Shortly after the sudden and unexpected passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia there began a series of efforts aimed at honoring the long serving justice’s life and contributions to our legal system. Quickly bubbling to the top of the list was the idea of renaming the George Mason University School of Law in his honor. While it was likely a winning idea on its own, the proposition was no doubt boosted by the promise of $30M in contributions, with $10M of it coming from Charles Koch. Unfortunately, George Mason has a significant liberal contingent in their faculty and the combination of the names of Scalia and Koch was enough to put many of them off their feed. In fact, the Faculty Senate at the university has put forward a resolution expressing their displeasure over the honor being paid to Scalia. This week, George Mason economics professor Walter E. Williams shares some of his thoughts on the plight of these left wing academics and why they need to move past their discomfort. (Lubbock Online)
Williams – a long time friend of Charles Koch and an economic conservative – pulls no punches with the left leaning professors at his school.
Justice Antonin Scalia had a reputation on the court and in his written opinions as a person who revered the U.S. Constitution and the limits it places on the federal government. Many of my George Mason University colleagues have contempt for the U.S. Constitution and the limitations it sought to impose on the federal government.
These are people who believe that it’s OK for the U.S. Congress to forcibly use one American to serve the purposes of another American. That means people, such as Scalia, who respect the Constitution are a despised minority.
After describing the “panty-bunching” effect these dreaded names have had on the liberals, Williams clarifies what the chief liberal complaints are and why they amount to – in his own words – “hogwash.”
They charge the justice with being “a significant contributor to the polarized climate in this country that runs counter to the values of a university that celebrates civil discourse.” That’s nonsense, but I wonder whether they will make the same charge if there comes a time to name a building or program after President Barack Obama, whom the Gallup Poll listed as one of the most polarizing presidents in U.S. history.
Another part of the faculty senate’s resolution claims that naming the law school in honor of Scalia will lead to “reinforcement of the external branding of the university as a conservative institution rather than an unaligned body that is a comfortable home for individuals with a variety of viewpoints.”
This is hogwash! Liberals have a stranglehold on most universities in the country. Survey after survey has shown that up to 90-plus percent of faculty political contributions have gone to Democrats. I would bet the rent money that at least 80 percent or more of my GMU colleagues are registered Democrats.
It’s interesting that Professor Williams calls out “criticism” of George Mason University for having a reputation as a conservative institution. While they may have produced a couple of notable conservative icons from the law and economics schools, that doesn’t mean that the overall population of academics in residence is far off the normal bell curve of ideological leanings among the higher education class. His wager that 80% of his colleagues are Democrats would be, if accurate, a bit on the low side of the national average. A 2012 Higher Education survey found that more than 88% of professors self-identify as anywhere from left leaning moderates to “far left” in their views. Much can be discerned by simply following the money (as always) and donor reports indicate that – particularly at “liberal arts” schools – 99% of donations by professors went to Democrats and Democrat supporting entities.
Williams is far from being in the majority in that regard. He’s more of a lone voice in the liberal wilderness of higher education. So what are his liberal colleagues in the Faculty Senate really complaining about? For the most part, as in most schools, any opinion contrary to their own is not viewed as simply being from another point of view, but a danger to society. Alternate opinions are not treated as such, but rather as the embodiment of evil walking the Earth. This makes the naming of the Antonin Scalia Law School a small victory, but a socially significant one at the same time.