This article offered an interesting high-level view of conservatism at Princeton. Its finest feature is its presentation of Professor Robby George as Princeton’s last great hope for conservative students. Beyond his tremendous instruction, Professor George was a source of sanity for me during my tenure at Princeton, and I feel deeply grateful for his example.
I think the current state of affairs at Princeton should worry alumni of all political persuasions because the campus climate is producing closed-mindedness and distrust amongst students.
In my first semester, one of my teachers told me after class that my presence often made them uncomfortable because I was a white male and a representative of the U.S. military — a force this teacher considered destructive to global peace. I actually liked this teacher despite our clear differences, and I respected the opinion even while being hurt by it. But as I continued my studies, I realized this episode wasn’t what I thought it was — something of an awkward miscommunication. Instead, it was perfectly emblematic of campus ideology.
I wasn’t especially political when I came to Princeton, but I left as a principled conservative. At least some of my political evolution was due to the devout fanaticism of my progressive classmates. These classmates of mine didn’t challenge my deeply held beliefs with well-reasoned arguments and win me to their way of thinking. They simply attempted to bully me in one way or another, something I always found incredibly fascinating considering I’m a combat veteran and was, on average, about six years older than the members of my graduating class.
The author notes that the ideological battlefield at Princeton might be an effective breeding ground for future leaders of the political right. Perhaps that’s correct. I certainly believe that Princeton sharpened my conservative beliefs and forced me to defend them more strongly than I ever thought I’d have to. However, I also think the political philosophies of a substantial number of Princeton graduates — those who just want to be left alone — will be the result of fear and coercion if the current social order doesn’t change. Princeton alumni should be aware that the tribalism and intolerance we all lament as disastrous to our country’s social fabric are alive and well on our own campus.