Robert T. Viscusi of Brooklyn College’s Ethyle R. Wolfe Institute, which received its initial funding when Richard M. Nixon was president, e-mailed an announcement that Professor Samir Chopra will lead a study group to discuss Professor Corey Robin’s Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin. The e-mail states that the seminar will prove that conservatism is a reaction against democracy, and it lumps John C. Calhoun with Ayn Rand. The discussion will be at taxpayer expense. The e-mail says, “Conservatives through history have defended power and privilege against freedom and equality.” Is this education or taxpayer-funded ideology?
Will Professors Viscusi and Chopra permit disagreement, or will disagreement constitute a lack of collegiality, a claim recently made at Brooklyn College? The e-mail does not indicate whether the democratic ideologies of Stalin and Mao will be used to illustrate Robin’s and Chopra’ commitment to freedom and democracy.