"Athens of the Midwest" is how many deep thinking liberals in America's heartland describe Iowa City. If they mean the Athens that forced Socrates to drink hemlock because of his unorthodox ideas, they may have a point.
By David Paulin
"Athens of the Midwest" is how many deep thinking liberals in America's heartland describe Iowa City -- the artsy and liberal college town that's home to the University of Iowa. But as many conservatives might have guessed, some of Iowa City's most self-important elites -- the powers that be in the University of Iowa's law school -- have much in common with those intolerant ancient Athenians who tried and executed Socrates because they didn't like his politics.
As Exhibit One, consider a recent court case that's been drawing belated attention over the weekend in some corners of the Internet. The issues were summed up in an editorial last month in the Des Moines Register, appropriately titled: "U of I needs to respect diversity of thought, too." Here's an excerpt:
The University of Iowa College of Law dodged a potential employment discrimination verdict in a case tried in Davenport last week. But the case could still come back to haunt the university.Well, let's be clear about one thing: such intolerance is not confined only to the legal windbags at Iowa's law faculty. As evidence, consider Exhibit Two: the experience that historian Mark Moyar, a Harvard and Cambridge grad, had during his unsuccessful application five years ago for a professorship at the University of Iowa's history department. Moyar at the time was the Kim T. Adamson Chair at the U.S. Marine Corps University and had authored respected revisionist histories of the Vietnam War. In an article in National Review, "Diversity is for Democrats" Moyar observed that Iowa's history faculty wasn't much interested in listening to ideas that contradicted their own - ideas that presumably were all the more rankling (one can assume) because they came from a conservative middle-aged white guy.
Regardless of the outcome, this case raises questions about the hiring policies at the University of Iowa College of Law, and perhaps in the university as a whole. The U of I respects the goal of diversity for race, religion and gender, but it should show the same respect for diversity of political thought.
This case involves a lawsuit filed by Teresa Wagner against the law school after she was turned down for a faculty position in the legal analysis, writing and research program. Wagner is a Republican who has worked for anti-abortion organizations. She alleged that she was passed over the position not because she lacked the qualifications but because she was blackballed by liberal members of the law school faculty.
The law school denied politics were involved in the decision not to hire her. The university claimed Wagner was turned down because she had performed poorly in an interview.
After a weeklong trial, the jury ruled in favor of the school on the allegation that Wagner's political beliefs were a "motivating factor" in her rejection. But the jury of 12 deadlocked on a separate question whether Wagner was treated differently than other job applicants because of her political beliefs. If the school did that, that would violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.
It's possible these questions will be rehashed in court as Wagner has asked for a new trial. U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt will rule on that later.
The University of Iowa College of Law
To create greater diversity of ideas, Moyar offered this advice:
Students, parents, alumni, taxpayers, and politicians should pressure the University of Iowa's administration to enforce the university's non-discrimination policies, and to create new faculty positions for conservatives beyond the reach of other professors' tentacles, as other schools have started doing. They should demand that the university use its lecture series to bring in conservative speakers, not just liberals and radicals. In the meantime, students must realize that the university is not a free market of ideas, but a one-party state that strives to convert the impressionable and unwary by hiding half of the political spectrum.Regarding Iowa Law: In one respect, it's ironic that its faculty members are overwhelmingly liberal and, by inference, Obama fans. Because in the miserable economy that Obama owns, less-than-top-tier law schools like Iowa's don't cut it anymore. To be sure, I know one grad of Iowa Law, a former next-door neighbor and occasional boyhood chum, who became a successful corporate lawyer and partner in a prestigious firm. Today he's a judge in Iowa. And a high school classmate from Illinois who graduated from Iowa Law is now a partner in a top Chicago firm. Lucky for them, they graduated from Iowa Law in the 1980s - during the go-go economy of President Ronald Reagan.
Unfortunately, the days are gone when nearly all top and grads of Iowa Law reached such stellar heights. And disgruntled recent grads are, increasingly, finding that out the hard way. That's reflected in a blog called "third tier reality." It warns potential Iowa Law students to stay away - unless somebody else pays for their exorbitant tuition and, most importantly, that they have a job lined up through the help of friends or family connections. Or maybe, I might add, if they know Obama.
Ironic, isn't it? Iowa's law faculty and the political and economic ideology they embrace (and political leaders they support) may be the cause of their own irrelevance.
Full disclosure: Back in my younger and more vulnerable college days, when I was a Democratic, I took a class in "international law" at the University of Iowa College of Law. Despite my political immaturity and open-mindedness, I was nevertheless troubled by my professor's high-minded talk about how a U.N.-like body would ensure world peace and social justice - even though thug states would, in the professor's vision, have as much say as Western democracies in that body. Raising my concerns, the white-haired prof, Burns H. Weston, seemed peeved and snapped: "So what? What's your point?" And then there were Prof. Weston's idiotic discussions about terrorism, the implication being that one man's terrorist was another man's freedom fighter; that if we were a victim of terrorism, it must be because of something that we did to them.
Nor did I ever quite understand that lecture about the "sources" of international law. According to him, they included the scholarly writings of law professors, including himself. "Can I make international law?" he asked with a big smile and twinkling eyes - and of course the answer was supposed to be "yes."
Not long ago, I learned that this left-wing blowhard -- the son of an official in FDR's administration -- was a 9/11 "truther" whose members believe that the Bush administration had some complicity in 9/11 and its "cover-up." It was all a pretext to go to war.
Well, I'm really not surprised given the ideological indoctrination that took place that class, which included no diversity of ideas that might have been taught by allowing a visiting speaker into the class -- one like, say, John Bolton, the former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. under George W. Bush.
Hey, Iowa Law, can I get my tuition back for that course?"
Hat tip: TaxProf Blog and Memeorandum
Originally published at American Thinker blog, albeit with some minor additions due to a few other things that came to mind.