Eastern Connecticut State University student Jayson Veley, 20, courageously recorded some partisan remarks made during a creative writing class by his professor, Brent Terry, which hit the Internet and quickly generated a furor reaching as far as the floor of the State House. Terry, in the belief he was lecturing before a friendly young (captive) audience who seek “financial equality,” suggested that colleges “will start closing up” if progressives do not return in force to the U.S. Senate during the next election. Once the audio file went viral, the university performed all the usual theater moves whenever contingencies such as this arise: the administration signaled its disappointment, the professor issued an apology, and the quaking spires of the Cathedral seemed to settle again.
Certainly, contemporary reports of progressive instructor bias are myriad. What is most interesting about the ECSU case is the angle from which the progressive media came to Terry’s defense: when they weren’t making fun of Jayson Veley’s hair, they focused intently on how Terry was not a full professor, but a part-time adjunct who presumably doesn’t make much money or have much long-term job security. This isn’t just about wallowing in victimhood to gain sympathy. Recall how Terry predicted that colleges would shut down—on the surface, he feigns concern about the fate of his students, speaking to them as their advocate, but beneath he defends his own wallet. In other words, it’s about the money. Shocking, I know.
Every human acts in his own economic self-interest—even progressives—and it’s a good thing (begging the forgiveness of Martha Stewart for appropriating her signature phrase, of course). What’s not so good is that progressives claim to be exempt from this reality. What’s worse is that progressives wield their power to restrict the ability of others to “pursue happiness.” During his lecture, Terry mentioned the year “1855” in his timeline of the “bad old days,” likely because the income tax and Federal Reserve System had not yet been invented. I’m sure Terry would miss such tools of extraction and inflation, but few freedom-loving Americans would. Perhaps instead of fixating on 1855, Terry might be better served by contemplating 1989—the fall of communism.
But don’t take my word for it: the Chronicle of Higher Education, the flagship publication catering to academics, once ran a piece proudly admitting that, yes, liberal arts professors tend to be more progressive than their business or STEM counterparts because…drumroll please…they get paid less and naturally seek a way to remedy the source of this economic inequality. If academia is essentially running its own version of “sweatshops,” though, who is to blame for this state of affairs? Don’t progressives control academia? Couldn’t they cast down their bucket where they stand and usher in a beta version of their Utopia?
When it comes to money, progressives behave like any other economic actor—they merely spin a different story about their motivations. Liberty activists would do well to hammer on this point and expose the progressive narrative of economic victimology for what it is: a self-perpetuating shakedown of the public coffers and a mis-allocation of parents’ and students’ hard-earned tuition dollars
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