By Mitchell Langbert
Join Professor Langbert, featured speaker at QVGOP’s New Years Club Meeting on Academic Freedom!
THURS. JAN. 2, 2020 at 7:30 PM
At: Young Israel of Holliswood – Holliswood Jewish Center
86-25 Francis Lewis Blvd., Holliswood, NY 11427
CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO
I grew up in Long Island City, Queens, just south of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s district. I began my political life as a left-wing Democrat. In 1972, when I was 18, the Vietnam War was raging, and anti-war protests were the rage. However, I soon noticed that the left was more image than substance, more a matter of signaling than of achieving virtue. After I graduated from college in 1975, I read Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, took a corporate job, and watched Abraham Beame and the Democrats oversee the city’s bankruptcy, which was due to Beame’s accounting; public sector unions; Robert Moses’s urban redevelopment policies; and a decades-long commitment to taxes, regulation and welfare.
Because of the exodus of corporate headquarters from New York, in 1986 I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in my field, human resources. The instruction I received at Columbia Business School was first-rate, but when I entered the professional academic world at a university in New York’s North Country, I realized that the march to the left had progressed past the point of no return. Left-wing feminist professors, often based in “studies” programs (gender studies, ethnic studies), routinely harassed untenured, conservative professors. A glance across a hallway was a reason for a formal sexual harassment complaint. Professors who questioned preferential policies were subject to “investigation” by the college’s human resource department. Professors who questioned the official, left-wing narrative were subject to whispering-and-defamation campaigns.
Because of political harassment, I left the North Country after two-and-a-half years, and after two brief stints at New York-area colleges I began a career at Brooklyn College in 1998. During the ensuing 21 years I suffered a number of left-wing attacks, including a demand that I resign from a departmental personnel committee because I insisted that job candidates have credentials relevant to the department’s field (business administration) rather than just have racial or gender credentials; a formal investigation because I said that slavery did not contribute to long-term American economic ascendancy (the more horrific and profitable slavery in the West Indies not having led to economic success there, for instance); and a national media campaign to fire me, led by a pro-Antifa professor, because I made light of the accusations against Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
As I have noted in a recent piece in The College Fix, the attacks against me failed, and since then my work has been covered by Lou Dobbs, the New York Post editorial page and elsewhere. Notice, though, that I have tenure, have favorable student evaluations, and have published 30 academic articles. A more recent hire would not have been likely to survive. When the New York Sun closed, the city lost the only newspaper that had paid attention to left-wing academic abuses.
Meanwhile, I developed an interest in academic reform. Together with Phil Orenstein, I campaigned for an academic bill of rights in the early 2000s, and I began to pursue research on education.
My recent research concerns faculty political affiliations. The origins of left-only universities can be traced to two early twentieth century foundations: the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Rockefeller’s General Education Board. These foundations provided financial incentives to secularize universities, and the New Deal, which used universities as left-oriented ideological-mediating institutions, cemented the incentives. Subsequently, Democrats and RINOs have provided ongoing moral and financial support to academic groupthink. At present, virtually no Republican donors work as professors in the four leading universities in 30 states that I have recently sampled.
Things are far gone in both higher and K-12 education, but the Department of Education, even under our beloved president, has not done enough to systematically study how far. I am asking Republicans to pressure Betsy DeVos and elected officials to begin to study what can be done. So far, the DOE under Secretary DeVos has implemented Title IX reform, but little more.
Mitchell Langbert is an Associate Professor of Business at Brooklyn College. His research recently has focused on political affiliations of professors and executives. His Blog features insights into politics, current events, the economy and higher education.