I have recently read a spate of articles on the heavy preponderance of liberal faculty in colleges and universities, defended by statistics that show the more educated a person is, the more likely his views are to lean leftward–used to support the argument that there is no significant hiring bias against conservatives.

The problem here is that bias in faculty hiring is, like many other forms of discrimination, nearly impossible to prove in particular cases.  Hiring decisions not only go on behind closed doors, but can be accomplished by those making the decisions using language in which it is possible that the question of the orientation of the potential faculty member never be explicitly mentioned–even the proverbial fly on the wall could remain ignorant of motives–but is, nevertheless sought for in the information provided by applicants and confirmed, if there are any questions remaining, by interviews.  Conservative orientation is almost impossible to hide, even if explicit identifying questions are not licit, for the sum of telltale signs usually tells the story quite clearly–at least clearly enough to rule the conservative out in a very competitive hiring situation where very small differences are enough to decide between the winner and the losers, and liberal candidates are more than happy to give off the signs that identify them as among the enlightened.  The real reason for rejecting the conservative applicant are never given, but a deficiency as over against the liberal candidates will be found as an adequate reason to reject.

A parallel phenomenon is seen in churches that wish to screen out conservative priests or ministers, and chronicled in a Catholic context by Michael S. Rose’s Goodbye, Good Men.  The rejected conservative is predictably identified as having a damning personal fault like “lack of collegiality,” or “intolerant of views different than his own,” or “lacking a sense of humor” (which the process of examination is unlikely to call forth), or “judgmentalism,” when the real problem, which will become evident during the process–because it will be sought for–will be that he thinks homosexuality sinful, or is opposed to the ordination of women.

I have read comments from those who mock this narrative by observing that it is put forward by people claiming victimhood who deplore the same when they see it among liberals, whose general approach to the opinion that the liberal is increasingly, now perhaps overwhelmingly, characterized by the self-delusion of the bad person who wishes to think himself good, is tu quoque–the rhetorical dodge of neutralizing the charge of lying or malfeasance in particular cases by asserting that their accusers are no better.