Bigoted, Garbage Teacher Is Bigoted Garbage

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill / AP
random college campus probably filled with hateful bigots in positions of authority
April 19, 2016

If you want to understand what bias in academia looks like, you should read this essay by "Myrtle Lynn Payne" (a pseudonym). In it, she reveals that she is hesitant to write a recommendation for one of her students because that student has different beliefs than her on an important issue of the day.

That's literally her reason:

It’s so complicated. On one side are all of my ideas about supporting students, honoring their individuality and their journeys, creating a safe space for them (and myself), not taking things out of context, not overinterpreting. On the other side are my memories of growing up in a situation where guns, people, and bullets had to be rigorously kept apart, lest they find each other in a tragic moment of instability.

She seems to be a good kid, Sarah. And I don’t know what she really thinks of gun advocacy and political failures that have cost us all these lives and our sense of safety as educators. I don’t know what she does on the weekends. I also don’t know if she understands emotions, or what real rage feels like. It seems to me no person who has truly experienced the full impact of their own emotions would ever go near a gun.

So what do I do? Do I write her a recommendation because I originally said yes? Do I say no and explain myself? Do I ignore her email?

It's actually really not "so complicated." Could you imagine a professor ever writing an essay that went something like "Well, I was going to recommend Sarah for a fellowship, but then I found out she was pro-choice. Has she ever considered the mental anguish that causes pro-life people?" Or maybe "I was going to recommend Steve for a job, but then I found out he believes the wage gap is real. Can we really afford to have ignorant ideologues in our classrooms?" Or how about "I used to like Pete but then I found out he was not only supportive of gay marriage—he wanted to get gay-married himself! AYFKM?"

Of course not. And, obviously, Ms. "Payne" understands just how awful and bigoted she must sound—hence her hiding behind a pseudonym like a coward. Still, one imagines that she's far from the only garbage professor who discriminates against her students for holding different political beliefs. What's truly worrisome is just how many people like her there are in positions of authority on campuses around the country. Conservative professors already spend their professional lives in the ideological closet to avoid upsetting their bigoted coworkers. One hopes their young wards won't have to start doing the same.