Since when did being a liberal mean all this?
Let's get a couple of things straight. I'm a godless egalitarian liberal who distrusts big corporations and has a virulent hatred of Rupert Murdoch. So far, so good, right? I fit in quite well amongst the crunchy-granola ranks of fashionable liberals - perhaps, with my political compass score, I stand out from them a little:
In short, I'm a die-hard left-libertarian.
But now things get a little more problematic. You see, apart from being a perpetual doubter, I also like science very, very much - to the point where I'd like to be a physicist when I'm older. This already annoys some feminists - thankfully very few of them - who think that some of the most basic principles of science, such as scientific objectivity, are geared towards men. They're pretty much the reason why I self-identify as an egalitarian rather than a feminist.
It also seems to annoy members of the wider liberal community, who think that the scientific method and academia are the stomping-grounds, if you will, of privileged white males (as opposed to everyone else). Apparently, asking for rationality in a debate now counts as derailing it, as does producing statistics as evidence instead of relying on anecdotes.
As a (hopefully) future scientist, I can't tell you how much this pisses me off without devolving into swearing, growling and foaming at the mouth. Science may not always be right - in fact, it's constantly trying to prove itself wrong - but it has a better track record than anything else in the universe, thanks in large part to objectivity, separating emotions and logic, and the scientific method in general. Seeing them derided as the privilege of white males makes me furious, as does suggesting that academia is only for the privileged - it's dangerously anti-intellectual and also flat-out wrong.
A lot of people think that academia is a fusty old discipline practised chiefly by recluses and available to only a select few. That's pretty much the opposite of reality. I won't deny that social mobility is a real problem, as are racism and sexism, but I know that they can be overcome. I did it myself, going from a state school to winning a scholarship at a rather posh private school. (I may be one exceptional case, but it certainly puts a hole in the theory, doesn't it?)
I will say this now: academic openings are nonobvious. I have a problem with papers only being available to subscribed researchers, and I have a problem with people not being able to stroll into a national library and asking to research something. But once you actually worm your way into the academic world, it's one of the most vibrant, interesting and egalitarian places you'll ever find yourself in, a mixture of race, class and gender united only by a common interest in a topic - and even then they disagree! If people - no matter male or female, black or white, young or old - work hard, study, and enjoy their studies enough to do their own research, they'll find their place in academia. Not being a white male does not forbid one from using rationality and impartiality - which are not the tools of white males, they are the tools of science, which itself should not discriminate against anyone (except those who can't understand it). Nowhere in the academic world do they say that only privileged white males are entitled to work there - nowhere at all.
And this is why, despite being a die-hard liberal, I'm irritated - I've seen liberals, and far too many of them, who want to strip all this away and replace it with...what? I've no idea. Wasn't liberalism the brainchild of John Locke - an academic, and a dead white male at that, if ever I saw one - and didn't it come to the fore during the Enlightenment, which sought to use reason to reform society? Aren't liberals supposed to be able to understand complex ideas? Call me a conservative, a traditionalist if you will - though you'd be flatly disregarding the evidence - but I still believe that we should base our worldviews on reason and truth, a reason and truth best found through science and academia. I furthermore believe that they are open to anyone who tries hard enough, or at least they should be - and I believe that, while imperfect, they're the best we have.