On Being a Happy Warrior

The good folks at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute fielded student questions for me recently about how to exist as a conservative at liberal universities, and the main point of the interview is that the most effective way to get under the skin of campus liberals is to be a happy warrior. Or just be happy, period. They really hate that. Here’s one excerpt from their “Office Hours” series:

What was the most important lesson you learned from your experience as the first visiting conservative scholar at one of the most liberal campuses in the country?
—Alaenna Bieganski, University of Wyoming

Hayward: Probably that being a ­“happy warrior” was the best way to unnerve campus leftists—that and having the confident attitude that even though I was badly outnumbered, they had more to fear from me than I did from them. Campus leftism tends to go so unchallenged that it’s easy to unnerve progressives. But you need to pick your battles carefully, because at a big public university, there’s simply too much nonsense to take it all on. Also, conservatives have a great inherent advantage at large liberal ­universities—we’re more open to different points of view and tend to be more capacious and genuinely “liberal” (in the right sense of that word) in our ­learning.

Just imagine if the master of Silliman College at Yale had laughed in the faces of the student mob. It is what they deserved, but would start a riot. Anyway, the interview is short: Read the whole thing.