An Interview With Mike Adams
Mike Adams is a criminology professor at UNC Wilmington and one of the most popular columnists at Townhall. I got together with him last week for an interview and what follows is the slightly edited transcript of our conversation.
Now you’re a university professor, a very conservative one. Why do there seem to be so few conservative university professors? It’s a basic question I think a lot of people wonder about.
Well, they have had control of academia probably for about 50 years. You know, God and Man at Yale was written by William F. Buckley in the early 1950s — and at this particular point in academia, conservatives are kept out simply by virtue of the fact that liberals dominate the environment and engage in hiring discrimination.
…But that really doesn’t explain how it came about in the first place. I’ve always argued that people who have a socialist mindset are really attracted to the idea of academia because you can, as a matter of fact, go and work hard for five years and get tenure and then not work hard for the next 25 years once you’ve gotten it.
….And I’ve always had the belief that people who are attracted to socialism are lazy by nature because they believe that average is a net gain for them. I think that’s why they might opt for the academic environment that offers tenure and job security without a heck of a lot of competition.
What…what would you think about dumping tenure in the university?
I’m actually one of those who is without question in favor of getting rid of the tenure system even though I have it. People say, “Well, gosh, you know, if you got rid of tenure then you wouldn’t have academic freedom.” Well, the fact of the matter is that we don’t have academic freedom right now.
We have without question one of the most narrow-minded realms of American society in higher education and if it’s not working at all, we have to consider dumping it because of all of the bad that it produces.
One of the bad things that it produces is that people become lazy after they get tenure and they become inaccessible with their students and certainly their productivity on average declines. So, I think it’s a very bad idea to continue tenure. Even though I have it, I have to be honest with you; I’m flatly opposed to it.
Now do you think Republicans and state legislators should start using the power of the purse to ensure that Republican groups in public universities get fair treatment?
Oh, there is no question about it. That’s one of the things that really, really irritates the Left. When you start to talk about David Horowitz and everything that he is doing on college campuses….
Yeah, it really is…the objection that the Left has come up with really isn’t one that’s based in principle. It’s motivated by greed. They say, “We don’t want the legislatures to be involved in any way in academia,” but, of course, when they need money for a research project where do they go? In my view, they can’t have it both ways. One of the reasons why this suggestion of yours appeals to me so much is simply because it would so badly irritate the Left. I’ve got to be honest with you, John, I just enjoy that.
Don’t we all? All good-hearted people love that.
We do, we do.
Conservative speakers are invited to college campuses far less often than liberals and when they arrive, many times they’re shouted down, have food thrown at them and are stopped from giving speeches. Generally the people who do that are given a slap on the wrist if anything at all. What would happen if college Republicans started using the exact same tactics against the Left?
Well, you know, I think we should not do that because we want the Left’s ideas to get out there. It was John Stuart Mill who once said that censorship is wrong for two reasons. Number one, it’s wrong because it might deprive people of the truth, but there is a second reason it’s bad. It’s bad and it’s wrong because it might deprive people of the greater appreciation of the truth via its (relation to) falsity. So we definitely want to allow them to speak.
The way that we level the playing field is by insisting that the police do their jobs. There is going to be a great YouTube video coming out with me in it this week (Hawkins’ note: It doesn’t seem to be up yet). It showed a scene that occurred up at the University of Massachusetts. For many speeches, the college Republicans had been forced to pay for security, but when people started to scream and shout and interrupt the speeches the paid police officers wouldn’t do their job. I actually yelled when the protestors were shouting at me. I not only yelled back, but I yelled at the police officers and demanded that they physically drag the people out. We had two people arrested and that was the end of the problem. It’s going to be very funny when you see it, by the way.
That’s the one you wrote a column about, right?
No, this is a forthcoming column. This one actually hasn’t come out yet.
I’m looking forward to that one. One of the things I do like about your columns is that you’re unapologetic. Why do you think so many conservatives talk like they’re walking on eggshells and are afraid of offending anybody, especially the liberals that are trying to take our heads off?
Well, I think we’re learning. I think other people like Ann Coulter are setting a pretty good example. I’ve been critical of Ann in a couple of columns and I think with good cause — but, I think that she’s got one thing very, very right and that is that you never have anything to gain from apologizing to a liberal because they’ll always use your words against you. They’re not principled individuals. They don’t really believe in any kind of principles and we simply have to begin to band together and to understand that as they become more arrogant and obnoxious and brazen and use terms like “racism” and “sexism” and “homophobia” over and over and over again.
Those words will eventually lose their meaning and it’s going to become easier for us to speak out in the future as they overuse these terms and the public becomes desensitized. So, I think we just have to hit that tipping point where people realize in a simple, rational calculus that they have more to gain than they do to lose.
I think the power of words like “racism” and “sexism” and “homophobia” to control people’s behavior is beginning to dissipate. I think if we look at the recent Perez Hilton/Carrie Prejean incident, you’ll see a little bit of what I’m talking about. The tide is beginning to turn and people will become emboldened by that.
Outstanding, now a related question — and this is something I’ve sort of wondered about. You’re a pretty socially conservative guy. I think I have gotten to be a fairly socially conservative guy; however, I don’t see a lot of socially conservative people who write about it in their columns. I don’t see a lot of socially conservative bloggers who sort of write about it. I find that interesting because there are so many socially conservative people out there — but percentage wise, they seem to be very underrepresented in the columnists, bloggers; any thoughts on that?
I’ve never really thought about that — but, I do have a more general statement about this notion of the social conservative and the libertarian conservative. We need to be very careful that we don’t divide ourselves. We need to make sure that we find issues over which we can unite.
We need to begin with the economy right now. Since that’s really the big issue in America we’ve got something to bring us together — but, we need to be very cautious, I think, on the issue of abortion. A lot of people believe that the social conservatives are dragging down the party because of their hardline stance on the issue of abortion.
I think we need to be heartened by the fact that a recent poll indicated for the first time in history since Roe vs. Wade, a clear majority of Americans consider themselves to be pro-life. The reason for that is we have a whole generation of young people who grew up in the age of ultrasound technology. So, I believe that we need to make sure that we hold onto the life issue and persuade the libertarian conservatives that being pro-life is actually a libertarian perspective. When an individual exercises the one choice to have an abortion, it negates the tens of thousands of decisions that other human beings would have made in a lifetime. In other words abortion is a net loss for choice. So from either perspective, the social conservative perspective or the libertarian perspective, life is the way to go. Pragmatically speaking, we can’t turn away from issues where we’re beginning to get a clear majority.
Last question, Mike: if in a rather and improbable, yet smart maneuver, the leadership of the Republican Party, Steele, Boehner, McConnell, et cetera got together, called you and said, “Mike, what do we need to do to win again?” — what would you tell them?
Well, probably they need to run me for the United States Senate — but at any rate, all selfish concerns aside, what do we need to do to win again? I really think we need to understand that the economy is the principle issue. We need to absolutely run on fiscal responsibility and I think if you are sort of asking me, “Hey, is there one issue out there on which we can lean?” — I’ve got to be honest with you — and Hugh Hewitt will disagree with me — but, I believe it’s the fair tax.
If we begin to capitalize on the enormous hatred that there is out there towards the IRS with a radical, new, bold plan like the fair tax, then I think that we would be unstoppable in the next election cycle because I honestly and sincerely believe that we would get the old Reagan Democrats back and we’d have them back permanently.
…That’s it, Mike. I really appreciate your time…