Letter to the Editor

Thoughtful people can disagree

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

To the editor:

A recent letter dealt with the assertion by columnist George Will that academia is predominantly liberal. If we apply critical thinking to the matter, which the letter writer advocated, we can come up with a more rational view.

First how do know that a majority of the faculties of colleges and universities across the nation are liberal? There are many polls of faculty members in which 90 percent or more describe themselves as liberal. Voter registration records indicate the same distribution between Democrat and Republican voters in academia. There is data showing this has been the case for more than a generation. Here we have a segment of the population with a distribution totally at odds with the population as a whole. There is no other group that shows such a great disparity. Is it because those in higher education have a corner on intelligence, logic, wisdom? I doubt if they can provide any hard data to prove it. Is it possible that there might be another mechanism at work here -- something like peer pressure, petty politics or bias? Unthinkable.

The problem is that it is much easier to hurl epithets at the opposition than to grapple with valid differences of opinion. No matter where we live or what we do, almost half the people around us hold different political views than we do. A majority of them are thoughtful adults who arrive at a different conclusion than we do. It is intellectually lazy to ignore this.

JOHN FOLWELL, Cape Girardeau