Conservative economist Thomas Sowell once wrote: “People are never more sincere than when they assume their own superiority.” I could not have said it better. Having spent 36 years in that bastion of presumed superiority—higher education—I am accustomed to people who simply assume they are superior, and then act accordingly. I once debated a fellow professor whose academic background was philosophy. My field was business. He was decrying the fact that so many college students now choose to pursue degrees in professional fields such as engineering or business rather than the traditional liberal arts (i.e. Humanities, Philosophy, and Art). This professor wore his presumed intellectual superiority like a badge of honor and virtually dripped righteous indignation as he spoke.
After listening to my snooty colleague repeatedly refer to business majors as “baby capitalists” and engineering majors as “glorified auto mechanics,” I interrupted and asked him two questions: 1) What is wrong with capitalists and auto mechanics? and 2) Next time your car breaks down, why don’t you call a philosopher? The audience enjoyed the intended humor in my questions and laughed accordingly. But my colleague was greatly offended that someone would dare question his obvious superiority. He responded that I was “stupid” and stomped off the stage in a huff.
This debate took place in an academic environment where righteous indignation permeates the very bricks and mortar. College professors and their liberal counterparts outside of the academy are what Thomas Sowell once referred to as the “perpetually indignant.” When liberals cannot rebut conservative ideas with logic or reason, they simply brush them aside and call them “stupid” or “unworthy.” When a conservative gets under their skin with an argument based on those inconvenient little things known as facts, liberals quickly resort to name calling. For example, make a cogent, well-reasoned argument against any of President Obama’s misguided economic policies and see how long it takes before liberals call you a “racist.”
In discussions and debates, liberals seldom attempt to explain themselves or to offer more viable ideas. To liberals who are blindly invested in their own intellectual and moral superiority, explanations are not necessary. To them, the viability of leftist opinions should be self-evident, a convenient defense for those who cannot justify their opinions on the basis of logic, reason, or facts. This is why colleges and universities are such comfortable places for liberals.
On most college campuses in America, liberals know they are among like-minded colleagues who share the same presuppositions. By associating exclusively with fellow travelers, liberal professors eliminate the inconvenience of having to defend their opinions. Hence, they quickly become intellectually flabby. On the typical college campus in America a conservative is about as welcome as a roach in the punch bowl, and a business leader is welcome only if he is there to make a substantial donation. In this type of environment a liberal is free to pontificate without any fear of being challenged by logic, reason, or facts.
In his book, The Thomas Sowell Reader, Sowell summed up the left’s presumed superiority in these words: “It would never occur to people with academic degrees and professorships that they are both ignorant and incompetent in vast areas of human life, much less that they should keep that in mind before they vent their emotions and wax self-righteous. Degrees show that you have knowledge in some special area. Too often they embolden people to pontificate on a wide range of subjects where they don’t know what they are talking about.”
As he typically does, Sowell hit the nail on the head. He too has spent years in an academic environment surrounded by intellectual elites who believe so fervently in their own superiority that they brush aside conservative arguments like annoying flies at a picnic. To his credit, Sowell never dons the armor of presumed superiority. He does not need to because, although in a league of his own compared with most professors, Sowell’s arguments are always backed by logic, reason, and facts. Unlike liberals, Sowell knows that it is his logic, reason, and facts that must be superior. There is a lesson here that liberals would do well to learn.