"

4:44 PM  

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