Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
Next weekend is the Tucson Festival of Books. It’s a wonderful affair; I go every year. The grassy Mall at the University of Arizona will be covered with hundreds of vendor booths, many with authors signing and selling their books. The auditoriums and lecture halls surrounding the Mall will host author panels. Writers will discuss subjects within their areas of expertise; many will have written (and be selling) books that touch on the discussion topics.
Now, Tucson is a liberal town. And, the University of Arizona is also pretty liberal, as all universities are these days. As you look at the panels discussing political issues, you’ll see plenty of Trump opponents amongst the panelists. No surprises there.
But, I’d expected to see at least a few obvious, well-known Trump supporters on the panels. Arizona voted for Trump in 2016, and the University of Arizona is a state university. I’d expect the festival organizers to feel compelled to have some diversity of viewpoints on these panels.
Look through the schedule of panels, and focus in on the ones that touch on political topics, especially topics where you’d expect Donald Trump to come up in the discussions. Then, look at the panelists and their bios. I suspect you’ll see the same thing I did: The panelists ALL appear to be Trump opponents or critics.
No open Trump supporters, like Victor Davis Hanson. Not even any of the middle-of-the-road conservatives, like Ben Shapiro or Hugh Hewitt—-people who aren’t MAGA people by any stretch of the imagination, but who don’t reflexively bash the president either. (Hanson and Shapiro are selling books now, BTW).
Elizabeth Vaughan’s article on the Maoist Red Guard’s…sorry, Sunshine Movement’s visit to Senator Diane Feinstein’s office yesterday crossed my mind. Elizabeth said this:
“This video is a microcosm of what is occurring in education throughout America today. In it’s brief course, it reveals precisely how and where liberal indoctrination (groupthink) originates. The ‘instruction’ begins in elementary school, continues throughout college and it has given rise to a new generation of far-left zealots.”
I read that, and I was reminded of what Bernard Goldberg claimed in his book “Bias”: Most journalists weren’t consciously disregarding or demeaning conservative viewpoints. They just never saw them. They only saw liberal (now, progressive) arguments. They lived in a bubble. Hence, their bias stemmed not from malice, but ignorance.
If you only see one side of an argument, over time that can warp your thinking. It can lead to zealotry. (In extreme cases, it can lead to nice kids dancing to songs titled “I Hate Israel.”) It’s always good to be exposed to different viewpoints on a topic, especially a controversial one.
I do not know the extent to which the University of Arizona is responsible for which panelists do or do not speak at the Tucson Festival of Books. But, if you look at the website, you’ll see the university’s name listed prominently on the masthead.
Anyone with common sense and some awareness of American politics can look at the lineup of panelists and see the ideological imbalance. It is unmistakable. In a purple state, I’d expect the state’s flagship university to acknowledge, and encourage the spreading of, all points of view.
The charitable thing is to think of the University of Arizona’s leadership and staff in the same manner that Bernard Goldberg thought of his journalism colleagues: well-meaning but naively ignorant of the ideological bubble they lived in. So, they don’t see the imbalance of these panels.
I advise that we not be charitable. If the U of A leadership is this naive, then it is stupid and incompetent and should be replaced. (Perhaps the state legislature could investigate and answer this question.)
But, I do not think the U of A leadership is stupid or incompetent. This lack of ideological balance is simply too blatant. They have to see it. And yet, it is still there. So, I have to conclude that they approve of the imbalance, or simply don’t care.
It’s not too late to remedy this problem. I’m sure there are some Trump-friendly authors (or authors who don’t loathe the president) who could come to these panels if the U of A and the Tucson Festival of Books asked. Shapiro and Hanson both live in California; there are multiple direct flights to/from Tucson and major California cities each day. And, we can always add one more chair to the panelist’s table.
I am confident that the University of Arizona and the Tucson Festival of Books organization are not MAGA country. I don’t expect them to be. But they might want to consider the impact of leaving a “Trump-Friendly Voices Not Wanted” impression.
If you tell people, through your words or actions, that they’re not wanted, at some point they’ll believe you. Then they won’t support you. In fact, many will make a point of it to not support you. And many Arizonans support, or at least do not loathe, President Trump.
If citizens come to believe that public institutions (e.g. a flagship state university) don’t want or respect them—then don’t be surprised if those citizens start looking for ways to get that institution’s attention. Pulling hair gets someone’s attention. And, at some point, if you conclude that someone’s not listening to you, or respecting you—well, it might be time to pull their hair. Arizona legislators (and voters), take note.