Friday, 6 July 2007

Objectivist professor ousted by neoconservatives and evangelicals

Those of you who maintain that Ayn Rand's Objectivism is "right wing" or "conservative" might care to contemplate the ousting of Objectivist history professor by Ashland University, ousted says Lewis, by "mainstream evangelical christians" and "neoconservative faculty members [who] put pressure on the recently hired evangelical president to oust him." He was not sacked for incompetence, which he clearly isn't; he was forced out, he says, "because conservatives and evangelicals were opposed to me." [Hat tip Mike M.]

Objectivists are shot by both sides. As some of you might recall from previous blogging here, Lewis recently delivered a controversial paper at Virginia's George Mason University, 'There is No Substitute For Victory,' that had leftists and muslims up in arms. [A link page to that presentation is here. And here, just to remind you, is his fantastic article on the same topic.]
Mr. Lewis says his battles reflect the extraordinary and unfair degree of hostility that objectivists in academe receive from both left and right. "In the morning at Ashland, I was resigning because conservatives and evangelicals were opposed to me," he says. "And then in the evening I was at George Mason, and there were some Muslims and this new student Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) opposed to me. I found that poignant."
The story is here at the Chronicle for Higher Education: Tenure Shrugged: A Scholar's Affinity for the Philosophy of Ayn Rand Cost Him His Job. Many Objectivists are also suggesting that this is further evidence for their assertion that the biggest threat to liberty in the US comes not from the left, but from the religious right.
"What does determine the survival of [America]," says Leonard Peikoff, "is not political concretes, but fundamental philosophy. And in this area the only real threat to the country now, the only political evil comparable to or even greater than the threat once posed by Soviet Communism, is religion and the Party which is its home and sponsor."
Makes you think, doesn't it.


  1. Robert Winefield6 Jul 2007, 11:58:00


    Ashland University was founded privately by the Brethren Church. It doesn't surprise me that the people who pay for this private (or as private as Universities get in the USA) University are willing to deny tenue to a strident atheist.

    "Ashland has had a commitment to Judeo-Christian values since its founding 128 years ago," he said. "In our faculty rules and regulations, and even in our bylaws, we talk about having a faculty committed to Judeo-Christian values. We don't require faculty to be specifically of Judeo-Christian persuasion, but we do require faculty to support the mission."

    If Lewis had secured a job at the Vatican, would there be a stink when he got laid off for not supporting christianity?

    It's not like he couldn't have forseen the problem: the issue is spelled out on Ashland's home page:

    It's a pretty long bow to draw to say that this is an example of how radical-christians are taking over America. Or are you suggesting that Christians shouldn't be allowed a say in what their money is spent on?

  2. Robert, christians were NOT spending their money on either Brad Thompson or John Lewis. Their employment was funded by a grant from the Anthem Foundation. A copy of the final Letter of Understanding provided to The Chronicle by the Anthem Foundation states: "The primary purpose of the fellowship is to fund release time so that Professors Thompson and Lewis can pursue research and writing on Ayn Rand's philosophy of objectivism."

  3. Robert Winefield6 Jul 2007, 12:53:00

    Their employment? At a US university that means that part or all of their salary is paid for by the grant - a grant that may be transferable. The tenured position and the offer of office space and access to University funded equipment, space and such are supplied at the Uni's say so.

    Untenured staff in the US are the contract labourers of the higher education system. And once they get Tenure the University is obliged to pay their salary & expenses or part thereof whether they win funding or not.

    So whilst I may have been wrong with the tense, the guts of my argument still applies.

    Show me that Ashland operates differently and I'll happily concede the point. But that's how it works at KU and that's the reason why (in general) untenured faculty work harder than tenured faculty.

  4. Ashland was founded by Christians, but it is still a mainstream liberal arts school. It isn't like Jerry Falwell's university.

    Anyway, I see you've entered discussion on this over at Mike's SOLO blog, so perhaps interested readers could join you over there.

  5. "Ashland University is a mid-sized regional teaching university, historically related to the Brethren Church."

    Wow, an objectivist professor didn't fit in at a private Breathren college. Come on!!
    This isn't evidence of anything except a private institution exercising its discretion... or would you prefer legal protection of objectivist professors who CHOOSE to work at fringe chrisian colleges in the first place!

  6. Yes....this ARI chap is in the wrong what's new?

    And not a word about his call for mass genocide in Iran....Rand would scream.


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