Frank Lechner is a professor of sociology at Emory University. He did his undergraduate work in sociology at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, and then moved to the U.S. for his PhD. He’s the author of four books and two edited volumes—his most recent book is The American Exception, a book about American exceptionalism that covers several aspects of American life including religion, law, sports, and media. I invited him to the show in part to have a dialogue about a piece I published about asymmetric polarization. We also discussed a first-year seminar on conservatism that Frank taught in 2016. To my knowledge, that’s the first seminar of its kind at Emory.
I appreciate your comment about my “nonpartisan” teaching because in my day to day life, I try to depoliticize the work that I do. I don’t put my own views forward in a very strong manner. I prefer to create a space in which students can analyze arguments and evidence as honestly and as seriously as possible and to provide them with the tools and if necessary play the Devil’s advocate for whatever side needs my support and my articulation. And I think in my actual teaching I don’t take a strong political posture.
More generally, I occasionally I speak up on political issues, issues on campus so people are aware I have perhaps a slightly deviant point of view, a point of view that deviates from the orthodoxy that reigns on most college campuses. But at the same time, I don’t fight any Quixotic battles against the dominant culture.
The transcript will be released soon.