One of the dangers of a culture where one political viewpoint is consistently portrayed positively while the other side is regularly depicted negatively is that one side believes they are justified in denying their opponents the basic American right of free speech. This is what is taking place in our country today.
Our mass media news outlets are dominated by those who believe in liberal political philosophies. Whenever there is a public discussion on current events, the liberal viewpoint is promoted, explained, justified, and supported by those who represent themselves as “fair” journalists. Meanwhile, they critique and covertly condemn the conservative viewpoint. Liberals are portrayed as heroic while conservatives are often labeled as “controversial.”
Our entertainment industry is nearly completely controlled by the liberal perspective. When was the last time you saw someone holding conservative beliefs portrayed in a positive light in movies, television, music, or literature? To be called a Republican or a conservative is often a punchline. Business is often portrayed negatively while big government is given a free pass. Celebrities who promote liberal beliefs are rarely challenged while those few who are conservative must often defend their viewpoints. Nearly all late-night hosts have gained positive media attention by either attacking a conservative or strongly supporting a liberal cause.
But, worst of all, is the current state of academia. How often have we seen universities denying conservatives the opportunity to speak on its campuses? When the annual list of commencement speakers comes out every year it is dominated by those promoting liberal viewpoints.
Study after study has found that professors are overwhelmingly liberal and that many conservative professors are afraid to state their opinion as they believe it will hurt their careers. While liberal professors are promoted, conservative professors are harassed and discriminated against in the hiring process.
While many professors are afraid to speak out against this bias, a few have stood up and have fought back. The latest is the University of Washington atmospheric sciences Professor Cliff Mass. While Mass wouldn’t consider himself conservative, he did find himself on the other side of the approved talking points.
In a long, but well-written blog post, Professor Mass details his recent struggles with the dominant liberal mindset in academia generally, and at the UW specifically. At the conclusion, he asks for assistance. Those of us at ShiftWA strongly encourage you to take 10-15 minutes to read the post, and if you are inclined, take a few minutes to show your support for academic free speech.
In his post, Mass describes his academic work environment and how he was actually been labeled a “racist” by fellow professors and by students because he did not support I-1631 (Governor Inslee’s carbon tax initiative that appeared on the 2018 general election ballot and was soundly defeated 56.6% – 43.4% by Washington voters). By the standards those fellow professors and students had for Mass, 56% of Washingtonians must also be racist.
While the Chair of the atmospheric department encouraged the academic staff to sign onto a public letter supporting I-1631, Mass wrote a piece on HIS OWN BLOG critical of the initiative.
Because he provided a non-conforming viewpoint, a department-wide meeting was called where Mass was condemned in a manner straight from the McCarthy era. Students yelled at him, he was called a racist (because he used the image of pigs at a trough to describe those who would benefit from the initiative’s revenue) and he was reprimanded for expressing his opinion. One of the greatest hypocrisies that Mass describes is that while his department chair — who has great influence over salary, tenure, and advancement — was allowed to promote his support for I-1631 and assist the pro campaign on UW time, Mass was condemned for providing his anti I-1631 viewpoint on his own blog that is not supported by the University.
One of the most telling paragraphs from Mass’ recent blog post is this one where he rightfully compares today’s academic environment with another time in American history.
“One of the most shameful incidents in the distinguished history of the UW was the red scare of the 1950s, when several UW faculty were fired or shamed because they were accused of having communist sympathies. Some saved themselves by signing a loyalty oath. Today, UW College of the Environment leadership appears to be following the 1950s playbook, attempting to shame and sanction folks with different viewpoints, particularly on highly political issues. Instead of a loyalty oath, there is my department chair’s letter in support of 1631. Many folks are terribly disturbed by President’s Trump’s plans to “build a wall” but they are happy to build intellectual or procedural walls to keep out viewpoints they disagree with. Tyranny can come from either the right or left. Both are bad.”
Again, we encourage you to decide for yourself and read Mass’ account on his blog. It will hopefully inspire you to join the many people who standing with Professor Mass and his fight for 1st Amendment rights in our colleges and universities.
We are at a critical juncture. We must support alternative viewpoints and free speech on college campuses or they may be lost forever.