Monday, August 25, 2008

Lee Todd's fear of real diversity at the University of Kentucky

The Family Foundation of Kentucky recently challenged University of Kentucky President Lee Todd to explain why it was that, despite his rhetoric about "diversity," there seemed to be little or no ideological diversity in some of its own departments--little diversity, but plenty of political activism going on at taxpayer and student expense.

In a recent Kentucky Kernel article, President Todd responded to our challenge by appealing to "academic freedom." "Free and open inquiry," said Todd, "is at the very heart of what institutions of higher learning are supposed to do ... We shouldn't attempt to regulate such inquiry."

Where does President Todd get the idea that real diversity and academic freedom are at odds? And why, when he and his university spend so much time talking about diversity, is there so little of it among the faculty on his own campus?

We called on the Gender and Women's Studies department to produce just one scholar on its allegedly diverse staff who deviates from the left-wing political orthodoxy that predominates in the department. The first response from the department was a tirade from Prof. Ellen Riggle, the associate director of the program, in which she portrayed our call for a demonstration of diversity an "attack on education in general."

How can someone who claims to support diversity say at the same time that calls for demonstrating diversity are an "attack on education"? We thought diversity was supposed to be good for education.

We pointed out how the department's own website proudly boasted of a number of professors in the department who were involved in left-liberal groups such as the pro-abortion Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and the pro-gay rights "Fairness" Alliance, but could cite none who had affiliations with similar conservative groups.

Why was it, we asked, that all of the political activism among UK faculty seemed to be in one direction?

Once again, the response from faculty members was an angry rebuke against anyone who questioned the liberal party line. Dr. Melanie Otis was so upset with our challenge that she called it "targeting all faculties engaged in the scholarship that contributes to the elimination of social justice."

In other words, Otis seems to suggest, real diversity is a threat to her political agenda.

Why is it that those who talk so much about diversity get so upset when you ask them to demonstrate it themselves? Why are they so scared of the very thing they claim to support?

Kentucky taxpayers need to know that their tax dollars will not be spent on indoctrinating students in one set of political beliefs, and UK students deserve more than be presented with only one viewpoint on matters as important as family and gender.

In another recent article on this controversy in the Lexington Herald-Leader, former director of the Women's Studies program Dr. Joan Callahan characterized our call for diversity as "McCarthyism." But last time we looked in our history books, "McCarthyism" was a reference to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, whose rantings resulted in people not being hired because of their political beliefs--a process called "blackballing."

In other words, Dr. Callahan, while characterizing calls for diversity as "McCarthyism," was defending a department which appears to be doing exactly what the real McCarthy actually did: exclude people whose political beliefs deviate from the prevailing political dogmas.

In fact, we thought it was instructive that the only faculty members the Kernel could find to comment on our challenge to the department were left-wing professors. The Gender and Women's Studies program isn't filled with left-wing political activists, they seem to be saying, and the program has plenty of left-wing political activists willing to say so.

It sort of proves our point, doesn't it?


Anonymous said...

Can you provide a list of "conservatives" that applied for positions in these departments at UK and were not hired?

Anonymous said...

Heck, I still wanna see hard numbers for the state funds allegedly being used as Martin claims.

The Family Foundation seems to be extremely fond of making things up.

Martin Cothran said...


You seem to be under the impression that I said there were conservatives who had applied to the Gender and Women's Studies program who were subsequently not hired. What I said was that there were no conservatives in the department and that this was the case because they are unwelcome there.

In what way do either of these contentions require that conservatives have applied and been refused?

Martin Cothran said...


I'm assuming you are referring to the domestic partner benefits debate, in which case, I am wondering what it is about "UK said they were going to subsidize the benefits" (which I have said repeatedly) that you are not understanding. Have you read the 2007 report UK put out on this issue where they stated point blank that is what they were going to do? Were you around when U of L got caught red-handed subsidizing benefits they James Ramsey said they weren't subsidizing?

How many times are you going to keep repeating that I have not produced evidence for this when I have numerous times?

Nevermind. I think I know the answer to the question.

Anonymous said...

I didn't say and am not under the impression that you said someone had applied and was not hired.

I submit that your complaints really don't mean anything if you do not have evidence that conservatives even bothered to apply for the positions. If there is no evidence such people exist and actually want the professorships, then how could the departments possibly be at fault for not hiring them? Post some rejection letters.

Martin Cothran said...


Why would a conservative apply to a department that says that its scholarship must come from a feminist perspective?

Anonymous said...

Um, Martin, in this case I'm referring to your claims that UK is spending state funds on "indoctrination".

You're just making this up. As when you whine about tax dollars spent on the difference between single and family health insurance plans for UK employees.

Martin Cothran said...


If you take a course in the Gender and Women's Studies program, are you going to get a balanced view of any subject relating to women or gender?

Anonymous said...

anon: I submit that your complaints really don't mean anything if you do not have evidence that conservatives even bothered to apply for the positions.

A couple of months ago Ben Wattenberg (sp?) had a guest on Think Tank who said the smartest minds (young conservatives of course) were all joining Washington DC think tanks and had no interest in joining The Academy.
[I can't find transcript or recall guest.]


Anonymous said...

Martin, to answer your latest question, I have seen no indications to suggest otherwise. Perhaps you can point specific syllabi or portions thereof that would make me change my mind.

(Of course, I'm pretty sure that you are completely ignorant of any of the courses taught in GWS or elsewhere on campus - in other words, you're just makin' stuff up again.)

Also, I would point out that the statement "UK students deserve more than be presented with only one viewpoint on matters as important as family and gender" amounts to a massive misrepresentation of what UK offers. I suspect that this is because, as is SOP for TFF, the accusers have really done no research into the matter.

For other readers here, any bets as to whether Martin et al. ever offer any corrections or apologies for their appreciable blunders?

(Of course, maybe we'd better wait until our hapless governor gets his pro-gambling act together, no?)