By Jim Banks
In 1963, Congressman Albert S. Herlong Jr. of Florida read “45 Communist goals for America” into the Congressional Record. Sixty-three years afterwards, many sound eerily familiar:
Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers’ associations. Put the party line in textbooks. Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of the “big picture.”
Children today sit in public school classrooms where they are taught that America has an irredeemably shameful past. College students are told that America is evil and oppressive because it is great.
Republicans have been sounding the alarm about anti-American classroom indoctrination for years. I started the first ever House Anti-Woke Caucus to bring like-minded Republican lawmakers together to fight back against wokeness in education.
If there was any doubt about how bad things are, the campus reaction to the Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel definitively proved that wokeness, DEI, anticolonialism studies, etc., are not only inextricably connected, but incompatible with the American way of life.
Several student organizations at Harvard signed a letter blaming Israel for the attacks. A statement by the Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine reads: “Since Friday, Palestinians have been launching a historic attack on the colonizers … Footage of liberation fighters from Gaza paragliding into occupied territory has especially shown the creativity necessary to take back stolen land.”
A Berkeley organization, Bears for Palestine, released a statement of solidarity with the “Resistance Uprising in Gaza,” which reads, “We support the resistance, we support the liberation movement, and we indisputably support the Uprising.” According to a recent Harvard/Harris poll, most college-aged Americans believe that Hamas’ terrorist attack was “justified.”
How did we get here? And what in the world are most American college students thinking?
They’re not thinking; they’re repeating campus orthodoxy. Students are taught to instinctively divide the world into binary moral categories — the oppressors, who are evil, versus the oppressed, who are good. The evil and the good are alternatively labeled as colonizers vs. indigenous, Western vs. non-Western, “cis” vs. “trans,” fundamentalist vs. freethinker, or, as it relates to the Oct. 7 terrorist attack, Jew vs. Palestinian. This is a simplistic, stupid worldview, but it is now universal in American higher education. Republicans must realize that we can no longer hand-wave this crisis away.
In the immediate term, we must use the full force of existing law to defeat Hamas and its cheerleaders. Because Hamas is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, Hamas supporters should be disqualified from obtaining visas. Several of the pro-Hamas demonstrators at Harvard, Berkeley and other schools are presumably noncitizens who are here on student or exchange student visas. The Biden administration has the legal authority and a national security obligation to immediately bring expedited deportation proceedings against terrorist sympathizers.
Then, Congress and the next Republican president must work together to rid our college campuses of woke orthodoxy. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Rep. Greg Steube and I coauthored the Fairness in Higher Education Accreditation Act to free college campuses from legally mandated wokeness. Increasingly, accreditors are imposing ideological standards, such as diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and affirmative action policies, as part of their criteria for evaluating a school’s accreditation status. This means universities must comply with woke standards or they’ll lose their federal funding. Our bill would prevent college accreditors from forcing DEI curricula on U.S. universities.
Too many campuses have replaced open debate with mob rule, mandatory far-left loyalty oaths and one-sided debate, all of which undermine the principles of freedom in favor of communist-style groupthink.
The Oct. 7 terrorist attack fully exposed the moral and intellectual consequences of campus wokeness. Republicans need to seize the moment and eliminate anti-American indoctrination before its too late.
Jim Banks represents Indiana’s 3rd congressional district in the House of Representatives.