Texas Declares War on Higher Education

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick might look like a joke, but there is nothing funny about the all-out assault his allies in the Texas legislature have recently launched against freedom, enlightenment, and education.

Dan Patrick, who favors freedom of inquiry only for those who share his lunacy.

They have introduced Senate Bill 16, an act “relating to the purpose of public institutions of higher education and a prohibition on compelling students at those institutions to adopt certain beliefs.” Under the terms of this bill, faculty members are prohibited from compelling students “to adopt a belief that any race, sex, or ethnicity or social political or religious belief is inherently superior to any other race, sex, ethnicity or belief.” Senate Bill 17 prohibits colleges and universities from requiring students, employees, contractors or applicants from making a statement on diversity, nor may these colleges “establish or maintain a diversity, equity, and inclusion office.” Senate Bill 18 states that “an institution of higher education may not grant an employee of the institution tenure or any type of permanent employment status.”

The language used in the bills is intended to conceal their real purpose. While the authors speak of the importance of intellectual freedom and their commitment to placing no limits on faculty research, the intent of the legislation is clearly to prohibit speech that might make white students feel bad about their ethnicity and race, make them feel guilty for the crimes of the past, or challenge them to think critically about race and justice in America. Strictly construed, it would be illegal for faculty members to criticize the pro-slavery Confederate States, the Indian-killing Texas Rangers, and Nazism. If all belief systems are inherently equal, Pincohet and Pol Pot stand on the same level as Pericles, and David Koresh’s deviant messianic beliefs on the same plane as those of St. Francis.

Texas has embraced a curriculum for cowards, for people who do not want to be challenged, who want to feel secure and appreciated no matter what their country may have done. It is a curriculum that is fundamentally allergic to controversy, that does not want students to face challenges to fundamental beliefs. The prophet Isaiah’s command that the faithful seek justice and correct oppression might easily be outlawed in the Lone Star State. What a sorry state for a state to be in.

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