The Soft Bigotry of Conservative Expectations

17 Sep

Jonah Goldberg makes note of a conservative/libertarian blogging contest for college students (for which he is a judge) sponsored by America’s Future Foundation. If you win, you get $10,000, as determined by a panel of notable right-leaning/libertarian bloggers. This is from the press release:

– Jonathan Adler of The Volokh Consipracy
– Radley Balko of The Agitator
– Robert Bluey of The Heritage Foundation and
– Jonah Goldberg of National Review Online
– Mary Katharine Ham of
– Megan McArdle of

To enter, and for the complete set of rules, college bloggers canvisit There bloggers can enter their site for consideration. The deadline for entries is December 31, 2007. From the entries, AFF will choose ten finalists. The panel of seven judges will then track the blogs between January and April and will then choose a winner.

So far, so good. Seems like a nice little contest, if your political sympathies align with America’s Freedom Foundation, you have a blog, and are enrolled in college. But then AFF had to go and include this:

“The best college bloggers can influence their campuses in two ways,” said America’s Future Foundation executive director David Kirby. “First, college bloggers can communicate the philosophy of liberty and the economics of free markets to fellow students—ideas rarely taught by their professors. And, second, bloggers can give an inside scoop to trustees and alumni on campus controversies.”

This has the whiff of Horowitzism about it, and it’s one of the more annoying–and poorly supported–canards of the culture war. To say that “the economics of free markets” is rarely taught by professors, flies in the face of a dramatic rise in the number of economics majors in American colleges and universities, unless Kirby thinks most of them are now trained Marxists with Wall Street jobs. Also, I’d like to see examples of professors arguing against liberty without immediately falling into a protracted debate about the welfare state and how taxes are form of state coercion. Everyone is rhetorically “for liberty” so Kirby’s definition does no more than beg the question; libertarians are often concerned with negative liberty while liberals focus on positive liberty.  To suggest that left-leaning faculty are “against liberty” (or unlikely to promote it) is to sidestep the debate altogether.

The second suggestion, that bloggers can give the “inside scoop on campus controversies” seems likely to devolve into a series of “gotcha moments” where conservative student bloggers complain about what crazy leftist comment their pinko Lit Theory professor made today.  If Tufts is any indication, there are plenty of campus produced journals and newspapers that are offering conservative opinion and following campus controversies.  Fair-minded but partisan reporting is much harder than is often acknowledged, and I’m not very confident in the ability of hundreds of New Media freshman (or an army of Davids, if you will)–conservative or liberal–to pull it off without being merely tendentious.


2 Responses to “The Soft Bigotry of Conservative Expectations”

  1. Quixote September 19, 2007 at 11:52 pm #

    I’m a libertarian-socialist (to use the old anarchist jargon), you think I have a chance of winning?


  1. Liberal vs Conservative Youth « Matt Zeitlin: Impetuous Young Whippersnapper - September 17, 2007

    […] by Matt Zeitlin on September 17th, 2007 From Megan McArlde and Pax Americana comes news of the America’s Future Foundation’s college blogger contest.  The judges […]

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