Facing South

Down and Out on the Right

One would think that with the conservative right controlling the White House, Congress, and the Judiciary; holding 29 governorships; and having the ideological allegiance of most of corporate America, they would feel in pretty good shape.

But alas, they don't feel victorious -- they feel besieged. From today's St. Peterburg Times, we learn this pitiful tale of oppression and woe from Florida:

TALLAHASSEE - From his seat on a key education committee, Rep. Dennis Baxley helps shape the budget of every public university in Florida.

But when he appeared Thursday before the state's university presidents, Baxley portrayed himself as a victim.

"I have not come with a set of demands," he said in a soft voice. "I have come with a burden."

The Ocala Republican told the presidents he has been humiliated for his conservative views. He showed them a cartoon published in the University of Florida student newspaper that depicted a naked Baxley crawling behind a monkey in the evolutionary chain.

What? Free thinking and political dissent on a college campus? Things have clearly gotten out of hand, and Baxley wants the Florida university system to do something about it -- specifically, listen to that model of rational thought and fair-mindedness, David Horowitz:

Baxley's request: Protect conservatives like him from ridicule by the "liberal elite" on Florida campuses.

Baxley's bill has become a part of a national debate over whether university faculties are hotbeds of radicalism. Before filing his bill, Baxley consulted conservative activist David Horowitz, who is pushing similar legislation in other states.

The notion that campuses are hotbeds of bomb-throwing students and "tenured radicals" -- a tired recycling of the "political correctness" scare of the early 1990s -- is, of course, a bit out of touch with reality. Universities and colleges only look left-wing because the rest of the culture has moved so far to the right, and they're one of the few places where balance still exists (and where progressives can still express their views on the job).

Florida's leaders of higher education seem to sense this. As the story notes, "The presidents nodded politely, but didn't agree to do anything specific."

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