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Virginia Postrel

Imagine If Conservatives in Academia Could Safely 'Come Out'

The academy needs them, so its progressive majority should stop silencing the dissidents.
"And to your right you'll see our token conservative...."

"And to your right you'll see our token conservative...."

Photographer: Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg

A few days after the 2004 election, Gabriel Rossman went for a job interview with the UCLA sociology department. Rossman was finishing a doctorate at Princeton, and his research on how ownership affects mass-media content was a good fit for a school in the entertainment capital. He got the job as an assistant professor.

But he also got a warning about academic culture. At a dinner following his day on campus, two of his future colleagues started ranting about George W. Bush’s re-election. One called it “a referendum against the Enlightenment.” Rossman smiled and nodded, never letting on that he’d cast his ballot for Bush.