Politics

Even Liberals Decry Rise of ‘Liberal Echo Chambers’

'Morning Joe' panel lauds column eviscerating the 'insular' Left on college campuses

The panel on Monday’s “Morning Joe” praised a Saturday op-ed column from Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times in which he harshly condemned the liberal “echo chamber” that has taken hold of college campuses.

The column, which was titled, “The Dangers of Echo Chambers on Campus,” offered a sobering warning to coddled college students and tin-eared academics who simply couldn’t handle, or understand, President-Elect Donald Trump’s stunning victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Kristof, a progressive liberal himself, lampooned reports of “primal howls,” canceled classes, canceled exams, and widespread mourning occurring on college campuses across the country after Trump won. The “Morning Joe” panel on MSNBC agreed it was too much.

“To be fully educated, students should encounter not only Plato, but also Republicans.”

“Again, if everywhere you go people say you’re right — no matter how weak your argument is — it creates an intellectual laziness that allows you to see your party collapse. And you wake up one day and you only have 11 or 12 governors nationwide,” host Joe Scarborough said.

“Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski proceeded to read some except from Kristof’s column.

“I share apprehensions about President-Elect Trump, but I also fear the reaction was evidence of how insular universities have become,” Kristof wrote. “When students inhabit liberal bubbles, they’re not learning much about their own country. To be fully educated, students should encounter not only Plato, but also Republicans.”

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Kristof explained the outcry over Trump’s victory is symptomatic of a deeper and far more widespread problem: the “liberal echo chambers” that dominate what Scarborough dubbed to be an “illiberal education” system.

Noting that roughly 10 percent of college professors in the social sciences or humanities are Republicans, Kristof warned professors and students alike to guard against their own ideological intolerance.

“We liberals are adept at pointing out the hypocrisies of Trump, but we should also address our own hypocrisy in terrain we govern, such as most universities: Too often, we embrace diversity of all kinds except for ideological,” Kristof wrote. “We champion tolerance, except for conservatives and evangelical Christians. We want to be inclusive of people who don’t look like us — so long as they think like us.”

The “Morning Joe” panel took turns lauding the column.

“It is embarrassing that every elite conservative or liberal kinda got this race wrong, with the exception of a handful. One of the things the country has to do after every race is to raise the hood and understand — Democrats and Republicans — what happened,” said Harold Ford Jr., a professor at the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.

Ford, who served as a House Democrat from Tennessee for 10 years, argued that appreciation for diverse ideologies needs to start on college campuses.

“If kids don’t feel comfortable having honest, vigorous debates there or conversations there, it won’t leave from there,” Ford said.

Jeremy Peters, a reporter for The New York Times, added, “And this notion that an opposing political view is not just wrong, but that it’s offensive — that you can’t possibly bear the thought of having to be exposed to the other side’s argument — it’s so corrosive.”

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Rick Tyler, a former spokesman for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz during his failed presidential bid, also noted that it is “arrogant” for students to protest against potential speakers coming to their campuses who hold conservative views, and it will only harm them in the long run.

“If a speaker comes to your campus and you don’t want to listen to them, don’t listen to the speech,” Tyler said. “But to say ‘I don’t want anyone else to listen to them,’ that’s just really remarkable.”

If students and their professors don’t fully embrace the diversity they say they welcome and heed Kristof’s warning, there will be many dark days ahead for the country’s progress, the panel said.

“I fear the damage a Trump administration will do, from health care to foreign policy. But this election also underscores that we were out of touch with much of America, and we will fight back more effectively if we are less isolated,” Kristof concluded. “When universities are echo chambers, they become conservative punch lines, and liberal hand-wringing may be one reason Trump’s popularity has jumped since his election. It’s ineffably sad that today ‘that’s academic’ often means ‘that’s irrelevant.’ One step to correcting that is for us liberals to embrace the diversity we supposedly champion.”

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