Latest News and Commentary: National

July 26, 2021
By George Leef
National Review

Excerpt: Excerpt: American college and university alums have suffered for a long time, mostly watching in quiet resignation as the institutions where they once studied and matured have been turned into platforms for leftist advocacy. At a few schools, however, the alumni are beginning to fight back and, as Jay Schalin informs us in today’s Martin Center article, one of them is Davidson College.

One issue is the administration’s abandonment of Davidson’s roots as a Christian (specifically, Presbyterian) institution. In a high-handed manner, it decided to drop the written requirements that the president needed to be a practicing Christian and most of the board be composed of Christians. When an alumni group sought to notify as many Davidson alums as possible about this break with tradition, the administration put up a fuss because, it supposed, the alumni directory wasn’t to be used for mass email purposes.

Schalin concludes with some good news: “[R]esistance to free speech infringements and far-left political and ideological agenda is gaining traction. Such developments have [also] occurred at Princeton University, the University of Virginia, and at Washington and Lee University.”

July 26, 2021
By Jackson Walker
The College Fix

Excerpt: After her sorority at Louisiana State University kicked her out, Emily Hines says the school ignored her request for the incident to be investigated for possible bias. Alpha Phi, a Greek Life organization independent of LSU, revoked Hines’ membership in April over her TikTok video that criticized Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine for her transgender identity. The seven-second video featured the Bee Gees’ song “More Than a Woman.”

Hines told The College Fix she believes the decision was politically motivated. “I think they chose to remove me because my beliefs go against modern society and it would look bad on them. Sororities are all about outward appearance and I know first hand that Alpha Phi is no exception,” Hines said.

July 26, 2021
By Jonathan Turley
jonathanturley.org

Excerpt: Schools on both the high school and college levels are engaging in more monitoring of social media by students and teachers. The latest such case was reported in the Daily Herald involves Palatine High School’s Jeanne Hedgepeth who criticized the rioting after the death of George Floyd and referred to the violence as a “civil war.” She was fired by Township High School District 211 and is now suing the school district.  

Hedgepeth was writing on her own time and on her personal social media accounts outside of her capacity as a teacher. She made a series of controversial statements like comparing the term “white privilege” to the use of the N-word. She also referred to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton as “race baiters.”

July 24, 2021
By Hannah Natanson
The Washington Post

Excerpt: Nevaeh Wharton was busy with homework one evening in late April when her phone pinged with a warning. A friend had texted to say something disgusting was happening in a private Snapchat group chat. When the 16-year-old woke the next morning, another message was waiting for her: She had been discussed in the group. A group of mostly White students attending two of Traverse City’s high schools, including Nevaeh’s, had held a mock slave auction on the social media app, “trading” their Black peers for money.

The event drove a school equity resolution that condemned racism and vowed Traverse City Area Public Schools would better educate its overwhelmingly White student body and teaching staff on how to live in a diverse country. Although at first it drew vocal support it has since inspired equally vehement opposition, led by mostly White, conservative parents who contend that the resolution amounts to critical race theory in disguise.

July 23, 2021
By Michael Hicks
kpcnews.com

Excerpt: Earlier this year, Indiana’s General Assembly passed Senate Bill 414, which required universities to survey students about the climate for free speech on campus. Schools must then report these findings to the Commission on Higher Education. At first blush it looks like another volley in the destructive culture wars. But I think this survey can be enormously instructive to university leaders and legislators alike.

It should hardly surprise anyone that professors and college administrators are overwhelmingly from the political left. It is necessary to understand whether or not the undeniably real and deep imbalance of political ideology weakens free speech on campus. If done honestly, here’s what I think the survey will find: I suspect very little indoctrination or ideology occurs in the classroom. There’s simply not time or place for much political discourse. The faculty members I know, both conservative and progressive, are far more worried about teaching the material than talking politics.

July 23, 2021
By Laura Beltz
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

Excerpt: University of Nebraska regent and gubernatorial candidate Jim Pillen said recently that he intends to introduce a board of regents resolution in August opposing “any imposition of critical race theory” in university curriculum. The resolution’s vague terms present serious academic freedom concerns, and those concerns appear to be shared by members of the university’s faculty, the university system president, and chancellors of each of those universities, who have spoken out against the proposal.

The language is ambiguous, and therein lies the problem. If Pillen’s resolution were phrased clearly to prevent the board of regents itself from imposing certain required curricula on faculty, that would be all well and good. So, too, would it be permissible for the regents to share their opinions about whatever they mean by “critical race theory,” just as university leaders often exercise their own expressive rights to criticize student or faculty speech.

July 23, 2021
By Zaid Jilani
Persuasion

Excerpt: In their book The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, authors Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff speculate that a specific cohort of young Americans is driving rising hypersensitivity towards political differences and skepticism about free speech.

They point to Americans born in and after 1995—whom the psychologist Jean Twenge calls “iGen,” short for the “internet Generation”—as the group whose members, once they reached college age, began pushing for a radical restructuring of academic life.

It is unfortunate that this youngest cohort of Americans seems to have gone on, after graduation, to increasingly enforce their new norms in a range of institutions. However, new data is a hopeful indication that cancel culture may have peaked. Overall, cancel culture is quite unpopular among all cohorts, with each generation viewing it more negatively than positively.

July 23, 2021
By Joel Kotkin
American Mind

Excerpt: The near hysteria, though justifiable, among conservatives concerning the imposition of racialist Critical Race Theory (CRT) in schools fails to address how this theology both reflects and contributes to the “systemic” decline of education itself. Over time, our educational deficit with other countries, notably China, particularly in the acquisition of practical skills in mathematics, engineering medical technology, and management, has grown, threatening our economic and political pre-eminence. Our competitors, whatever their shortcomings, are focused on economic competition and technological supremacy.  

Critical Race Theory and its growing chorus of implementers—from the highest reaches of academia down to the grade school level—have little use for such practical skills acquisition and brook little dissent from teachers and researchers who raise objections to the new curriculum of racial grievance. In a world where brainpower pushes the economy, the denigration of habits of mind can only further weaken our economic future and undermine republican institutions.

 

July 23, 2021
By John Steele Gordon
City Journal

Excerpt: There is a growing tendency toward censorship in the United States, made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic. It must be opposed vigorously, as it is a slippery slope indeed. Once people have the power (and it is an awesome one) to decide what is truth and what is not, they will never willingly give it up.

Over the last few years, the phrase “the science is settled” has become a euphemism for “shut up.” This year, the various social media platforms have been deleting what they declare to be Covid “misinformation.” The truth, as far as Facebook, Twitter, and others are concerned, is now whatever the government’s line is at the moment. Disgracefully, the Biden administration has been encouraging social media platforms to increase this censorship.

If the Centers for Disease Control has made a pronouncement regarding the pandemic, not even a highly credentialed epidemiologist is allowed to disagree, at least until the CDC changes its mind. Last year, to suggest that Covid-19 originated in a Wuhan virology lab was “misinformation.” Today, it is the leading theory. Indeed, disagreement is the very engine that drives scientific advancement.

July 22, 2021
By Pat McCrory & Erich Prince
RealClear Politics

Excerpt: Earlier this month, Nikole Hannah-Jones, the lead author of The New York Times’ controversial (and historically dubious) 1619 Project and an apparent supporter of the Cuban regime, declined an offer of tenure from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She had initially been denied tenure. Then the university’s leadership caved amid the backlash to the initial decision, which was replete with accusations of (you guessed it) “racism.”

This flip-flop is hardly surprising. Certain statistics make clear that universities are unmistakably hostile to conservative (or even simply non-left-wing) viewpoints. Students on campuses across the country are self-censoring; free speech at universities is consistently evaporating; and speakers who challenge left-wing orthodoxies are shouted down or barred from speaking.

The time has come for conservatives concretely to respond. Universities should become less political overall. This might even take the form of basing a portion of instructors’ compensation on how students perform. Also, universities should not be having programs on “diversity, equity, and inclusion.” As has become clear, these are merely code for maligning and excluding anyone who does not support far-left, identitarian politics.

Pat McCrory served as the 74th governor of North Carolina from 2013 to 2017 and the 53rd mayor of Charlotte from 1995 to 2009. Erich Prince co-founded and runs the online magazine Merion West.