Americans need to curtail the power of the radicals who control higher education. Perhaps now we have a blueprint to really turn things around.
On top of entirely changing the leadership of the New College of Florida, rooting out critical race theory and gender ideology in K-12 schools, and pressuring the College Board into revising the indoctrination in its Advanced Placement course on African American studies, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has a bigger plan to reverse the awokening of education in his state.
The DeSantis effort includes eliminating bureaucracy related to so-called diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, or DEI, on college campuses and promoting curriculum that reinforces the “values of liberty and the Western tradition.” It even includes an intelligent way to curtail tenure without handing over the decisions to unaccountable educrats.
I’ve doled out a lot of praise for DeSantis, a Republican, in the last year. The reason is simple: He’s effective. What’s more—and this needs to be stressed—the institutional and structural fights DeSantis has picked are the most germane in actually changing the long-term direction of our society. His strategy should be adopted by other red state governors.
What DeSantis and the Florida Legislature are doing is what conservatives need to do if we hope to have a say in the future of this country.
The Left’s long march through the institutions is over. They won that war long ago. To counteract left-wing power in corporate America, government bureaucracies, and college campuses, we must use political power.
If the Left’s power is ascendent and insurmountable in its domain—which I believe is true—we need to look at other paths to success. To draw a little from the history of my favorite baseball team, the Oakland A’s, you can’t beat the Yankees and other big market teams with a small market team by being just like them. You need to tackle issues from another direction, zig when the opponent zags. We can’t just keep demanding that college campuses do something about their left-wing extremism and expect them to do anything.
DeSantis is doing something. He’s sidestepping the administrators, the ideologically compromised technocratic elite, and using political power to reform and reorient his state’s system of education in a direction more in accord with a free society.
Many on the Left, and even some on the Right, are now saying that this is “government interference” in schools and an attack on “free speech.”
First off, these schools are government institutions. If the people, through their elected officials, don’t have the power to “interfere” with these schools, then who does?
The Left is used to having unassailable power on campus. Leftists act imperiously because they can, and they’ve become accustomed to it. But they aren’t in charge, not really. We, the people are—unless republican government is truly dead in this country.
Higher education has lost the public trust, and now the public is reasserting itself to set things right.
Second, as far as the argument about an “attack” on free speech is concerned, it’s clear these methods are necessary to save free speech on college campuses in any meaningful sense. You will find more open, honest, diverse, and almost certainly more enlightening debate on a construction yard than in a forum at a modern U.S. university. The American people are on to this.
You aren’t going to convince the leftists and administrators on a college campus that they need to give other ideas a fair shake in genuine debate and in the marketplace of ideas. Even if you do, the squawks of just a few campus fanatics instantaneously can shut down that debate with a heckler’s veto.
This has been the reality for quite some time. It’s only gotten worse. The liberal gatekeepers aren’t changing their tune. If anything, they sense that there is a broader societal backlash against their ideas, and they are doubling down.
The explosive growth of diversity, equity, and inclusion bureaucracies doesn’t signify greater genuine diversity or inclusion, but a ruthless enforcement of orthodoxy. The apparatus provides a sinecure for the mediocre but extreme members of our ideological Ancien Regime and an abode for legions of campus inquisitors, nothing more.
Writer and filmmaker Christopher Rufo, who has led the charge against CRT and gender ideology in institutions, summed up the problem and its solution succinctly on Twitter.
Why should we be paying for that, and what right do they have to use our money as a blank check to do whatever they want?
Right now, the American taxpayer is largely paying for our new, established woke religion. So not only are we losing the larger institutional war, but even in cases in which we have political power we’ve either done nothing or literally are funding our opponents.
For generations, conservatives have talked about college campus radicalism, how higher education fails to pass on traditional American ideas in any meaningful sense. Intellectual diversity is entirely dead. The few “conservatives” who now exist in higher ed either lay low or suffer constant calls for their firing.
In Florida, DeSantis is doing something to change this dynamic. It’s about time someone did.
“A public college cannot and should not control the viewpoints expressed in the classroom,” Adam Kissel wrote for The Federalist. “Instead, a public college or a state legislature should assert its prerogative over the content of the curriculum at various levels.”
That’s what’s happening in Florida. Bleating from left-wing commentators that this is going to harm “free speech” on campus is little more than farce. What they are angry about is that like-minded people won’t be able to control all speech in their fiefdoms as they’ve become accustomed to.
And here’s the beauty of it. There’s little the Left can do to stop this. In states where the governor and legislature have broad powers to appoint trustees, Republicans absolutely will be able to shape what happens on college campuses—if they choose to do so.
It’s clear from their reaction that those on the Left are genuinely worried about this, as perhaps they should be. For half a century, higher education has worked to further the Left’s goals and transform our society. Little has been done to contain it, until now. And there isn’t much of a downside for conservatives.
Some have argued that this kind of political control of universities is dangerous, because what if the other side does it?
The obvious answer in this case is: So what if they do?
If California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, decided to be more involved in administration or curriculum on college campuses, would anything change? Most college administrations are to the left of even the most left-wing Democrat politicians who must still ultimately answer to the people they represent.
What DeSantis is doing in Florida needs to be replicated elsewhere. He is using the most basic functions of republican self-government to rein in the excess and absurdity of higher education in his state.
Yes, the corporate media, campus administrators, and hordes of left-wing activists will howl, but these changes need to happen now and on a wide scale.
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