The federal Department of Education spends $75 million annually on foreign language and culture educational programs in the United States, but much of that funds academic centers that side with America’s antagonists and enemies.
Just look at funding to study the Middle East.
Beginning Oct. 20, university Middle Eastern studies centers have co-organized a weekly “Gaza in Context” series.
The sessions accept the premise of Gaza’s alleged “structural subjugation and apartheid existence” caused by Israel’s “settler colonialism.” The most recent session on Nov. 20 recasts the Hamas-Israel war as a war on the “children of Gaza.”
The list of co-organizers has grown and now includes centers or programs at George Mason University, Georgetown, Rutgers, Harvard, Brown, Columbia, the University of Chicago, CUNY, University of Illinois Chicago, George Washington University, New York University, and others.
At least five of those universities have recent grants under the Department of Education’s National Resource Centers Program to promote study of the Middle East. The same five—Chicago, Columbia, NYU, Georgetown, and George Washington University—also have recent grants to give fellowships under the Department of Education’s Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships Program.
It’s increasingly difficult to see how these federal programs are achieving their mission.
The law establishing international and foreign language education programs emphasized the importance of educating American experts in order to protect the “security, stability, and economic vitality of the United States.”
That goal does not seem to be in the mission statements of Middle East studies centers.
Meanwhile, as critics have long noted, many of the federally funded academic centers also receive funds from abroad. The centers often produce graduates who have more sympathy for foreign countries than for the United States.
National Association of Scholars analyst Neetu Arnold produced an extensive report, aptly named “Hijacked,” showing how centers at many universities have been funded by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, or other Middle Eastern countries.
Critics of the Department of Education might have an uphill battle in abolishing the entire department. But while that goal should remain Plan A, an easy piece of the department to zero out is Title VI of the Higher Education Act, which funds international and foreign language education programs.
If members of Congress remain concerned about educating experts in foreign languages and cultures, they should remember that the government is already funding plenty of other ways to develop such experts. For example, the Department of Defense’s National Security Education Program serves some of international and foreign language education’s core purposes, and that agency is focused on national security.
But if members of Congress just cannot stomach ending a federal program, funding should at least be redirected away from universities whose centers work against American interests. Eligibility for the programs could be restricted to military academies, where we should be able to trust that students and graduates intend to serve and protect America.
I made several such recommendations in a report published earlier this year.
>>>READ THE REPORT: “Transforming Federal Foreign Language Programs to Serve U.S. Interests”
Higher education’s reputation is at a low point, particularly as university leaders, faculty members, and students demonstrate moral confusion at best and violent advocacy for terrorism at worst over the Hamas-Israel war.
And a new survey of employers shows that almost all of them deny that colleges are “graduating students with relevant skills that today’s business community needs.” Two out of five said that a college degree is irrelevant, while another two in five said a degree would make someone a less-attractive hire.
Now is a good time to listen to the public and stop funding university programs that prefer America’s antagonists to America and our friends.
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