Well, we all say we do, but…
Grading papers today I across the following, “…’cabal, intrigue, and corruption,’ which, interestingly enough, are the three virtues embossed on the Clinton family coat of arms.” This, despite the instructions for the assignment including the admonition, “Do not write a partisan paper…I’m asking you to be an objective and fair analyst, “ot just another partisan bloviator.”
I get these types of things from conservatives occasionally, but I don’t get them from liberals. It’s not that liberals never think like that–in informal conversation I hear such things from them frequently enough–but that they seem to be able to discipline themselves better than Republicans when it comes to formal writing.
I once assigned students to analyze the ’04 election and explain the outcome, focusing either on why Bush won or why Kerry lost. On that one I also explicitly required a non-partisan approach, yet one student wrote about how terrible Kerry was, and focused on his flip-flopping, using as her sole example a comparison of something he’d said in the early ’70s to something he said during the campaign. She objected to her failing grade, insisting that I was just failing her for being conservative, and appealed the grade to the Academic Dean, who looked at the requirements for the paper and told her, “The professor’s right; you didn’t follow the directions.”
Maybe liberals do that, too. At Oregon I once had a student complain on evals that s/he was offended to have to read such conservative crap, in a class called “Problems in U.S. Politics,” in which my approach was to present both liberal and conservative views on particular problems. But even as narrow-minded as that was, the student avoided pure mindless partisanship in their paper (since none of the papers in that class went that route).
As I like to tell my students, the claim of liberal indoctrination in college is a myth, because there’s no way we can change their minds about their basic political views. But we can poke and prod and make them think a little bit harder about their ideology. But like religious faith, it’s amazing how many of them resist. They tend to claim its due to confidence, but it sure does have the outward appearance of fear.