After liberal New York Times op-ed writer Nicholas Kristof penned his Sunday column, "A Confession of Liberal Intolerance," conservative readers reacted with delight over Kristof's breath-of-fresh-air perspective.
Liberal readers? Not so much.
"We progressives believe in diversity, and we want women, blacks, Latinos, gays and Muslims at the table," he begins his column, "er, so long as they aren’t conservatives."
From there, Kristof noted the "liberal arrogance" that says conservatives aren't intellectually equipped to teach certain disciplines at college. He also cited studies showing a third of social psychologists would discriminate against more conservative job candidates if they were as qualified as other candidates, as well as 59 percent of anthropologists and 53 percent of English professors who said they'd be less inclined to hire an evangelical.
More from Kristof's column:
Some liberals think that right-wingers self-select away from academic paths in part because they are money-grubbers who prefer more lucrative professions. But that doesn’t explain why there are conservative math professors but not many right-wing anthropologists.
It’s also liberal poppycock that there aren’t smart conservatives or evangelicals. Richard Posner is a more-or-less conservative who is the most cited legal scholar of all time. With her experience and intellect, Condoleezza Rice would enhance any political science department. Francis Collins is an evangelical Christian and famed geneticist who has led the Human Genome Project and the National Institutes of Health. And if you’re saying that conservatives may be tolerable, but evangelical Christians aren’t — well, are you really saying you would have discriminated against the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.?
"Universities should be a hubbub of the full range of political perspectives from A to Z, not just from V to Z," he concludes. "So maybe we progressives could take a brief break from attacking the other side and more broadly incorporate values that we supposedly cherish — like diversity — in our own dominions."
While Kristof's liberal readers may have been inclined to enjoy the lion's share of his columns, that didn't seem to be the case with this one.
"Is intolerance necessarily a bad thing?" one NYT commenter responded Monday. "As a liberal, I'm intolerant of many things such as human trafficking, racism, sexism, homophobia and anti-feminism. So I too, confess to being intolerant and am not ashamed of it."
A Facebook commenter wrote Monday that she "couldn't agree LESS" with Kristof's point of view:
Conservative voices in this day and age are divisive, exclusive, and often cruel. The conservative leadership espouses that crap and there is no reason we need to entertain it. The Ku Klux Klan also has a philosophy built on historical premise — should we also include their voices on campus? We do not have a quid pro quo here. Either conservative voices distance themselves from the sludge that is their leadership or they don't get a place at the table.
Another Times commenter had a blunt take: "I don't understand this thing called 'liberal arrogance'. Is it arrogant to want to address issues with fact, critical thinking, an empirical viewpoint, one that privileges data and acquisition of real world experience over faith? Liberal arrogance, seems to me, to be just a pejorative for living in the real world, and refusing to apologize for it."
As did this responder: "I suppose we might say being intolerant of intolerance is a form of intolerance, but when your whole way of thinking is built upon imposing your personal views on everyone else I think a little intolerance is in order. I will defend every person's right to believe in whatever invisible omnipotent being, political, social, and economic concept they want but when they force those ideas on others I draw the line."
One Kristof reader admitted that "it's not that conservatives aren't bright; it's that, for the most part, they are narrow-minded and are sure they have the right answers. (Think William Buckley Jr or Paul Ryan or Thomas Friedman.) Most that I know or know of don't have much exposure to the world outside their ideological strata, and not much interested in such exposure; it's part of being conservative. Who would want such narrow thinkers and true believers to be part of academia?"
Conservatives who appreciated Kristof's column very much reflected this Times reader's response:
Bravo Mr Kristof. But it's not just academia. The smug self assuredness of liberalism permeates every aspect of life in our country. Advocates of liberal causes almost always paint the opposing side as venal, stupid, racist etc. then accuse those who hold opposing views of intolerance. Shutting down dissent has a long history on the left, and the most visible example today, President Obama, sets up his straw men regularly. Civil discourse is nearly impossible today and freedom under assault. We need more voices on the left pointing out the cancer eating at the core of our society.