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Canceled at Cal Berkeley

with Steven Hayward,
hosted by Richard M. Reinsch II

Richard Reinsch:

Today we’re talking with Steven Hayward about travails in American higher education made possible through cancel culture and Steven Hayward’s particular experiences at the University of California Berkeley. With this unsettling development, Steven Hayward, we’re glad to welcome you back to Liberty Law Talk. When you were last on, we discussed your book, Patriotism is Not Enough: Harry Jaffa, Walter Berns, and the Arguments That Redefined American Conservatism. You’re also the author of a multi-volume history, The Age of Reagan, and numerous other essays and reviews and studies. You’re currently resident scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley. Of course, many will know you from your almost daily blogging at www.powerlineblog.com. We’re glad to have you.

Steven Hayward:

Well, thank you, Richard. It’s great to be back.

Richard Reinsch:

I want to talk about your particular experiences at UC Berkeley with some rather unhinged attempts to remove you from campus there by students and less than heroic deans responding to those students. But in general, I’d be interested to get your opinion on this, I think what we’re in now in regard to American higher education is sort of the mop up phase of the Marxist Gramsci’s famous call for a long march through the institutions by the left. I think they’ve marched through and they’ve captured all of them basically. Now they’re in a position of such dominance that there’s really very little pretense that they need to talk to anyone other than themselves or deal fairly and equitably with anyone other than themselves with regard to education and other cultural journalistic enterprises in America.

Steven Hayward:

I think that’s right. I mean for a long time I thought, like a lot of people did, that maybe I was too accepting of it. That the worst of the radicalism on campus was confined to women’s studies and English departments and language departments. Oddly enough, geography as a discipline went way left quite a long time ago. But that the other disciplines, the main social sciences, political science, sociology, history, although liberal for the most part and they have been for decades, they hadn’t completely succumbed to craziness. Well, that’s mostly wrong.

Some of the older disciplines are still okay in a relative sense, but you’re seeing that the administrations have certainly thrown in with what you might say the new woke culture that we live in and still be on the college campuses as we saw with what happened with James Damore at Google out in Silicon Valley. You may remember and listeners may remember when Sam Abrams at Sarah Lawrence, I think is where he is, published that article in The New York Times two years ago saying the problem now in universities is the administration has gone in on this. Of course, he had ferocious blow back over that.

One of the controversies at Berkeley right now and at several other places is essentially the demand that all faculty sign a diversity loyalty oath and that diversity will now be used as a criteria for hiring. Well, this is simply back to the McCarthy era. There is some blow back against this even at Berkeley and other UC campuses, but it’s all been put on the back burner because we’ve shut down for the virus.

Richard Reinsch:

I graduated from my undergraduate institution in 2001 and from law school in 2004. I remember in both institutions, one of which was a very progressive institution, we got a lot of mileage out of just pointing out the lack of representation of conservative, classical liberal voices on the campus. We seemed to find our voice that way. There was an implied tolerance and willingness to hear us out, an acknowledgement that, “Well, we basically own most of the campus, so we need to do this.” It seems to me that doesn’t even really exist anymore. What really does exist is the use of the university itself as Glenn Loury pointed out recently with Brown University’s statement, its anti-racism statement that the university itself becomes a social justice vehicle or becomes essentially an ideological enterprise. Of course, it’s been going on now for many years at UCLA where the professors have to write a statement, I think it’s every year, of how they’re furthering diversity with their teaching. You think of the McCarthy era, but this is something of a religious oath or test that is being required.

Steven Hayward:

That’s exactly right. I don’t know. I see no sign of anybody in administrations at universities recognize that this is a problem for them. I will say this about Berkeley, it’s sort of odd that I got there in the first place, and long further back, we can go into it a little bit if you want. A lot of people I’ve talked to in the political science department where I’ve spent some time and taught some classes and also some people in the administration say, “We know we have a problem with not enough conservatives on the faculty.” I have to give credit to the Berkeley administration. They have tried to be accommodating to the College Republicans who are not always as prudent as they might be. They invited Milo, right?

Richard Reinsch:

I remember that.

Steven Hayward:

Often referred to as the Milo riot. However, they don’t know what to do about it. They simply rubber stamp any of the most radical ideas that come along. This goes back at least 50 years to the ’60s when you had the SDS and other student radicals at the time saying universities should become a node of political activism. It’s not a place for learning anymore. Yeah, I think you’re right. You mentioned graduating, what, 30 years… wait, 20 years ago now. Sorry, you’re a young guy. I had a friend of mine who had a daughter, actually it’s my writing partner at Power Line, John Hinderaker. He has two daughters, 10 years apart. They both went to St. Olaf. One graduated 10 years ago, and one graduated just this last year. The two daughters got together and compared notes. The second daughter just graduated said… or the first daughter reflecting on her experience, a little bit like yours, just in the last 10 years things have gotten so much worse at that same little bucolic campus there in Minnesota.

Richard Reinsch:

Yeah, St. Olaf. You mentioned the administrators, and I think that’s something people don’t understand. You and I understand that this incredible explosion of these people with these jobs on campus has always happened roughly in that same time span, in the last 10 to 20 years, outpacing faculty hiring and part of… I mean a public choice analysis would be they’ve got to find something to do, something to make themselves worthwhile. But there’s also an ideological component here, too, and these are equity, diversity, inclusion and administrators have really found their measure in appealing to students for greater fairness or greater representational fairness on the basis of gender or race or various status. That becomes a way in which a campus is constantly in upheaval, but also this totalitarian mentality where you really do get into forcing people to think in certain ways, speak in certain ways in the name of fairness and equity. I think that’s sort of also what’s been happening or it has been happening on campus. Have you seen that? You also taught at the University of Colorado Boulder, itself no shrinking progressive violet.

Steven Hayward:

Right. Well, thinking about administrators, every institution now has a dean of diversity and inclusion and usually a large staff. It’s amazing how large the staff can be at the larger universities like a Berkeley or Michigan.

Richard Reinsch:

Six figure positions, right?

Steven Hayward:

Yes, exactly. Again, one of the more significant moments in the whole story with the Oberlin College libel suit brought by the bakery that was judged by a jury, what, a year ago, whatever it was, was a $25 million judgment. What they found was the dean of Diversity and Inclusion had been participating with the students and organizing protests against the bakery. Well, I looked up the dean. I forget her name now. Where’d she come from? Well, she came from women’s studies. You look at her publications and it’s all the deeply left-wing politicized radical woke stuff. You’re now going to make that person an administrator? I think you’ll find that kind of profile at a lot of these administrative positions at colleges around the country. Not as true at Berkeley. I don’t think Berkeley, for instance, has a bias incident response team like Michigan had or may still have, and I’m not sure whether it’s the dean or provost, but the person who does diversity and inclusion at Berkeley right now is from the sciences. I think he’s a biologist. I’ve met him. I’m sure he’s a liberal, but he doesn’t seem to be quite as far gone into the fever swamp as you find in so many places.

Richard Reinsch:

What’s a bias response team?

Steven Hayward:

Well, bias incident response team is where students or faculty, but it’s usually students, can report instances of racism or sexism or transphobia. Whether it’s something you said or written or said in class even and they’ll come and investigate this. Of course, we know how these investigations go. It’s leading to increasing amounts of self-censorship by students and faculty.

Richard Reinsch:

It was a sign also things were going wrong, Trump wins in 2016, and various universities providing safe spaces on campus for the students to talk about this. One of the activities was to color or to express your feelings with color. I thought it was hilarious. In general, it seems to me something in the background here, though, is really it’s a Supreme Court opinion, Bakke v. Regents of University of California system 1978, where there’s this mention by Justice Powell that diversity could be a rationale on the basis that they bring their perspective. That becomes in itself a good. But of course, that doesn’t really gel with affirmative action which was about remediation. Diversity becomes an ever-springing justification for this sort of thinking that you’re going to tie an ideology to a gender or to a race. It seems this has just… whatever Powell intended, and it’s not just higher education, it’s now corporations, it’s now journalism, this has gone beyond this. It’s become, I guess, in a way just fundamentally liberal in its consequences.

Steven Hayward:

It’s probably worth reminding listeners a little bit about both affirmative action, how it began, and then the Bakke case. If you go back to the original executive orders from first actually John F. Kennedy and then Lyndon Johnson and then the initial programs that were adopted in the private sector and universities, the idea was outreach. Let’s find minorities who, for whatever reason, bad schools or whatever, have the ability and who should be recruited into the employment pool and then hired on merit equally with anybody else. Well, that didn’t last very long. It became de facto quotas pretty fast. In the Bakke case in the ’70s, you have the University of California Medical School at Davis reserved, I think, 21 spots out of 100 for the medical school for minorities no matter what your MCAT scores were and grades and so forth. Allan Bakke sued. He had very high scores but had been turned down twice. Meanwhile all 21 of the students admitted on the quota had test scores and grades not even a little bit below his but way below his.

So the courts said, “NO, you can’t do that. You can’t have a numerical quota.” But the whole opinion of the court was a mess because you had all these different concurrences and dissents. So Justice Powell, as you said, was the swing vote saying, “Bakke wins. You can’t have a quota, but diversity should be a factor.” Now, I’ve come to the heretical views just recently that maybe that case was wrongly decided. Maybe we would have been better off, I think, on principle according to a rightful understanding of equality and individual rights, but maybe politically, socially, we would have been better off if the court had said, Fine. You can have quotas. Go ahead. Make my day.”

I think it would have been like busing was in the ’60s and ’70s, hugely unpopular including even with minorities. I think it would have all collapsed from its own weight. Instead, everybody said, “Ah, diversity. There’s a perfect thing to dodge behind.” Now it’s become this huge ideology. I know you follow this closely. It reminds me a little bit of the unintended consequences or perverse results of the Chevron case. We talk a lot about the Chevron doctrine. That was a case the Reagan administration won in court. It’s become a nightmare for the bureaucracy, and now it’s the thing we most want to get rid of. Well, I think the Bakke case is similar.

Richard Reinsch:

It seems to me also a part of this diversity unfolding or unintended consequences, perhaps, the University of California system recently voting to eliminate use of SAT and ACT in admissions requirements, I think, after this year. Of course, more institutions will follow suit. You’ve got the University of California Los Angeles, UC Berkeley. These are high-performing institutions that will not use this basic meritocratic criteria. I think it gives the administrators free rein to shape this campus in the way they want.

Steven Hayward:

Yes. By the way, I should be very specific about this. The faculty at Berkeley, and I think maybe UCLA but I know at Berkeley, faculty Senate actually voted against the idea.

Richard Reinsch:

That’s right. I read that.

Steven Hayward:

I think that’s quite significant. So your liberal faculty said, “No, wait a minute. We want to keep the SAT.” Why is that? Well, I can tell you. Berkeley students, for the most part, are really good. It’s a hard school to get into, and I think the faculty respect this. They want the smart students and they understand… What’s really going on here is, and I picked this up four years when I first showed up there, that the idea of meritocracy is under attack from the left. It has to be because in California the real reason is the Asian kids, a large Asian population. They get super high test scores. So the first thing that the universities diversicrats want to do is they want to get rid of our Prop 209 that banned affirmative action admissions for our public universities. Then they want to be able to shape the demographic of the student body explicitly according to race, and you have to overthrow the idea of meritocracy to do that. So the SAT is just step one, and grades don’t mean much anymore because of grade inflation. So at that point we are going to get back to essentially having quotas, and no one will admit that that’s what they’re doing.

Richard Reinsch:

It’s absolutely amazing. It’s absolutely amazing that it happens as America increasingly becomes this multiracial society.

Steven Hayward:

Yeah, yeah.

Richard Reinsch:

I mean it’s amazing to me. Let’s talk about, you go to Berkeley as a visiting professor. You’re a conservative. You teach, if I remember… You talk about this, by the way, in a really nice, entertaining, well-written essay in the current edition of Commentary. Your piece there is “How I Ran Afoul of Campus Cancel Culture.” You go to Berkeley to teach, what, a couple of classes in the undergrad department. You have a good experience for the first couple of years, so much so that you wonder if you’re not doing it right.

Steven Hayward:

Yeah, right. I kept thinking, why are there not protests? The student newspaper wrote a nasty article about me when I arrived, but that’s par for the course. Nobody paid any attention to it in the administration or in any of the departments.

Richard Reinsch:

Well, you said they wrote a mean piece about you in the student newspaper, but it actually helped your student enrollment.

Steven Hayward:

Well, this is the funny thing is that I suddenly… I was teaching a large lecture class on the Constitution actually in political science that no one had been teaching for a while. I had a long waiting list to get in even with a room that held 150 people. I had a couple of students, one kid actually… I really liked this kid. He was very progressive, a big Bernie Sanders supporter. He spotted me one day walking across Sproul Plaza. I hadn’t met him yet. This was before class. He walked up to me because he looked me up, I guess, and says, “You’re Professor Hayward.” I said, “Yes, I am.” He goes, “I’m taking your class. I want to argue with you.” I said, “Great!” By the way, he was great in class. He was very smart, very left but sat right in the front row and bring things up and made the class a lot better.

That’s the thing I think a lot of left-leaning people on campuses don’t understand is they’re impoverishing their own campuses. He wasn’t the only one. I had another kid take three classes from me. It wasn’t till the third class, I was like, “Gosh, Mr. Howard, you’re a real glutton for punishment.” I get talking to him one day. I find out he’s a big liberal Democrat and close personal friends with Nancy Pelosi. But he said, “You’re the only conservative I’ve ever been exposed to.” It’s interesting. It’s challenging for me. The style of the class is different. I think that’s maybe a longer subject another day. Many conservatives teach differently than leftists do. Students understand this now.

Then what happened is that some students looked me up and had a freak out and started a Twitter storm and wrote long memos, heavily footnoted to all the woke literature about what a threat I was to them because of my racism and sexism and homophobia. The dean, unfortunately, folded on the spot which I think was unfortunate. I think he actually regrets it in hindsight. To make a long story short, the fuss didn’t end with me. There were a bunch of students considering demanding that the dean resign.

Richard Reinsch:

Talk about that for a minute. That’s an interesting thread.

Steven Hayward:

Well, I think most conservatives whether their libertarians or your traditionalists or Straussians or whoever, they tend to take the text more seriously. They tend to teach from original texts rather than textbooks. Above all, I think I’ll say this as a collective statement, we tend to be anti-historicists. We take ideas seriously. We read Edmund Burke not out of antiquarian fascination but because we think he might be right about things. He might be right today. You average liberal doesn’t think that way. They think ideas change with the times. They’re all basically Hegelians. If you tell a student that actually what Burke or Tocqueville or somebody thought doesn’t really matter, it’s not relevant today, then why would you take it seriously? Why would you work very hard reading it?

Richard Reinsch:

What year did you start teaching at Berkeley?

Steven Hayward:

Well, back in 2017 I was a fellow and the fall of 2016, so I was there for the election. And you’re right. They had a collective freak out on the campus when Trump won.

Richard Reinsch:

Yeah, I remember reading it. You start teaching in 2017, and things go pretty well. How did you engage with…? How did cancel culture land on you?

Steven Hayward:

Well, I should go back up a step. It happened that the Goldman School of Public Policy at Berkeley, which is, by the U.S. News ranking, the number one public policy program in the country. Actually ironically, it was the dean of the school there, Henry Brady, a very distinguished political scientist, who had initially contacted me, I don’t know, five, six years ago when I was teaching at Pepperdine saying, “We’d like to get some visiting conservatives come to the Goldman School. Would you be interested?” I said, “Maybe.” I went up and met him and met a bunch of faculty, and they really wanted me to come. Then what happened is competition. It’s a good thing. Some people who know me, I didn’t know them, but who know me in the political science department got wind of it and then John Yoo at the law school also. They said, “Yeah, the Goldman School’s great, but why don’t you come and spend time with us at public policy and the law school. By the way, we’ll keep you for two or three years if you wanted.” I thought, “Well, that sounds like fun. I go in for that.” So that’s what happened. But Dean Brady kept after me. So this year I said, “Okay, I’ll come teach for the Goldman School this year.”

Then what happened is that some students looked me up and had a freak out and started a Twitter storm and wrote long memos, heavily footnoted to all the woke literature about what a threat I was to them because of my racism and sexism and homophobia. The dean, unfortunately, folded on the spot which I think was unfortunate. I think he actually regrets it in hindsight. To make a long story short, the fuss didn’t end with me. There were a bunch of students considering demanding that the dean resign. One of their memos was about all of his years of macro and microaggressions and harming minorities at the Goldman School that would last for years, which not many things deans do last for years but there you go.

Richard Reinsch:

I want to get to that in a minute. One thing you note in the article is, which I thought that was pretty funny, you had two course descriptions that they objected to and that caused them upset. One you had “History of Conservative Thought from Burke to Bannon”, as in Trump’s Bannon, which at first thought, I said to myself if I was teaching that I probably wouldn’t have called it that. But it’s actually kind of a smart thing to do particularly in that environment in terms of getting students. In any event, Bannon is something of a thinker. I’m not saying he’s right, but he does have some ideas and arguments. He’s read some texts closely. So it’s not exactly beyond the pale that you would read him particularly now. And they couldn’t handle that.

I mean one reason why this was such a shocking episode is that it’s in a public policy program, which is otherwise very quantitatively oriented even if liberal. It’s not critical theory and some of these really insane disciplines that exist out on the… well, not on the fringes anymore. That’s what made it so startling.

Steven Hayward:

Yeah, that was funny. That was the course title I used in the political science department. Yeah, you’re right. If you talk to faculty these days especially at big universities and they say, “Course titles are very important. It’s a marketing tool like anything else.” I taught the course, one political science and had a pretty big class, again, with a full spectrum of ideological views and a lively discussion. So I said, “Oh, why don’t I teach that class at the Goldman School?” They said, “The class sounds fine, but the title is way too outrageous for our very liberal students.” So they suggested this very anodyne title. I forget what it was now, but it was very bland and background… Anyway, I taught the course. It was a much smaller class at the Goldman School and very little discussion. I had to argue with myself half the time because I couldn’t get students to… By the way, I tell students right off the bat nowadays that I’m conservative but you’re more likely to be rewarded in class if you argue with me than simply nod your head or stay silent.

I want argument. I don’t ever tell the students they’re wrong. I believe a dialectical, almost like a seminar process, that went, I think, way off crazy, I’ll say, “Well, blah, blah this, blah, blah that.” Then if we go on for a while and say, “Okay, we’ll just leave it there.” Then we move on to other people and other things. Anyway, I’m pretty easy going in the classroom. But still, the class was a huge contrast to the political science classes I’ve had.

Richard Reinsch:

In class, and you quote an administrator at another school, at American University, saying that students seem reluctant to engage in difficult questions and debates. None of that surprises me. Did you find that to be the case in this course and/or something else that students themselves don’t trust their own reasoning? They don’t actually think words and arguments can really touch anything in a true way.

Steven Hayward:

I don’t know how many of them really thought it through to even one or two levels of philosophical tail as you suggest, at least not in the departments I’ve been in. I mean one reason why this was such a shocking episode is that it’s in a public policy program, which is otherwise very quantitatively oriented even if liberal. It’s not critical theory and some of these really insane disciplines that exist out on the… well, not on the fringes anymore. That’s what made it so startling.

Richard Reinsch:

It’s interesting you’re saying about the public policy school, too, I supposed their thinking is, “We’re not going to interact in our own careers. We have to put up with the politics of, but we’re not going to really interact with conservatives or libertarians or classical liberals” at the level of wherever they’re going to end up: high bureaucratic positions in the federal government, foundation positions, whatever they’re going to go on and do. They have the answers before them so, “Why are you trying to have us read primary texts even? I wonder if that was the public policy attitude.

Steven Hayward:

Well, it could be. Here’s where having criticized Dean Brady I should give him some praise. He’s a liberal. He’s not a leftist, but he’s an old liberal. He said, “Look, I think it is important for students to know about Edmund Burke’s argument and Hayek. He says, “There’s a great value in reading Hayek. Students should know about Hayek.” Dean Brady says, “I think Hayek’s critique of central planning is correct, and students need to know that.” By the way, he was a big fan of James Q. Wilson. Didn’t agree with him about everything. What he really wanted from someone like me at the Goldman School was to be something like James Q. Wilson. Well, what was James Q. Wilson interested in his last decade of his life? Moral questions, questions of character. I don’t think that would fly right now.

Richard Reinsch:

Marriage. He wrote a book on marriage, right?

Steven Hayward:

Marriage, exactly, right. But think about it for a minute, I think there’s always been uncertainty… just to get off a little bit into the short weeds anyway. There’s political science that tries to understand political life, and public policy is sort of the practical offshoot of it, I think. A lot of people there, they’re going to become, I guess, I don’t necessarily want to say technocrats the way that word’s usually meant, but they’re there… Maybe actually I’ll borrow from Marx. Political science students want to understand the world. Public policy students want to change it. Even though a lot of political science graduate students are pretty left, some very left, although there’s also some conservatives among the political science graduate students at Berkeley… Public policy, I don’t think there are any conservative graduate students. I think the number is zero. They’re there to want to change the world. I think you’re right. I think when you’re in the big bubble of the university, you don’t think… Well, I mean you know the general public narrative is that Republicans have only won elections by cheating, by deceiving people, etc., etc. They don’t take the argument seriously.

Richard Reinsch:

This is not an original observation, but you said number one public policy school in America, which aspires to be, I assume, not merely a national school but an international school and the positions its graduate students aspire to. Yet, you’re the only conservative faculty member. Maybe there’s some moderate progressives, but you’re the only one, and the students almost uniformly left. To me, that’s indicative of just an intellectual failure going on. When that’s the case, it’s not merely what texts are you reading. It’s what questions do you not even know to ask. Which leads to, this is in the article, you’re denounced by student groups called Equity in Public Policy who form a consortium to attack you, Students of Color in Public Policy and Black Students in Public Policy. They said that Steven Hayward was, quote, “a climate denier who actively promotes ideas that harm communities of color and other marginalized groups and for your, quote, ‘repeated racist, misogynist and transphobic statements.'” Steven Hayward, how do you plead to this?

Steven Hayward:

Well, I got a whole bunch of new readers from my post on the Power Line blog which can be pretty polemical. Of course, what am I usually doing? I’m usually citing Thomas Sowell, John McWhorter, Coleman Hughes. I think maybe I’ve written only two things ever about same sex marriage, and usually it was analytical things. I remember writing an article once about my conversations with Jonathan Rauch about same sex marriage. I’ve written a couple of things about what, I guess, we’d call… Is transgenderism actually a formal ideology?

Richard Reinsch:

I think so.

Steven Hayward:

But I’ve written a couple things about the identity question and as a very skeptical thing but not hostile because I talked about transgender people I know and what they say and say, “Here are things to think about.” But the point is if you’re not… It’s a very narrow orthodoxy I think this is what we all know. It was a shock to read it. The climate thing is completely wrong. Of course, that is true for a long time that you’re either a true believer or you’re the moral equivalent of a Holocaust denier. You’re not allowed to be a lukewarmer, which there’s a lot of people who fit in that category like Matt Ridley, for example, and lots of others and including, by the way, some Berkeley faculty in the physics department. But that’s where we are. All these talks of tolerance turn out to be pretty particular and narrow.

Just the fact that I had dissented from the party line in the past and that I was wholly unacceptable. I think just using the phrase “free market environmentalism” was like raising a red flag for a bull. Everybody freaked out.

Richard Reinsch:

I talk a little bit about this. You also had this very negative response from a course you taught. I think this actually ties into what you just said about public policy students. You were going to teach a course on approaches to environmentalism outside of the mainstream. I think a part of the course description is free market environmentalism, and you were going to teach the book, which I’ve read and actually used in conferences, called Free Market Environmentalism by Terry Anderson and, was it, Donald Leal, which is largely seen as the book that launched free market environmentalism. I think it came out in the early 1980s. This was triggering and hateful and unsettling. I thought, “Oh my gosh, we can’t even have a conversation about that in a public policy school.”

Steven Hayward:

That was always amazing. I should fill in a little bit. Unless somebody knows this field, they won’t necessarily get it from the description that I printed in full in Commentary. It was going to be Free-Market Environmentalism, Ecomodernism, Degrowth, and, I forget, Other Heterodox. So I was going to do… Degrowth is sort of a revival of Malthusianism. We’ve got a couple of prominent faculty at Berkeley who were behind this. Plus I have a couple of people I know who are sort of on the fringes of that. I was going to invite them to class as guest speakers to represent the point of view and disagree with me.

Then one of the other key books I was going to use was Elinor Ostrom’s Managing the Commons. Elinor Ostrom was, until last fall, one of the only women to have won the Nobel Prize in economics, and near as I can tell she is totally unknown by anybody at the Goldman School. Her work is in a nether world in between old control and command regulation and pure markets and property rights. As such you get a whole… ecomodernism or the aggressive environmentalists who have broken with the old Malthusian and want to talk about the importance of economic growth and technology as solutions to environmental problems. So it was going to be a whole spectrum of things. I know some of the ecomodernists in the Bay Area and was going to have them in to talk.

I wasn’t even going to talk about climate because I think climate change is wrecking the environmental movement. It’s just swallowing the whole thing up alive. I thought this would be something different. But it didn’t matter. Just the fact that I had dissented from the party line in the past and that I was wholly unacceptable. I think just using the phrase “free market environmentalism” was like raising a red flag for a bull. Everybody freaked out. Because my course in the fall totally went off without a hitch. There was no fuss. It was, as I say, a bit of a disappointment in the classroom dynamic. It wasn’t until my spring graduate seminar was announced and was listed, within 72 hours all hell broke loose.

Richard Reinsch:

It’s interesting. Going back to something you said, free market environmentalism requires a bit of policy work. It requires a pretty deep understanding of economic concepts and then applying that to problems in environmental policy use and how various companies engage with the environment and getting them to engage with it in a pro environmental way but using market ideas to do so, not regulation. Now maybe they weren’t even at that level in their objection to you. But it’s sort of like a recognition that this doesn’t involve us as much. This would not be for the public policy students to engage in really. It’s pro business or something like that. I wondered if maybe that was their thinking, but that may have been too deep.

Steven Hayward:

I think you’re probably right about that. I know Larry Alexander at the University of San Diego Law School used to teach a course on the environment from a contrarian point of view. He said it was known among the law students as the polluters’ perspective. Of course, if you know the free market and the environmental literature especially the thread of it that talks about common law remedy, and it often comes as a surprise to environmentalists when I explain to them the fact that the regulatory state they like so much actually has foreclosed a bunch of common law remedies that ordinary people can use against corporations, against the government. Interestingly, the people understand this clearly are the whole market historians, like I’m thinking of the guy who wrote The Transformation of American Law at Harvard years ago, I’m blanking on his name right now or Gabriel Kolko whose famous for The Triumph of Conservatism.

For public policy students who otherwise are pretty quantitative, I mean the Goldman School and most other elite programs require a lot of quantitative analysis classes and statistics, you would think that it would fit in well, how would they structure markets, incentives and tradable permits, and so on and so forth, work out as a superior remedy or let’s add another rule making from the EPA. But there’s no imagination for that at all right now. Obviously, as we see, not much open to even to considering the question.

Richard Reinsch:

That would be my understanding. The thing about the public policy school dean who had invited you to come teach and wanted your perspective, so when he gets attacked, he folds like a cheap suit. He says, I’ll just read it to you, it’s in the article, “I owe an apology to all of you. I take full responsibility as it was my sole decision to invite Steven Hayward to the Goldman School of Public Policy to teach two courses, one in the fall and spring. I took the fact that he was already affiliated with IGS, Institute for Governmental Studies, and teaching at Berkeley Law as indicators that he would be a thoughtful person, but that is not the case. I was not aware of his statements that belittle others and undermine our shared goals of ensuring a just and inclusive society. It’s one thing to disagree with someone. It’s another to demean them.” In a way he realized he was on the wrong side of the mob and sought to join them, not unlike, say, Mayor Ted Wheeler.

Steven Hayward:

By the way, I met Ted Wheeler once a few years ago before he was mayor.

Richard Reinsch:

He seems like a perfectly nice man.

Steven Hayward:

He has an MBA from Stanford or Yale, I forget where, and was treasurer of the state of Oregon. Yeah, I thought in the ordinary sense he seemed quite able. Anyway, now he’s just awful. If he hadn’t been mayor, he would have become a dean, it seems. Anyway, that’s getting us off track. I don’t know if the dean actually read any of the statements that the students were talking about or if he read… Look, I’d known him for a while. He had come to some events that I had done. I did a conference a couple years ago I organized through IGS on intellectual diversity. I had Harvey Mansfield out from Harvard as the keynote speaker and Josh Dunn from Colorado and Steven Teles from John Hopkins. Dean Brady came to several of the sessions. The guy knows me. It wasn’t like he plucked me out of the phone book and was suddenly surprised. When we talked first five years ago he was totally aware of my climate work in places like the Weekly Standard and The Public Interest.

Richard Reinsch:

Wow.

Steven Hayward:

So I think it’s one thing he’s embarrassed about. As I say, the students were after him. By the way, the students backed off demanding his resignation. Instead saying, “You need to start planning your succession right away.” I think the idea is they want a much more radical dean than him. I think there’s some chance that will happen. Dean Brady’s been very successful in the useful role of raising money and raising the profile of the school. He’s very good that way, so we’ll see about that. As I just mentioned, that’s why I wrote the second half of the article about Aaron Wildavsky, the great political scientist at Berkeley. He founded the Goldman School back in the early ’70s. I just quoted a few things he said. I could have gone on a long time about Aaron who I knew a little bit before he died. They couldn’t hire him today because my views are about the same as his views on identity politics, on environment and so forth.

Richard Reinsch:

One thing I did want to say, it seems to me… We were talking about the administrators earlier in the interview and how the administrators goad the students on. Well, it’s like the feedback loop. The students have now realized the way to get change on campus or to get their way is to hurl these accusations. It’s not that Brady is an evil guy, but he’s been open to evil things. He’s allowed them to happen. He hasn’t been nearly as aggressive as he needs to be. This now means we need a change or something like that. This inability to have any sort of conversation or debate on campus, and the fact that that is damning, that he would turn you out before even talking to you as an equal, as an academic equal, that’s shocking. It undermined the entire idea of an academic enterprise.

Steven Hayward:

Yeah, and it’s spreading rapidly. As we’re talking, I just read a story yesterday or the day before about Tulane University where-

Richard Reinsch:

Yeah, I saw that.

Steven Hayward:

… some group was… Right, you should know the story, . I forget whether it was a class or a student group or whatever. They were going to host an author who’d written a self-critical book about the legacy of his grandparents or great-grandparents in the Klan. In other words, it’s a anti-racist book very much in the vein of not revisionist history but highlighting really ugly aspects of American history. Students complained that this was hurtful. So they canceled the event. Where are the adults in the room to say, “You people are complaining about this. You need to grow up”? That’s what needs to happen, and there’s nobody doing that any place.

Richard Reinsch:

It is. It’s the complete evacuation of any moral authority it seems to me, or confidence in what we are actually here to do in the academy, which isn’t to carry on just political conversations, and if we do have them, we have them in a different way. What I took from your Aaron Wildavsky discussion, which I thought was really well stated, Wildavsky was a traditional liberal, a New Deal liberal, confidence in government, confidence in the administrative state to achieve good outcomes but he becomes skeptical over time about some of those aims and some of the loftier objectives being voiced, and also within academia would have been a conservative because he did believe in the idea, debate, dialectic process itself. So he wouldn’t have understood this, and also, as you quote him, incredibly skeptical of climate change, global warming in the early ’90s.

Steven Hayward:

Yeah, that’s right. I don’t think he would have changed his mind if he had lived on. He died in 1993, I think, of lung cancer unfortunately. He had been a lifelong smoker. But I don’t think he would have changed his mind at all because he wrote a lot about environment issues, not just climate but risk assessment of all kinds is one of his greatest strengths. I will say just in passing the political science department at Berkeley, it’s very large. It’s also very highly ranked. But it actually has a few conservatives lurking around but not outspoken like Mansfield or somebody. We have a lot of old sensible liberals teaching there, so there’s actually more diversity, in the right sense of the word, of thought there than we now see at the Goldman School, which I think is a pretty stark thing.

Richard Reinsch:

Very stark. Overall, you’re still going to teach in the law school, I think you told me.

Steven Hayward:

Here, that’s another… I’ve taught a class and I’m going to teach again this spring with Judge Janice Rogers Brown who’s also-

Richard Reinsch:

Oh, wow.

Steven Hayward:

… a fellow at the law school. We teach a class on natural law jurisprudence . It’s just a small seminar, but we get some liberal students in there. Again, it’s the same experience. We actually read some Cicero. We read some Aristotle. Most of the students really have never read any of these old texts at all and are completely unfamiliar with them, and they like it. It’s the most highly ranked course I’ve taught at Berkeley in the student evaluation.

Richard Reinsch:

Oh wow. John Yoo who also teaches at Berkeley, he told me in his course, “Constitutional Law,” when he gets to the 14th Amendment, they read about Reconstruction and the period of Reconstruction. None of the students, he told me, have very little knowledge of what that is. At the same time they’re very sure what the 14th Amendment means. It’s interesting to me right way about what students actually know, don’t know, and what they’re claiming is absolutely true.

Steven Hayward:

Right. I remember Robert Bork who I knew quite a bit when we overlapped at AEI years ago, he used to talk about, and it turns out to be literally true, most constitutional law curriculum at law schools, and maybe it was where you went, begins with the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. That’s kind of the whole Constitution now. The historical context of it is not taught at all. You go straight to the case law. I found to my surprise, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but a couple times in various classes I bring up the question of social justice and I’ve included Hayek’s famous essay on the mirage of social justice a couple of times, but then I’ll talk about… how does this compare to some of the old classical categories of social justice like you find in Aristotle, commutative justice, distributive justice?

What I realized with the look on students’ faces and also they come up to me after the classes, they’ve never heard of those before. The whole lineage of that was just not in their education any place. So then I end up teaching Aristotle, too. I joke a lot, and this is what John’s point is, an awful lot of what conservatives do in higher education is remedial education, willy-nilly. I end up telling people what Plato’s Republic is about or certain parts of it because that’s not read anymore. I sneak in Tocqueville. I think, again, why conservatives teach differently is it’s not uniform but a lot of us are actually teaching Western Civilization in a clandestine way because it’s not taught. Even liberal students kind of want to know it.

Richard Reinsch:

Yes. I think that’s right. In the summertime I teach various courses for conservative organization students. These students are remarkably open to that and prefer that, and many of them attend institutions or take classes where that’s the case. I haven’t had the general experience of what you’re describing. Steven Hayward, so you go on. You’ve not been canceled. You obviously have a lot of places to write and publish, and you’ll still be at the law school, so we look forward to continue to hear from you.

Steven Hayward:

Well, thanks, Richard. This has been fun, as always.

Reader Discussion

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.

on September 01, 2020 at 07:31:48 am

This is really disturbing: students simply assuming that their views are correct, and not being willing to consider alternatives, and this, then, being backed up by a Dean. If one considers, also, the whole story of the transformation of American research universities from initially being religious-based institutions, to being aggressively secular, as argued by George M. Marsden, there seems to me a strong case for the idea that there needs to be a re-starting of research universities specialising in the humanities and social sciences, which are committed to having a majority of conservative and classical liberal scholars, and to genuine academic debate, at a high scholarly level.

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Jeremy F Shearmur
on September 01, 2020 at 10:04:26 am

If there were aliens and they came to earth and visited universities they'd have to conclude there's no intelligent life here.

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Russ Davis
on September 01, 2020 at 14:37:16 pm

Since these are public universities receiving both state and national funding, where is the First Amendment protection for professors who get "cancelled" for expressing their opinions? I'm not a lawyer, much less a constitutional lawyer. But I have to wonder. Has this been litigated? If so, how have courts ruled? If not, why not? Are "cancelled" conservatives and libertarians afraid to sue? Or can't they get representation? If this is not challenged, then thought control wins, doesn't it?

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Rob Zrabkowski

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.