Michael Bérubé (1961–) from “Higher Education and American Liberalism,” Public Access (1994)
To this point I’ve addressed only those people who could conceivably be persuaded that the PC attack on American academe has been conducted in a fundamentally unethical manner; that it has created a toxic climate in which it is impossible to call unproblematically for “debate” with conservatives on higher education and the public sphere; and that it is intimately tied to broader attacks on leftists, liberals and moderates in the culture at large. Many of my readers will not need convincing on any of these counts. But others, I trust, may be inclined to believe, with John Searle, that “long-term assaults on the integrity of the intellectual enterprise” have been more likely to come from inside the universities themselves than from conservative newsweeklies and Washington think tanks.1 It is difficult for academics to remember, moreover, that for a larger constituency spanning the cultural spectrum from Dittoheads to Deadheads to department heads, the Cheney-D’Souza attacks are nothing more than the just desserts of stuffed-shirt professors, snooty intellectuals and Lexus-driving Marxists who had it coming anyway. And if the attacks play a little fast and loose with the record, hell, that’s politics. Grow up.
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- 1.John Searle, “The Storm over the University,” in Debating P.C.: The Controversy over Political Correctness on College Campuses, ed., Paul Berman (New York: Dell, 1992), p. 87.Google Scholar
- 2.See Paul Lauter, “‘Political Correctness’ and the Attack on American Colleges,” in Higher Education under Fire: Politics, Economics, and the Crisis of the Humanities, ed., Michael Bésrubés and Cary Nelson (New York: Routledge, 1994).Google Scholar
- 3.The hard right resists such characterizations of itself, but is finding it increasingly enjoyable— and politically profitable—to indulge its fascist fringe. For an amazingly forthright defense of anti-gay discrimination on the grounds that it prevents “waverers” from becoming gay, see E. L. Pattullo’s “Straight Talk about Gays,” Commentary, 94, No. 6 (1992), pp. 21–24Google Scholar