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Taxpayers Are Subsidizing College Extremism

Posted on Friday, May 3, 2024
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by Outside Contributor
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Mohamed Abdou is a pro-Hamas “anarchist interdisciplinary activist-scholar of Indigenous, Black, critical race, and Islamic studies, as well as gender, sexuality, abolition, and decolonization” at Columbia University. Now, I don’t mean to pick on Abdou. It’s just that he happens to teach virtually every trendy pseudo-intellectual identitarian twaddle concocted by modern man.

Ultimately, we make Abdou’s job possible. Nearly every student loan taken in the U.S. is either given by the government or fully guaranteed by taxpayers. This sounds wonderful in the abstract, since it allows every student a chance at higher education. The reality, however, is that we have incentivized universities to create hordes of debt-ridden, credentialed nitwits.

I assure you no bank in the world would ever lend any young person tens of thousands of dollars — much less hundreds of thousands — to pursue studies in either indigenous, black, critical race, Islamic, gender, sexuality, abolition, or decolonization studies if those loans were not backed by the federal government. The state-guarantee policy has created a massive moral hazard that allows schools not only to ignore the real-world needs of their students but to charge astronomical tuition rates.

Many, if not most, students still pursue degrees in fields that have promise. They’ll get loans. But if Ivy League schools believe that those political science and journalism degrees are going to pay off in careers, then they should cosign on the loans instead of taxpayers. If Columbia wants an anarchist interdisciplinary activist-scholar on staff, it should be funded by school endowments (a $13 billion hedge fund that should taxed) or through charitable donations provided by the Soros Foundation to End Western Civilization, or whatnot.

It is true that universities are not meant to be wholly utilitarian institutions. We need well-rounded, intellectually engaged citizens. Does anyone believe that’s happening? There’s nothing wrong with studying art or culture or philosophy. There is nothing wrong with earning a liberal arts degree. The student loan racket game, however, solidified silos of extremism and buffoonery, with decades of compounding radicalism and “diversity, equity and inclusion” racism smothering genuine intellectual diversity. Every discipline is infected.

Now Democrats want to go from backing this racket to decreeing that taxpayers should just pay off all these bad choices, creating even greater moral hazard. You can inject all the class-war emotions you like into this debate, but the rules of economics are clear. Bailouts disincentivize schools from acting responsibly and incentivize some students to keep chasing degrees that will do them very little good.

Speaking of credential nitwits, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who graduated cum laude from Boston University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in both international relations and economics, recently noted that one of the many things loan “forgiveness” would do is allow people to “go back to school.” The rate of first-time, full-time students at four-year institutions who graduate from the school they started at within six years stands at 64%. We need people out of school, finishing degrees that allow them to work and pay back their loans, not going back to school.

Of course, the United States is such a hellhole of capitalist imperialism that 13,838 students out of 36,649 at Columbia University are here on foreign visas. (I planned on arguing that this policy was unfair to high-achieving American students, until I realized that 13,838 Americans have been spared Columbia.) Schools love foreign students because they are wealthy and pay in cash. And that’s fine. Most of those kids are probably serious students in business and STEM programs.

Still, the U.S. government has zero constitutional duty to keep active visas for foreigners who agitate against the system, celebrate Hamas or target American Jews (or anyone else) on campuses. We should be pulling visas for anyone suspended for ignoring university rules, breaking laws, invading buildings or stopping other kids from attending class. Go to school in your excellent home country instead.

Universities have always been hotbeds of radicalism. That’s fine. Those are the years to act like an imbecile. But extremism is no longer on the margins. These days, our once-respected institutions are increasingly producing little totalitarians and clueless fellow travelers, who end up populating important real-world institutions. Society would be better served lighting up a giant cash bonfire than subsidizing this corrosive trend.

David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist. Harsanyi is a nationally syndicated columnist and author of five books — the most recent, “Eurotrash: Why America Must Reject the Failed Ideas of a Dying Continent.” His work has appeared in National Review, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Reason, New York Post and numerous other publications. Follow him on Twitter @davidharsanyi.
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anna hubert
anna hubert
21 days ago

What we see is not extremism It’s violence destruction complete disregard for law and order and biting the hand that feeds Many possibly majority are professional trouble makers payed to disrupt and destruct

invictus
invictus
19 days ago

Many of those ‘protesters’ are actually professional radicals/outside agitators/segregationists, often funded by the disgusting drooling slob George Soros and US federal agencies including the roach-cocaine motel know as the wh(think jan6 hostages).

Rich
Rich
20 days ago

Everyone needs an ivy league college degree comrade! For free of course.

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