Friday, 24 February 2017

Betsy DeVos and the Brainwashing of HE

Oh how delicious!  The US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has made her first speech to the HE community, and used the opportunity to slag the lot of them off for brainwashing students and telling them what to think.

'What the hell?'  I hear you cry!  Is this a protest from DeVos against the anti-capitalist Frankfurt-School influences of the Social Sciences?

Nope.  Seems like it is another veiled dig at the University of California, on account of them cancelling a talk from a far-right newspaper editor (Breitbart) after violent protests.  This was certainly seen by Breitbart as yet another example of an academic elite institution pandering to left-wing sentiments - and since a former Breitbart editor is now the Presi... a close advisor TO the President, it was kind if inevitable that Trump would weigh in and declare the University an enemy of the people, or something like that.

Actually, Trump's response was:


Now, leaving aside for a moment the that fact that this statement came so quickly from a man who seemed to find it far harder to denounce the Klu Klux Klan, let's think for a moment about DeVos.  We all know that her confirmation hearing was frankly a shambles.  She did not seem to know much about education, seemed utterly incapable of giving straight answers, and at one point seemed to bizarrely suggest that schools should be allowed to keep guns to protect themselves from grizzly bears.  Don't believe me?  Well, just look:




Given this performance, I guess it is at least possible that what DeVos referred to in her address as 'telling people what to think' is just her way of saying 'education'.  More likely though, the comment relates again to Trump's ire at Berkeley, in which case the problem is not that the Universities are telling students what to think, but that nobody seems to just be letting Trump do it.

Either way, I think we have a golden opportunity here.  DeVos clearly agrees with Trump that anything impinging on views he supports a violation of freedom of speech.  Anything he doesn't agree with is fake anyway, so needs no rights.

In a room full of HE professionals, there seems a way to resolve this issue.  DeVos and Trump on one side.  Some of the finest academics and minds of there generation on the other...