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The Conservative View Simply Cannot Accept Debate

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Conservatism is dying in this country and that saddens me because I am a conservative, if that label means;
  • Respecting the financial restraints that underpin the nation's fiscal strength
  • Conserving the multiplicity of thought and action that nurtures civil progress
  • Creating and honoring a wide and continuing spectrum of legal debate within the courts
  • Recognizing that schools are not there to teach, but to facilitate learning and inquiry
  • Providing a civil space within which opposing views are debated rather than shouted down

Consider this piece from today's Washington Post:

Scholars Decry Law School's About-Face on New Dean

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 14, 2007; Page A02

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 13 -- Scholars across the political spectrum protested what they called an assault on academic freedom after the University of California at Irvine withdrew a job offer from a liberal professor who wrote an op-ed criticizing the Bush administration.

Faculty members were furious, and blogs and editorial pages hummed Thursday with news that constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky, 54, would not become de, kmiecan of the University of California's first new law school in 40 years.

Douglas W. Kmiec, a conservative Constitutional scholar and law professor at Pepperdine University who has often debated Chemerinsky called him "a gentle soul, a splendid scholar and a person with a fine legal mind. . . . And I say this as someone who generally disagrees with where his mind is coming from." Kmiec wrote in a Los Angeles Times editorial on Thursday that the withdrawal of the job offer "is a betrayal of everything a great institution like the University of California represents."
But conservatism has been wrecked.

Not by Arnold Schwartzenegger or Ronald Reagan, but by the bitter, senseless, arbitrary, mindless and uncontrolled focus of men like Karl Rove and David Addington. Enabled by Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush, conservatism has been sent reeling into the chaos of chaotic broadcasting.

How else to explain the rise of Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter at the same time that the country denied their wrathful view of our middle-class nation at the polls?

Kmiec has it dead right. Not only is the withdrawal of the job offer "a betrayal of everything a great institution like the University of California represents," it is in a greater sense a denouncement of plurality in America.

At a stroke, UOC Irvine has aborted what was planned as a worthwhile addition to the schools of law. There is no law without fair mindedness and we have seen that struck down.



Jim Freeman's op-ed pieces and commentaries have appeared in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, International Herald-Tribune, CNN, The New York Review, The Jon Stewart Daily Show and a number of magazines. His thirteen published books are (more...)

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