So I've started my Junior year of college this semester, going to a major public university, the University of Louisville, for the first time. (I have previously gone to community college and satellite campuses on military bases.) I was in the book store today, looking for On the Social Contract by Rousseau, which I need for my Modern Political Thought class, when I saw a display of books by or about some of the candidates for president in the 2008 election. Now, I've read commentary for a long time about the alleged liberal bias in American universities, but I've never actually experienced such bias myself. Until today. I was so stricken by the content of this book display that I took some pictures with my cell phone. Have a look at these:
These are a bit hard to make out, so on one side we have: The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama; Grand Illusion, which attacks Giuliani's record after 9/11; Living History by Hillary Rodham-Clinton; A Woman in Charge about HRC; Winning the Future by Newt Gingrich, who isn't running, by the way; Four Trials by John Edwards and Character is Destiny, a collection of short stories gathered by John McCain. On the other side, we have: A Mormon in the White House?, which is, admittedly, a slobbering defense of Romney; Between Worlds by Bill Richardson, Her Way, an unauthorized but mostly sympathetic biography of HRC; It Takes a Village by HRC; Dreams from my Father by Barack Obama and finally, Leadership by Rudy Giuliani.
So where does that leave us? Out of thirteen books total, we have six books actually written by Democratic presidential candidates, two books about HRC, and one book attacking a Republican candidate. That's nine out of thirteen, almost 70%, of the campus book store's "On the Candidates" series for the Democrats (including one that's just attacking a Republican). On the other hand, we have two books written by actual Republican presidential candidates (and of course, they couldn't put Leadership on there without having Grand Illusion on the other side. Not that I'm a fan of Giuliani, but still.), one book by a Republican who isn't running for president, and one book defending a Republican presidential candidate.
Now, maybe this isn't evidence of liberal bias on campus. Maybe it just means that the Republicans on campus have better things to do than read books by/about presidential candidates. You know, stuff like studying, working, or maybe doing shots of whiskey out of a stripper's navel. But take this into context with the actual school books required for some of the classes. I recall seeing a book by leftist icon Mumia Abu Jamal, many books on the negative impact of industrial civilization on the environment, and a virtually countless, mind-numbing array of race- and gender-baiting books decrying the evil that is the White Male Power Structure(tm). The only thing missing (and I probably just didn't see it) was the complete works of Noam Chomsky. And I haven't even mentioned the bulletin boards all over campus, which are an eclectic mix of job advertisements (including one for the Democratic Party of Kentucky. None for Republicans.) and seminar fliers for topics like "Black Lesbians" and "Ten Things Men Can Do To Stop Gender Violence." I'm considering whether I need to invest in an armored codpiece to protect against impending emasculation.
I'm still very excited to be back in college, and I'm enjoying the university setting so far, despite the minor annoyances of megaphone-wielding fratboys hawking their juvenile social clubs and the milieu of clueless hipsters who think pink and blue hair, combined with enough piercings to look like they just lost an intense battle with a tackle box, will make them a unique individual, just like all their friends. I am, however, beginning to wonder how Republicans, conservatives, libertarians and other non-lefties manage to make it through four years of college with their sanity intact. But, I figure if I can handle four years of daily ass-chewings, intense physical training and multiple deployments to hostile climates with hostile residents, college will be a walk in the park.