While many of his GOP colleagues would love to do away with the Department of Education, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson wants to keep it around – and for a special reason. Carson’s refusal to eliminate the federal agency contains a sinister ulterior motive – he wants to use the Dept. of Education to police “extreme political bias” at colleges around the United States.
Carson announced these self-serving plans in an appearance on Glenn Beck’s radio show on Wednesday morning during a rapid-fire Q&A. Beck asked the candidate if part of Carson’s educational policy would include eliminating the department. Smirking, Carson answered:
“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 funding if it exists.”
Of course, the conservative radio host agreed with Carson’s position and said, “I like that.”
So basically, one of the most “politically incorrect” Republican presidential candidates supports having a government agency rule over what is/isn’t politically “extreme” speech on college campuses. This is in stark contrast to his rivals’ positions on the subject. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) supports abolishing the department, and front-runner Donald Trump is in favor of significantly cutting back to empower local districts.
Carson has spoken against “political correctness” and the policing of speech in the past, so it’s baffling that he is so concerned about censorship on college campuses now. This is coming from a guy who has previously said things like:
“[People] need to rise up, they need to say to political correctness: ‘Take a hike. This is who we are, this is what we believe in, these are principles that allowed us to become the pinnacle nation in the world in record time and we’re not about to throw them out of the window for the sake of political correctness.'” (2012)
“We need to be in a place where people feel free to express themselves and not to be intimidated by political correctness. It’s destroying our nation, and there is a reason that our founders, one of the very first amendment, freedom of speech, freedom of expression.” (2015)
Last month, at the Values Voters Summit Carson said, “Political correctness is ruining our country and we need to stand up for what we actually believe.” And just this month, he stated, “We shouldn’t give away our values for the sake of political correctness.”
Carson’s Department of Education plans will actually end up hurting not only students, but the colleges. Several wealthy, high-profile schools such as Harvard and Yale rely on federal research grants, and almost all colleges are dependent on federal funding through student loans and grants for the students. Denying federal funding for political bias would be crippling.
Carson’s questionable stance on the Department of Education actually came up last month at a town hall meeting in Iowa. A student asked President Barack Obama for his thoughts on Carson’s plans to monitor political bias on college campuses. Obama spoke for most of us when he said, “I have no idea what that means, and I suspect he doesn’t either.” The idea that our historic institutions of free thought and critical analysis would be policed by this paranoid zealot is absolutely appalling, and we must do everything we can to send him back to irrelevancy.
You can watch his remarks here, if you must:
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.