Ben Carson Demands Monitoring of Colleges for “Political Bias”
By John K. Wilson
Ben Carson, who has surged to a lead in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, has called for the Department of Education to monitor all colleges for “political bias” and eliminate federal funding for any college deemed guilty of “political bias.”
In an interview on Oct. 21 with Glenn Beck, Carson declared: “I actually have something I would use the Department of Education to do. It would be to monitor our institutions of higher education for extreme political bias and deny federal funding on that basis.”
This would be one of the most dramatic expansions of federal power in the history of education, to have the government “monitor” political bias at all private and public colleges and then threaten federal funding.
On Oct. 25, Carson appeared on “Meet the Press” and defended his idea when host Chuck Todd questioned him about it:
CARSON: This is not just spouting off, I’ve thought about this. The way that works is you invite students at the universities to send in their complaints, and then you investigate. For instance, there was a university – I’m sure you’ve heard of the situation – where, you know, the professor told everybody, “Take out a piece of paper and write the name ‘Jesus’ on it. Put in on the floor and stomp on it.” And one student refused to do that and was disciplined severely. You know, he subsequently was able to be reinstated–
TODD: We’re not violating the First Amendment? How is what you’re advocating not a violation of the First Amendment?
CARSON: It’s not a violation of the First Amendment, because all I’m saying is taxpayer funding should not be used for propaganda. It shouldn’t be.
TODD: Your definition of propaganda could be what somebody else views as free speech.
CARSON: Well that’s why I said, we’re going to have the students send in, and we will investigate.
The sole example of “political bias” mentioned by Carson wasn’'t political bias at all. The student at Florida Atlantic University was not disciplined to refusing to step on the paper that said “Jesus” on it. Most students refused, which was the point of the exercise. The student was disciplined for making violent threats against the professor because the student felt the assignment was offensive to his religion. The professor, a Christian, was denounced by conservative politicians and pundits seeking his dismissal, and received so many death threats that the university put him on leave and banned him from teaching for the rest of the semester.
This is an extraordinarily disturbing attack on academic freedom. Carson is calling for the government to investigate “political bias” and presumably eliminate federal funds for that college if even one professor is guilty of this bias. Carson goes even further when he states that not only “political bias” but also “propaganda” would be grounds for removing all federal funding from the university.