Professor Mike Adams (University of North Carolina, Wilmington) has died. I wrote this piece about his death and why conservatives should treat it as a clarion call.
We need substantial action plans now. Below are the texts of four articles I wrote on American Thinker on education. There are a lot of solid points here.
August 1, 2016
Trump Should Push for Abolition of Tenure
Trump has a huge opening on higher education. He can build on some of the strong ideas his surrogates have put forth (see this piece in Inside Higher Ed) by taking on an obvious target: tenure.
Conservative purists have already attacked Donald J. Trump for not being a true Republican and for really supporting big government. He has nothing to gain by neglecting the constitutional powers available to the president, and there is a strong regulatory basis for federal action to phase out university tenure. One could do this fairly easily by legislating that colleges must not have dual tracks of tenured and non-tenured faculty if they want federal support.
If You’re on the Public Dime, You Are Held to a Public Standard
Taxation and the misuse of citizens’ compulsory donations to the state were central issues – perhaps the main issue – in the American Revolution. First on the list of grievances in the Declaration of Independence is that King George III “refused to assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.” You cannot take citizens’ money from them and then spend it on endeavors that benefit nobody, one individual, or only a selected group of people. The public good can be abstract – for instance, promoting refinement in art or language – but it cannot be restrictive or exclusionary.
At this point, there is no meaningful distinction between public and private non-profit universities, since both are financially propped up by the federal government via 501(c)(3) tax exemptions, federally backed student loans, and government grants, without which even the mighty Harvard and Stanford would buckle. All these arrangements fall under the purview of Congress under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. First, there’s this:
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow Money on the credit of the United States …
And more generally on the topic of advancing knowledge and intellectual flourishing, this:
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries …
In Article I, Section 9, federal funds cannot create a government-backed aristocracy, the very thing that the Founding Fathers were seeking to overthrow. Remember this consideration:
No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time. No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
Trillions of dollars cannot be thrown at little cliques of power-mongering social climbers to create a passive-aggressive ruling class. It is the constitutional duty of the federal government to prevent such waste and abuse.
The Constitution Protects Citizens from Elitists
Tenure serves no function and turns institutions into clumsy and ineffectual hotbeds of nepotism. About half of college professors are contingent faculty and not on any tenure track; these people teach a majority of classes. Research from Northwestern shows that students learn more from non-tenure track faculty than from people on the track.
Where there is tenure, there is a costly brain drain and a host of double standards. One set of rules exists for the lucky intellectuals who have a shot at a sinecure. Another set addresses the masses of locally hired “adjuncts,” who are treated like goat dung. Think of the financial and logistical implications. When a tenure track position opens, universities recruit nationally through a costly process that ends up dragging “probationary” scholars (the hot new ABD at Big Shot U) from cities where they have studied and established themselves to locales where their only social connections are tied to a school that’s carefully watching them to see if they pass ideological muster.
Tenure is the pinnacle of inequality. While universities are often derided as hotbeds of identity politics, they do an awful job at promoting racial equality. Blacks and Latinos make up 30% of the U.S. population but only 7% of tenured full professors, according to research by Jon Shields. As someone who doesn’t like affirmative action, I do not want to see quotas, but on the other hand, I also know that the underrepresentation is not purely incidental; it is the result of widespread and vicious racism even from academics who pretend, in public, to be the polar opposite of prejudiced.
Tenure-based higher education also cannot claim to have been responsible for countering class inequality. Much research shows that the strictly tiered nature of colleges widens the gap between rich and poor. The system allows power and prestige to be hoarded at specific campuses like Harvard’s or Yale’s.
Meanwhile, students who leave for college are told they have to go somewhere prestigious if they want the best outcome. They borrow lavishly to cover their living expenses as they spend years in a city removed from their family and in need of housing, food, utilities, and amenities that they cannot pay for because they are busy studying. Their classes are taught either by stressed out scholars clawing for tenure or overworked adjuncts who have no incentive to teach them anything, or pompous bigwigs who have gotten tenure and have no incentive to behave remotely like civil human beings. They will blow all their money on spring break anyway. Besides the student paying rent to live on a campus somewhere pricey when they could just as easily have lived rent-free in Mom’s attic back in Springfield, the student’s family also has to fork over the tuition necessary for these self-proclaimed Cordova campuses to be the “internationally recognized” centers of learning with the world’s best and brightest, which they earmark a fortune for marketers to convince prospective parents they are. A high tuition tag is endemic and unavoidable with this model.
It is an impecunious and clumsy task to shuffle so many people from place to place so that places like Dartmouth can be oases of wealth and prestige in far-flung haunts surrounded by snickering townies. There is no reason for it when the vast majority of these students could have just gotten an associate’s degree from their local community colleges and walked away with a practical trade, and then, should they feel moved, transfer with their associate’s degrees to a liberal arts college for another two years.
We have now learned from a string of polarizing presidents who attended Yale or Harvard that elite schools do not produce people who are particularly effective or knowledgeable at anything. We know by now that going to Harvard does not make a president any better than the average person at preventing Iran from getting a nuclear bomb. And as for the maudlin claims that education should nourish the soul, there is little evidence that people who take Shakespeare from Harold Bloom as opposed to a thirty-two-year-old literature scholar who lives down the street makes anyone a kinder, gentler, more loving, more understanding, or more productive human being.
So let’s stop. Stop giving public money to universities that engage in tenure.
Tenure Degrades Our Character
Recall Nietzsche’s mockery in Genealogy of Morals: “What right have people to make such a fuss about their little failings, like these pious little men do?” These lines muse about the perennial lesson humans learn: coteries of like-minded snobs turn into truly oppressive forces that threaten freedom. A century prior to Nietzsche’s diagnosis, in the French Revolution, the “Third Estate” of the masses revolted against the First and Second Estates, the nobility and the priesthood, who were seen as jointly and mutually corrupted.
In the days of James Madison and John Jay, the percentage of Americans with advanced degrees, other than those trained for the clergy in seminaries, was so minuscule that it would not have even registered as a major concern. Unlike the 27.5% of the adult population with a bachelor’s degree in 2010, there were so few chummy whippersnappers in the eighteenth century that they weren’t even really “a thing,” as my students like to say.
In Notes on the State of Virginia (1784), Thomas Jefferson was boldly proposing a revolutionary idea: county school districts in which “every person in it [is] entitled to send their children three years gratis, and as much longer as they please, paying for it.” Jefferson was convinced that voting citizens in a democracy needed to know “reading, writing, and arithmetic” enough to fill a whopping three years on the government dime.
As for people sent for further schooling, Jefferson states that every year, twenty students in each district should be “raked from the rubbish” based on their outstanding promise and sent for more schooling. Of those, he saw fit to recommend that ten annually should be sent for three years of schooling at a college like William and Mary.
Later, Thomas Jefferson would go on to found the University of Virginia, today home to 21,238 students, only one of 5,300 institutions of higher learning. There’s a whole lot more “rubbish” to rake, and the raking is shockingly costly and unequal. Also, one has trouble seeing how anybody has been raked from anything when Jefferson’s cherished public college has gained its most recent notoriety for a rape hoax in Rolling Stone and a nightmarish vortex of lawsuits.
The Mother of All Higher Ed Problems Is Tenure
Irrespective of the usual talking points (see AAUP’s typical claim that tenure protects academic freedom and fosters better research), there is copious and insurmountable evidence of tenure’s economic wastefulness, proneness to political corruption, hostility to academic freedom, and capacity to nurture weak and even absurd research like “the Pilates Pelvis: Racial Implications” and “Hobosexual – resisting capitalism by having not-for-profit sex with homeless people.”
In Jephthah’s Daughters: Innocent Casualties in the War for Family Equality, my co-writers and I identified the twelve deadliest weapons used by the neo-liberal left against the traditional religious family: fraud, lies, scorn, shamelessness, faithlessness, hypocrisy, pedantry, deflections, demagoguery, McCarthyism, inhumanities, and “the siren song.” The chapters on “pedantry” and “inhumanities” lay out in extensive detail how the tenure system created an elite that thrives on propagating the very economic crisis it claimed to be defending the poor against, and then deflected all attention away from class and race to the esoteric and comparatively harmless issue of sexual orientation.
Universities have gone haywire on so many levels that it is difficult for anyone, Democrat or Republican, to pull together all the crises in one relatable message. Everyone seems to know that college costs too much, student loan debts are at crisis levels, graduates are not given the life improvements they were promised, and the elitism in the system has passed a threshold of justifiability.
The parties diverge in other areas. The Democrats are keenly aware that average families like mine (father of two with lots of tuition worries here!) find higher education the scariest part of planning their future; Republicans too often dismiss this with Laura Ingraham’s anecdotes about how you have to pick a lot of blueberries to get ahead in life. The Republicans are keenly aware that political bias and exclusion of non-liberal ideas are undermining scholarship, nurturing a generation of “crybullies,” and trampling religious liberty and the First Amendment. Confronted with evidence of liberal bias, Democrats stick their fingers in their ears and accuse a Christian somewhere of homophobia.
Donald Trump’s appeal to working-class voters and the ignominious exit by Bernie Sanders leave Trump with the unique chance to bring together these worries in one relatable and effective message. Without doing anything about forcing down the actual price tags on tuition, Sanders just promised to make all of college free, which is crazy. Here Donald can get ahead of the pack by speaking the unspeakable. To solve all these problems, you have to eliminate tenure, which makes universities more expensive, less efficient, and more biased.
With the possible exception of folks like Scott Walker, Republican leaders have shied away from critiquing tenure because they are often beholden to the college cliques just as much as liberals are, and they do not want to irritate the mentors who launched them. Having been denounced by conservative professors as the anti-Christ, Donald Trump is free to alienate eggheads on all sides of the political spectrum.
So why not? I’m begging you, Donald – come out against tenure.
January 2, 2017
Academia’s Broken, so Why Defend Academic Freedom?
Here we go again. Debates about academic freedom and political bias at colleges are as hot and outrageous as ever. Consider five recent farragoes.
First in Oregon, there is the case of a professor, Nancy Shurtz, being disciplined harshly for wearing blackface at a party, to which students were invited.
Second, in Ohio, assistant professor Joy Karega was dismissed after a long controversy about her inflammatory statements about white males and influential Jewish people on social media.
Third, in New York City, associate professor Matthew Lasner was mobbed after he and his homosexual partner heckled Ivanka Trump on an airplane. Bloggers figured out who his employer was, Hunter College, and lobbied the president there to fire him.
Fourth, in Pennsylvania, George Ciccariello-Maher tweeted, “all I want for Christmas is White Genocide.” He is an associate professor at Drexel University. Public complaints have prompted the administration to arrange a meeting with him (usually the prelude to a formal reprimand).
Fifth, in the nation’s capital, C. Christine Fair, a professor in peace studies at Georgetown, is coming under fire and finds herself in a complex investigation because she hurled profanity and vileness at a Muslim woman who voted for Trump on Twitter and Facebook.
As these five controversies converged in a perfect storm of “academic freedom” controversies, part of me still felt loyal to academia. I had written a long letter (which I still stand by) in defense of Anthony Esolen at Providence College, so I was feeling a little nostalgic for the old view of college as a place to learn about ideas and be exposed to many perspectives. I signed a petition defending one of these professors’ academic freedom.
The response to my comment on the petition was more of what has always made me abhor the left. Try to build bridges to them, and they punish you for it. The history of my disastrous attempt to engage Prof. Potter on the Chronicle of Higher Education is symptomatic of the left’s longstanding history of taking kind gestures from conservatives as a sign that such conservatives are weak. Rather than say, “Wow, what a great chance to speak across party lines,” lefties usually perceive an invitation to shame you publicly, using anything you say against you.
On the recent petition’s discussion threads, the gist was, “how dare you as a conservative defend a liberal’s academic freedom – as if you have some common cause here? You don’t deserve freedom. You are a bigot!”
One year ago, I would have called myself a staunch believer in academic freedom – a free speech purist. I was a tenured professor in California and appreciated the help extended to me by FIRE and other advocacy groups.
Now things look very different to me. A recent podcast helped me sort through things. It was with Brittany Klein, my friend who lost work as an adjunct. Academic freedom, I have come to believe, is not a virtue in its own right. The false view of it as an absolute good is an outgrowth of the United States’ corrupted tenure system. Tenure gives no protection to adjunct faculty who teach most classes, then handpicks a small number of people to tenure, who are usually chosen because they hold views favorable to their reviewers.
Higher education is not a swamp to be drained. It is a diabolical machine, and it is time to pull the plug. Rather than fight over individual cases of tenure-track professors facing blowback over things they say, we should move decisively after Trump’s inauguration to starve academia. If Trump is looking to save a trillion dollars to pay for infrastructure, he should find this money by radically transforming America and shutting down higher education as we know it.
Liberal arts training is accomplishing nothing. Colleges have become a political racket whereby Democrats fork endless cash to tuition extortionists, and lousy scholars impart insane ideas to debt-strapped students who are made dysfunctional citizens in the process.
Let’s stop arguing over whether this or that offensive professor deserves to keep his or her job. Cut off the money to colleges, let higher education grapple with massive layoffs, force the public to see the value of associate’s degrees, and end the cycle of inflationary tuition and ruinous debt. Arguments about academic freedom function as a luxurious distraction from intractable problems.
How did I have such a radical change of heart?
My journey through academia, going back to the 1990s, was crazy. I supported socially conservative views. When people on my campus retaliated, I took my situation to the press, which made more enemies on campus and escalated a cycle of my attacks and the university’s counterattacks.
For two decades, I had set tenure as the keystone around which I expected my whole life to be built. As a result, I accepted, unchallenged, the academy’s standard beliefs that tenure is necessary to protect free speech for professors, and that free speech is a good thing.
I hate to use the term “epiphany,” but I had one that took me by surprise in the spring of 2016. Everything I had written, I stood by – but I realized that it was not sensible for me to cling to tenure. It did not even make sense for me to remain at that job.
I was guilty of the age-old sin of pride, placing faith in a human tradition rather than in God. For eight years I’d expressed myself and been a force for good in a handful of students’ lives. But unfortunately, I was letting fear of change keep me in a bitter life situation. On this existential matter, Jesus did not remain silent. He told his disciples, “Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without His consent[.] … So do not be afraid therefore; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31).
Staying in a bad job is not only self-harming, but also disrespectful to God, who promises His believers that their needs will be met with faith. The decadent liberal institution – the university tenure system – was unfortunately paying my salary. This doomed situation was not only poisoning me, but also hampering the people I loved most.
My two young children and my stay-at-home wife were being housed, fed, and supported by money coming ultimately from California State University, an institution I’d described as degenerate in hundreds of columns.
Is one accomplishing anything by railing endlessly against the very source of one’s livelihood? There are many secular leftists who romanticize this intellectual contradiction as heroic, like Columbia students in 1968 taking over campus buildings to protest the inequity of a system that was bound to give them unequal privileges. But the longest chapter of my book Jephthah’s Daughters Is about the insanity of elite academics feigning solidarity with Occupy Wall Street in 2011. My own scholarship begged me to rectify the clash between my ideals and my workplace.
As a conservative Baptist, I see that the Book of Proverbs is hard to dismiss. Solomon states, “Ill-gotten gains do not profit anyone” (Proverbs 10:2), “Wealth obtained by fraud will dwindle” (Proverbs 13:11), “There is profit in all hard work but endless talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23), and “The one who profits dishonestly troubles his household” (Proverbs 15:27).
I could not run to the right-wing press begging for support forever. It was time to leave, even if it meant I was letting mean people drive me out. So I left. I moved my family from California to a red state and started a new life. I do not have tenure, and I live with the understanding that I will have to be diplomatic or jeopardize my livelihood. The end result is that I chose a job I believe in, and I trust in God’s promise. I have to behave myself and look both ways before crossing the street. I am a better Christian for it.
Lasner, Ciccariello-Maher, Fair, Shurtz, and Karega deserve our prayers. While I do not see my views as comparable to theirs in offensiveness, they are in situations not entirely dissimilar to where I was. They hold strong views that conflict irreconcilably with the nature of a system based on university tenure. In all likelihood, the greatest thing for them might be to let go and enjoy the freedom and stress everyone else in America endures. The vast majority of humanity does not have tenure. And that is a good thing.
December 11, 2017
The Time Has Come: Higher Ed-a-geddon
Last summer, my essay for Dissident Prof prompted a challenge from Julie Ponzi, who suggested I write a brief essay with proposals of what to change about academia. I waited several months, and now I have my proposals. I mentioned most of these in Wackos Thugs & Perverts: Clintonian Decadence in Academia, which I published with MassResistance in February 2017. They are also in earlier writings such as Colorful Conservative.
My plan involves a sixfold apocalypse. Yes, apocalypse.
The best starting point is total depravity. Higher education as we know it is indefensible. It presumes a false model of human development. People between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two cannot be trusted moving to a campus away from their parents, protected from any real consequences for stupid decisions, and taught random concepts by a professoriate anesthetized by the tenure system.
In reality, these four years of human development should be spent in conditions closer to basic combat training: they need physical regimentation. Swift punishments must impress upon them the costs of behaving foolishly. Their sexuality needs to be heavily circumscribed. Between eighteen and twenty-two, women need to be closely protected from rape. Men need guidance to transform themselves from impulsive sex maniacs into responsible providers and decent fathers.
The wasteful use of young adulthood for 40% of the American adult population is catastrophic. Overpriced tuitions force a large chunk of family savings into an inefficient economic sector (“higher education”), meaning that their money cannot go into productive industries. Youths are not being trained for citizenship. Instead of courting, marrying, and starting families in their prime, they accustom themselves to promiscuity, irresponsible thrills, and single lives burdened with debt. They have late – and few – children, whom they are ill equipped to raise.
In certain contexts, it is wise to burn the edges of a dry forest rather than let a wildfire rage at a time and in a manner out of our control. I suggest the following concrete steps, via congressional action.
Cut all federal financial favors to colleges that do not adhere to a strict, revised standard for higher education and its obligation to the public good. By “favors,” we mean direct subsidies plus tax exemptions and deductions (such as on endowments, gifts, and waivers), as well as any backing of student loans at rates below market interest. These remaining favors would all hinge upon their suitability to “the public good.” Accreditation for new programs must be streamlined. They must favor all of society rather than one institution, one individual, or one class of people. Here would be the conditions:
1. An associate’s degree or certificate precedes a bachelor’s degree. In other words, nobody can enroll in a liberal arts program without first doing one to two years learning a practical trade. By “trade” we mean plumbing, bookkeeping, culinary arts, sewing, computer repair, etc. I count church ministries in this, which would cover seminaries.
2. No non-religious post-secondary institution should have any department or program that excludes a political perspective. There should not be feminist studies, queer studies, ethnic studies, or sustainability studies. Title IX went haywire because gender studies faculty acted as investigators and faculty simultaneously – an example of how an entire campus is damaged by the existence of these departments. Such material should be taught within generally accepted disciplines like English, biology, political science, etc.
3. Congress needs to earmark funds for a unit under the Department of Justice devoted to an academic version of RICO (the Racketeering, Influencing & Corrupt Organizations Act). An institution claiming to be for the public good should not strive to influence an election – especially with the potential to profit financially from the favors of the elected officials. For instance, the dean who took many adverse actions against me was part of the Clinton Global Initiative. This is a serious conflict of interest and should be investigated.
4. Congress needs to earmark funds for a unit under the Department of Labor to review schools that receive federal favors. The peer review, publishing, retention, and promotion system within higher education is arguably the worst of any industry. Schools that receive federal favors should not violate basic transparency and fairness standards.
5. No schools that receive federal funding should have tenure. Tenure does not protect academic freedom. Tenured faculty know they will be parked in the same institution for decades and are by far the people least willing to jeopardize collegial relationships in order to take a stand. The tenure system can exist only on the backs of adjunct labor, whose conditions are atrocious. Tenured faculty waste resources teaching few students and spending too much time on “research.” Their “service” refers to busywork on committees nobody needs. Nobody should be a professor if he cannot carry out research and teach a normal load of four classes per semester. So colleges choose: eliminate tenure or lose funds.
6. Colleges that charge expensive tuitions should be deprived of federal favors. They should be taxed at the rates we apply to any rich corporation. Many schools simultaneously charge high tuitions, have huge endowments, and then get large grants, all the while maintaining a tiny rank of tenured faculty and loading up their classrooms with adjuncts. This has to stop. It hurts learning and scholarship. There must be a massive trimming of school budgets. Personally, I contend that there should be no dormitories, student associations, duplicative student services, investigative offices, compliance officers, cultural programs, or anything that adds to tuition or fees. Colleges should be buildings where people come to take classes and study, then go back to their communities where they continue their emotional development with the help of their families, churches, jobs, and neighborhood friends.
Could these six ideas ever come to pass? Yes! They will come to pass, but in one of two ways. Either we carry out the bloodletting under careful, clean conditions or else, when academia crashes, wow, will it crash.
November 26, 2018
The Education Issue for 2020: Get Off the Path of Least Resistance
That old cliché holds here: “I can’t say I have all the answers.” My musings today may sound critical of others. They are. But they apply to myself, too. At any rate, we must face reality: conservatives cannot keep doing what we have been doing for the last thirty years.
I offer this critique having been through two months of intense political experience.
On September 28, I left for El Salvador. On October 19, I went to Los Angeles for Politicon, where I represented Urban Game Changers Texas in six presentations. On October 27, I led a conference in Killeen, Texas.
On November 5, four colleagues and I launched our website announcing a conference in Oklahoma for next February, called “God’s Voice: A Biblical Response to the Queering of the Church.” It provoked a strong reaction.
On November 6, the midterm elections took place. On November 8, I flew to Washington for a summit of faith leaders in education, organized by the White House and conducted at the Department of Education.
I felt confirmed in my conservative beliefs. But I am also more skeptical of the conservative movement’s strategies.
What the Conservative Movement Looks Like
We conservatives tend to neglect our strongest points and try to win based on our weakest points. We have hoped that Trump’s economic progress would carry us through the midterms and position us well for 2020. This bodes disaster for us. Economic fundamentals rise and fall. Trump’s economy will eventually slow down and contract. Our free-market values can promise prosperity, but only for a season.
Moral values paint a different picture. Civilization provides a long history of success for nations with conservative values. While economic fortunes rise and fall, cultural transformations can be irreversible. When you lose a value like chastity or godliness, it is entirely possible never to regain it. Your nation may unravel and become defunct in its decadent state.
On moral issues, our values and the left’s values show a starker contrast.
Our values could resonate powerfully, if we worked hard to proclaim them and to denounce the false values of the left. We don’t do that, as you can see by looking at how conservatives deal with the all-important issue of education.
Education Is the Biggest Issue for 2020
To save America, conservatives need to dismantle the enormous social machineries the left has set up, especially in our schools and churches. Time and again, our side avoids attacking the left’s strongholds, opting for evasive arguments that focus on “liberty,” “freedom of conscience,” “local control,” “deregulation,” and “small government.”
All these catchwords are good ideas, but they are amoral in and of themselves. Unless we supplement these ideologies with strong advocacy for our specific ideals – responsibility, faith, chastity, obedience to God, decency, family integrity, and the Western tradition – the conservative case for “liberty” merely advances relativism and thereby allows the liberals to pervert us with their falsehoods and distorted values.
We must also publicly repudiate the left’s false pretenses of tolerance, equality, utopian sexual license, etc. But this entails denouncing the left on specifics, not objecting to the left’s mismanagement of due process (i.e., proving the left immoral, not complaining that the left will not let us talk).
Liberty arguments presume an underlying relativism. In the world of education, this is catastrophic. While the left has placed its moral advocates in power in every educational institution in America, including private Christian schools, so-called “conservative” colleges like Grove City College, and every public school in America, American conservatives have collectively refused to embattle educators who advance godless and perverted liberal ideology.
At the summit on November 9, the depth and resilience of the swamp shocked me. After almost two years of a Trump presidency, education officials have doubled down on the alternatives that have failed conservatives since the Reagan Era. The Department will take no position on curriculum, quality of research, content, ethics, or appropriateness of things like sex education or trans policies. Kenneth Marcus, the head of the office of civil rights for the department, stated explicitly that his office will deal with racial and sexual discrimination but will do nothing about discrimination against people based on religious beliefs.
I presume that conservatives agree with Marcus’s approach because they think this will protect Christian schools from lawsuits. Such a calculation becomes quicksand. Christian schools get infiltrated and turn into fraud engines. People will see easy money in charging Christian parents for an education that ends up involving all the filth and perversion that takes place in public schools (look at how Catholic schools have devolved). In the meantime, the massive numbers of Christians in federally funded schools can get no relief from the increasing repressiveness of LGBT, feminist, and other liberal curricula.
Oldies but Goodies: Greatest Hits from Our Losing Playbook
We need a revolution. This is basically too much work, too costly, and too shocking for conservatives, so instead, the right wing returns to its vomit like the dog of Proverbs. One conservative panacea is to issue vouchers, which will prove fruitless due to the pervasiveness of the left’s moral rot in all schools. Parents will take their children out of an urban school full of sexual perversion and place them into a suburban school full of sexual perversion where classmates have more money to spend on drugs and lax parents are more approving of social decadence. School “choice” presents the same conundrum.
Homeschooling comes up as the constant refrain. This would be a great conservative alternative for individual families, if there were not a widespread rot in popular culture brought on by the homeschoolers’ peers enrolled in schools run by depraved liberals. Like Lot homeschooling his daughters in Sodom, this delays the inevitable collision with the cultural decadence promoted in public schools.
Homeschooling provides a pleasant experience for some individuals, assuming they do not turn into the odious Kathryn Brightbill. But the vast majority of Christian conservatives cannot afford to homeschool, and our movement’s avoidance and refusal when it comes to fighting to dismantle the educational establishment leaves those conservatives in a worse position.
At the college level, the conservative answers suffer from similar myopia. One “solution” has been to avoid fighting with secular liberal colleges and to create a bubble of our own institutions. We congregate in alternative colleges like Wheaton or Pepperdine, only to see them become another liberal abyss as liberals infiltrate them the way the LGBTs have infiltrated Azusa Pacific. I’ve had awful run-ins with graduates of Hillsdale, Liberty, and Baylor. Let’s not even talk about Catholic colleges.
Another “solution” is to harp on free speech and beg for a chance to bring conservative speakers to campus. This becomes, first of all, a money-making scam for self-promoting raconteurs (remember Milo’s whirlwind tour of campuses?).
The campus brushfires caused by the Ben Shapiros, Jordan Petersons, and Christina Hoff Sommerses do nothing to diversify the university faculty. Most college students neither participate in extracurricular activities like a conservative club nor go to hear guest lecturers talk. The colleges’ main influence consists of the thousands of hours youths spend listening to professors teach in the classroom – and this gets more and more biased, even as the Ben Shapiro cottage industry grows in fame and fortune. To reverse the bias on the faculty, conservatives would have to use government to coerce university administrations and committees to drop their current criteria of teaching, publications, and service. Conservatives will not do this because it sounds like interfering with local control (which it is and should be!).
Many times, these “conservative” speakers do not share our social values but oppose socialism, political correctness, and rules against Halloween costumes. They may or may not describe themselves as libertarian. At Politicon I saw that calling someone a “socialist” does not instill alarm in anyone under the age of forty. It is a word that shocks people at Heritage and means nothing to the people we hope to turn Republican.
The emphasis on conservative guest speakers backfires. After these firebrands leave campus, the faculty become more ferocious against conservative colleagues (wherever they may hide). The whole affair swells the already outrageous student activities budgets with the high price of honoraria and security. We need to force colleges to strip away their godless involvement in people’s social lives, political engagement, and cultural development, not add a frivolous layer of conservative expenses to make the bloat worse.
Conservative intellectuals, to the extent such a small constituency exists, do not want schools’ structures to change. This leads to the advice from ostensible sages like Robert George, who tell young conservatives on campus to work from within, navigate through the Ph.D., and delay change until they have tenure. This never happens. Even when you do get tenure, your story ends the way mine did in 2016.
After 20 years in higher education, I know that colleges will not change if you sue them, embarrass them, or protest them. They will change only if you cut off their money.
At one panel at Education, a speaker revealed that 40% of higher education spending comes from the federal government. Why don’t we just threaten to cut off all their money? Lobby Trump’s people to force DeVos and her people to issue policy guidance the way they just did regarding Title IX. Lobby Trump to fire DeVos if she won’t do it. And let’s find revolutionary people to run for Congress who will bring this scenario to the public arena, proposing legislation even if we know that it will fail many times before passing.
Read this old gem for a playbook of how. Lay down eligibility requirements for tax exemptions, student loan funding, and grants or other outlays that would force them to offer job training programs, eliminate tenure, abolish non-instructional spending, and cut out bad curricula like gender studies. (By the way, Hungary did this!)
Conservative platitudes about local control, staying out of colleges’ business, not seeking to police ideas, and leaving curricula to the experts are insane! The left has no scruples about micromanaging content, values, and ideas. At some point, we do have to crush the left if we want to save our country.
The Churches Are Just as Bad, but That’s a Different Article.
Two massive institutions – the schools and the churches – are entirely controlled by the left now. They militate against conservatives and mobilize for elections. The Democrats will have an unbeatable and renewable army that will overwhelm the right. The conservatives’ answers all involve leaving the left alone on details and instead asking that people have the freedom to disagree with them. This will never work because the “details” of the left involve taking over every part of society and forcing total compliance on everyone.
Conservatives have to destroy the left’s social machine, which means two Herculean labors. First, they must crush the teachers’ unions and dismantle education as we know it by taking over the federal government and using its powers. Second, they must carry out a massive Christian reformation by staging aggressive takeovers of the major denominations and using the central denominations’ power to purge churches of unorthodox teaching.
In an ideal world, we could hold on to our discreet small-government ideals and stay above the fray, claiming we do not want to interfere with others. But remember what Paul said in Ephesians:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Think of the tasks that faced kings like Hezekiah and Josiah.
One task is an electoral one, and the other an ecclesiastical one. They both require a frightening amount of work, steel nerves, and unflinching discernment in the wake of massive propaganda. The churches are a more tragic case but just as much of a problem for conservatives. More on that another day.
In the meantime, let’s get to our war rooms.