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campus culture wars
Tennessee State Legislature Takes On Campus PC

Here’s something you can expect to see more of in the coming months and years: The Tennessee state legislature is launching an investigation into the University of Tennessee’s diversity bureaucracy, asking the campus to justify how its various publicly-subsidized identity politics programs actually serve students and taxpayers. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports:

The House investigation has its roots in controversies last semester, when the Knoxville campus clashed with Republican legislators over two incidents that critics slammed as demonstrating excessive political correctness.

A post on the Pride Center’s website offering guidelines for the use of gender-neutral pronouns went viral in August after conservative news sites like Campus Reform, the College Fix, and Fox News portrayed its suggestions about using the pronouns as a hard-and-fast policy.

… Tensions escalated in December when a post suggesting that people not use faith-based references at campus holiday parties also drew the indignation of right-leaning journalists.

This is not the only time Republican state legislatures have tried to intervene in the recent campus PC wars. In January, Missouri lawmakers leaned on their flagship state university to fire a professor who was caught on video trying to evict a student journalist from a campus protest. And it certainly won’t be the last. Even as campus politics are hurtling to the left with no end in sight, Republicans are accumulating tremendous political power at the state level. (Republicans fully control 30 of the nation’s state legislatures to the Democrats’ 11).

There is a long history of state politicians intervening in university politics when the general public feels that things have gotten out of hand. Such interference can itself get quite ugly and authoritarian, as it did during the McCarthy period. But taxpayers are entitled to know how the money they allocate to universities is being used, and there is a lot of room between neglect and McCarthyism. Lawmakers are right to ask for answers, and to consider cutting funds to diversity programs that have little or no educational value.

Campus activists have grown accustomed to dealing with university administrators, who tend to cave to their PC program in order to avoid confrontation. They shouldn’t be confident that state politicians, accountable to ordinary Americans outside the campus bubble, will respond in the same way.

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  • GS

    And why use “McCarthyism” as a pejorative? Judging by what goes on in these same American universities, the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy had quite a point.

    • Tom

      Joe McCarthy was accidentally right, and as a result tars the anti-Communist movement to this day.

      • GS

        -Not even “accidentally” but “fundamentally” right.

        • Tom

          No, very accidentally.

          • GS

            Permit me to disbelieve you. I was born and grew up in the effing russia, and what the commies are I know only too well, and have the scars to show. He was absolutely right – equally “accidentally” I would be winning the Powerball lottery jackpots in a row.

          • Tom

            He was accidentally right about how much the Communists had infiltrated the government. He was not accidentally right about how bad Communism was–although even than I have my doubts.

          • GS

            “then” and “than” are SAT vocabulary. He was right about how bad they were – indeed they were and are much worse than he could have imagined.

    • Fat_Man

      Anytime liberals get in trouble, they dig up poor tail-gunner Joe. It is no accident that Hollywood emitted trash like “Truth” and “Trumbo” this year. Both of which justly sank without a box office trace.

      On a brighter note, “Hail, Caesar” was 180° off of that. The villains in the plot are a cabal of communist screenwriters who are led by a flamboyant homosexual. The movie is a farce, and the communists are farcical, but anti-Communists can leave the theater feeling vindicated.

  • Beauceron

    Oh, I fully expect the state legislators to be crushed by the campus radicals.

    Look, we’ve moved into an era where the Left owns the educational system outright–top to bottom, from pre-K to graduate school . It’s theirs. You think a bunch of mealy mouthed legislators will curb them? They also own the media complex, everything from the mainstream news outlets, social media, film and TV companies and actors. That is powerful stuff.

    And what do you think state legislators will do when a mob of screeching kids denounce them all as racist, white privileged bigots who are oppressing them by trying to defund programs that involve race or gender or sexual orientation issues? And when the media– everything from Twitter to Facebook to the news piles on? Most will do what most college administrators have done: fold. Just give them whatever they want and pray they leave you alone. No elected official wants that kind of bad publicity, trashed as a racist, sexist, homophobic monster all over the place? No. They will lose, I suspect.

    More’s the pity.

    • CapitalHawk

      I’m tempted to agree with you, but I think you may be wrong. State legislators operate under the radar. Only people really interested in things even know that name of their state reps and senators, and very few people vote in those elections. The Twitter-verse isn’t going to get in a twist over a Missouri state representative from Hannibal, Missouri. Neither with the national media. And the local media doesn’t have the resources or desire to focus on those issues – local news is all about crime, real estate development/jobs/business issues, weather and sports.

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