Profile picture
Noah Smith @Noahpinion
, 23 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
1/This is a good question. Let me see if I can try to answer it.

2/I have spent 12 years of my adult life - i.e., most of it - on college campuses. As an undergrad, grad, and prof.

I have never ONCE encountered the kind of intolerant leftist stuff that you read about in The Federalist and The Daily Caller.

Not one time.
3/Does that mean that stuff doesn't exist?

Of course it exists.

We all saw the Evergreen State videos:

We've all read about the Reed College protests:…
4/But any behavioral economist knows about the Availability Heuristic:…

If you see reports of something 2 or 3 times, you tend to think it's everywhere.

Sometimes it *is* everywhere. But sometimes it's actually rare.
5/I've met countless lefty kids and lefty professors in my life. They are overwhelmingly the norm.

Yet I've never seen the intolerant, aggressive SJW stuff.

I have to ask: How big of a problem is this stuff really? How common is it really?
6/We have evidence that professors lean strongly to the left:…

But this doesn't mean they're activists. My physics profs would sit around cursing the Bush administration. But so what?
7/More importantly, we have evidence that professors are a politically MODERATING influence, and that when students are radicalized, they radicalize each other:…
8/Here's more evidence:…

The idea that leftist activist faculty are indoctrinating students to become radical lefties is just NOT supported by data.
9/And notice that all the scare stories you read about in the media, including Evergreen State and Reed College, are stories about STUDENT activists attacking their moderate-lefty professors.

Not about extremist professors leading the charge.
10/OK, so let's talk about student activists.

Student activists are a consistent, repeating phenomenon throughout all of modern history.…
11/When I was a college kid, students protested for higher wages for janitors. They protested the WTO. They protested the shooting of Amadou Diallo. They protested the Iraq War.
12/Protesting stuff is what college students DO.

It is what they have always done, and what they will always do.

What are college kids rebelling against? The answer, as always, is "Whaddya got?"

13/Did we shut universities down when students rioted in the 1960s?…

No, we did not.
14/So as I see it, we have:

A) left-leaning profs that do not indoctrinate students, and even act as a moderating influence, and

B) students who protest stuff, just like students always have and always will.

Is this cause for national outrage?

15/Now, I respect @JonHaidt's campaign for more ideological diversity in the social sciences. Get some conservative viewpoints in there, go ahead! Intellectual monoculture is boring. Have some real debates!
16/And sure, I do turn up my nose at the sociologists (and the increasingly small # of economists) who think political activism and scientific inquiry go well together. They don't. Objectivity is important.
17/But let's not kid ourselves.

Throwing a few conservative profs in front of a bunch of lefty activist kids will do precisely nothing to stop them from protesting stuff.

There were lots more conservative profs in the 60s, and students rioted plenty.
18/How do you stop students from doing lefty SJW activism?

Simple answer: You don't.

You simply put rules in place to prevent protests from becoming violent or overly disruptive, and then you go on with life, and everything's fine.

Just like in the 60s.
19/And meanwhile, let's not fall victim to the Availability Heuristic.

Outrage over lefty campus protests is an intentional distraction from the real, important bad things being done (and being attempted) by the Trump Administration.
20/Right-wing media outlets like the Daily Caller, Breitbart, etc. are trying to find something that's viscerally scary to conservatives, and shove in their face in order to distract them from the damage that Trump is doing to the country.
21/Just like antifa provided a bogeyman that let right-wing media do the "both sides" defense when murderous Nazis rampaged in the streets of Virginia, campus protests provides a bogeyman that lets right-wing media distract from and excuse Trumpism.
22/Remember: There are always a handful of people out there doing any stupid, crazy, or annoying thing you can imagine.

And the media has an incentive to find those people and shove their excesses in your face.

In this case, the reason is partisan.
23/So to answer @primalpoly's question: I just think this issue is overblown, and a distraction from more important things.

Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to Noah Smith
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member and get exclusive features!

Premium member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year)

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!