though, is that the presence of evennone fellow dissident produced nearlynunanimous nonconformity. Which isnwhy the NAS meeting was such anheady experience: it was downrightnexhilarating to be in a room with a fewnhundred others who also know whichnline is longest.nIt’s hard to overstate the politicalnlopsidedness of American college facultiesnthese days. I think it was ThomasnSowell who said that the ideologicalnspectrum usually ranges from left to farnleft. Those with views outside thatnrange are likely to spend their workingnlives subjected to relendess academicngroupthink, usually not so much consciousnharassment as just the constantnweight of assumption.nIncidentally, the bad guys in thisnbusiness are not, for the most part, thenformer student radicals of the 1960’s.nThose of us who still bear grudgesnfrom those days may like to think theynare, but we need to be reminded thatnthe 60’s are now as long past as then30’s were then. It’s sobering to realizenthat our students see the days of thenFree Speech Movement as either anmythical era when giants walked thenearth or an irrelevant past that tiresomenold fogeys get nostalgic about — eithernway, an epoch now lost in the mists ofntime. Sure, some of our old adversariesnhave now completed their LongnMarch through the institutions andnemerged as tenured wannabe thoughtcontrollers.nThey’re doing their best toninsure that, a generation from now,nscholars who don’t share their opinionsnwill be found only in disciplines likenpoultry science or in colleges namednfor living evangelists. They’re a problem:nin particular, they put others’ncommitment to a depoliticized academynto the test, because it’s hard not tonwant to purge people who would gladlynpurge you. But, outside a few departmentsnhere and there, they’re not thenimmediate problem.nThat comes from a much morennumerous and influential party of wellintentionednsouls who practice whatnone speaker at the NAS meetingncalled, after Veblen, “conspicuous benevolence,”nsupporting programs andnpolicies that demonstrate good will andnpolitical correctness, almost withoutnregard for any other consequences. Tonthose of us who can see which line isnlongest, for example, it’s perfectly obvi­nous that quota systems undermine thenself-confidence of their supposed beneficiariesnand breed cynicism and resentmentnin others. That argumentnneeds to be made (probably in annaccent other than mine), but it will notnmove someone who is determined tonshow that he cares, that he is notn”mean-spirited.” One speaker at thenmeeting confessed that this kind ofnamorphous mush almost makes himnnostalgic for the old-timey academicnMarxists, most of whom at least hadnsome sense of intellectual rigor andnbelieved there are more importantnquestions than whether people feelngood about themselves.nAnyway, maybe — just maybe — thentide is turning. Let me tell a story.nTen or twelve years ago, my departmentnchairman got a questionnairenfrom something called the Gay andnLesbian Task Force of the AmericannSociological Association, asking 1) hownmany members of our departmentnwere openly gay or lesbian and activenin gay and lesbian causes, 2) how manynwere gay or lesbian, but not politicallynactive, and 3) how many he thoughtnmight be gay or lesbian. (My colleague,na brilliant statistician and demographer,nis a Brahmin from Kerala who takes anrather detached view of American academicnpolitics. He photocopied thenquestionnaire and sent it around, essentiallynasking us to volunteer.)nThe NAS meeting reminded me ofnthat episode. Deviants of the sort thenNAS speaks for are also a vastly outnumberednand sometimes persecutednminority, although I wouldn’t want tonpush the analogy too far. (Nobody’snsuggested quotas for us yet — and Inhope nobody does, because I’d bentempted.) We, too, come in varyingndegrees of outspokenness. Not manynare willing, at least not yet, to be activenin an organization like the NAS. Butnthere are more who make litde secretnof sharing our views. They may notnfeel as strongly about them, or theynmay feel they have better things to donthan fight for lost causes (I often feelnthat way myself), but their mere existencenmakes an important contribution,nas the Asch experiment suggests.nIt may be wishful thinking, but I believenthere are more such witnessesnthan there were a decade ago. Ironically,nthe politicization of our campusesnmay have brought this about. Peoplenwho constantly ask “Which side arenyou on?” are sometimes going to getnan answer they don’t want.nPerhaps even more encouraging arenwhat I take to be signs that a growingnnumber of our colleagues think straightnin private. They really know which linenis longest, in other words, but aren’t yetnready to be disagreeable about it.nThose of us who are ready, and willing,nhave all had colleagues sidle up tonus, glance furtively about, and whispernthat we’re right about something. Mynfavorite example is the friend who toldnme in 1984 that he was going to votenRepublican—but asked me not to tellnhis wife. I’ve even had a few colleaguesntell me that they read Chronicles. Youncan bet they get their subscriptions atnhome, not at the office, but it’s a start.nWhen you’re ready to come out ofnthe closet, fellows, you can join thenNAS for $30.00 a year ($15.00 forngraduate students). The address isnSuite 250 East, 20 Nassau Street,nPrinceton, N.J. 08542. Nonacademicnsympathizers and curiosity-seekers cannsubscribe to Academic Questions fornthe same price.nJohn Shelton Reed’s latest book,nWhistling Dixie: Dispatches from thenSouth, out soon from the Universitynof Missouri Press, has annintroduction by Eugene D. Genovese,nan old-timey Marxist.nMOVING?nvy-nLET US KNOW BEFORE YOU GO!nTo assure uninterrupted delivery ofnChronicles, please notify us in advance.nSend change of address onnthis form with the mailing label fromnyour latest issue of Chronicles to:nSubscription Department, Chronicles,nP.O. Box 800, Mount Morris, Illinoisn61054.nName .nAddress ^nCitynnnState ZipnSEPTEMBER 1990/45n