American higher education is a house divided

In their scalding 2007 book “Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case,” Stuart Taylor Jr. and KC Johnson plausibly argue that Duke’s disgrace — a fictional rape; hysterical academics trashing due process — was driven by the faculty Group of 88. Signatories of its manifesto included “only two professors in math, just one in the hard sciences, and zero in law. . . . More than 84 percent described their research interests as related to race, class or gender (or all three). The Group of 88 was disproportionately concentrated in the humanities and some social science departments. Fully 80 percent of the African-American studies faculty members signed the statement, followed by women’s studies (72.2 percent) and cultural anthropology (60 percent).”

Higher education is increasingly a house divided. In the sciences and even the humanities, actual scholars maintain the high standards of their noble calling. But in the humanities, especially, and elsewhere, faux scholars representing specious disciplines exploit academia as a jobs program for otherwise unemployable propagandists hostile to freedom of expression.

This is, however, a smattering of what counts as good news in today’s climate: For the first time in FIRE’s 16 years of monitoring academia’s authoritarianism, fewer than half (49.3 percent) of American universities still have what FIRE considers egregiously unconstitutional speech policies. Purdue is one of six universities that eliminated speech codes this year, and one of just 22 with FIRE’s “green light” rating.