A Weak Shield in the Culture Wars


In a recent article in the New York Times, Debra Satz and Dan Edelstein—the dean of Stanford University’s School of Humanities and Sciences, and the faculty director of its program in civic, liberal, and global education, respectively—offer a provocative thesis: “By abandoning civics, colleges helped create the culture wars.” The authors lament the decline in the protection of free speech, singling out the disgraceful effort in March by some students at Stanford Law School to silence a speech that Kyle Duncan, a federal judge, was prepared to give to the Federalist Society chapter.

Both authors point to the failure of our centers of learning to develop the “shared intellectual framework” that could help defuse or prevent such incidents, but they offer a dubious remedy: a new (since 2021) program at Stanford called “Civic, Liberal and Global Education,” or COLLEGE, intended to “steer clear of the cultural issues that doomed Western Civ.”

Let us first put this issue in perspective. I doubt that any such program, however well-conceived, would persuade graduate students in UCLA’s psychology department, for example, not to ban Yoel Inbar, a noted professor from the University of Toronto, for his queries into universities’ commitment to the DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) orthodoxy. Nor is it likely that a similar program at Harvard would do much to improve its impoverished culture of free speech, or help prevent a replay of the recent incident in which activists, shouting charges of Israeli “apartheid,” disrupted the convocation ceremony at which Harvard’s new president, Claudine Gay, welcomed new students to campus. What are needed here are not classes but sanctions, requiring violators to make good on Harvard’s public-facing and internal commitment to defend the principles of civilized discourse. As the great University of Chicago president William Rainey Harper put the point in 1892: “The question before us is how to become one in spirit, not necessarily in opinion.”

Beth and Andrew speak with educator Donique Rolle on this week’s episode. Rolle tells her story of what led her to become a teacher of African American history and how she realized that her our own college courses in African American studies were highly politicized. She explains the difference between African American history courses which focus on truth, facts and research, and African American studies courses which views history through a victim-based ideology.

She also shares her views about the recent controversy of the state of Florida rejecting the AP African American Studies curriculum for high school students.

Donique Rolle is an experienced educator in Florida with a 17-year career. For four years, she taught African American History in a predominantly Black public high school. Currently, Rolle teaches Learning Strategies and trains other educators on incorporating Black History into their curriculum and implementing effective teaching practices. Her commitment to empowering students and promoting inclusivity has made her a respected figure in education. Rolle is also the Executive Director of Putting the Pieces Together, a non-profit organization for special needs families.

Let’s Get Serious about Eliminating the Department of Education


“The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2023.” If you’ve read this far, you have completed HR899, introduced by Rep. Thomas Massie.

Abolishing the DOE isn’t a new idea. The department was created in 1979 by the Carter administration, fulfilling a campaign promise to the NEA, the teachers union, which in turn gave him their first ever presidential endorsement.

But skepticism over the department was present even at its inception. The bill passed by just four votes in a heavily Democratic House. Ronald Reagan, always concerned about over-centralized power, immediately campaigned to unwind it. Several Republican education leaders since have endorsed its elimination.

Who Will Ever Pay Down a Student Loan Again?


I am against the “forgiving” of student loans for every reason I’ve seen articulated, and one that has received little or no attention.  Biden’s “forgiving” creates well-founded expectations that the new students about to sign college loan agreements will never actually be required to repay them.  Party on, Garth!  Student loan officers might still explain the concept of a loan, a contract, maybe even a credit score, etc., but I can imagine them winking and nodding throughout the process.  Or maybe the adulting class will cover it.  Next up:  “forgiveness” demands for loans for mortgages and cars because justice demands it because of whatever grievance the borrower can muster up.  This will be the inevitable result of higher education going forward.

I recall my Bankruptcy professor explaining why student loans were not dischargeable in bankruptcy.  “Most students would declare bankruptcy immediately upon graduation.”  This was challenged by . . . nobody.  Just part of the college experience and being young, of course.

Why Do We Take Vacations?


As many of you know, my husband and I just returned from a cruise to the Eastern Mediterranean, and it was special in many ways. The service was excellent, with ample tours provided, pretty good food, and new places to explore. It was an investment as much as it was a vacation.

Yet we’re unlikely to go on another cruise.

I began to reflect on not just cruises, but our reasons for taking vacations for starters. We always enjoyed exploring places that provided us with unusual experiences and cultures. Taking a vacation meant taking a break from the ordinary demands of everyday life. We love to learn, so each journey exposed us to new ideas and adventures, giving us the opportunity to reflect on our own culture and beliefs. Besides, traveling was fun!

On this episode Beth and Andrew speak with Civil Rights Commissioner, Peter Kirsanow, who discusses his background and talks about his four terms on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and its growing political polarization.

We also discuss the Supreme Court’s recent decisions overturning affirmative action, including how it might affect the private sector. Kirsanow shares other controversial issues that are being brought to the civil rights commission, including transgender issues and the sexualization of children.

Peter Kirsanow was recently reappointed by the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives to his fourth consecutive six-year term on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He is a partner with the Cleveland law firm of Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan, and Aronoff LLP in the Labor and Employment Practice Group and has testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the nominations of John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

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In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision about race preferences, I’ve done an analysis of Harvard admissions by race and ethnicity in 2021.  The surprising result is that Orientals or “Asians” are not underrepresented, after adjustment for academic performance.  The group that is underrepresented is whites. Please bear with me as I explain […]

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Joe Selvaggi speaks with Thomas Berry, research fellow at Cato Institute’s Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies; they explore the implications of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College, how it mostly bars race as a factor in determining who gets admitted to college, the sharply contrasting views of American history the decision exposes, and what comes next for colleges seeking to ensure diverse enrollments.


Questions about the nature of the American founding undergird our fraught political discourse: was the American Revolution justified? How religious were the Founding Fathers? How should we deal with the fact that they owned slaves? What is Christian Nationalism? Mark David Hall, current Garwood Visiting Fellow with us at the James Madison Program and Herbert Hoover Distinguished Professor of Politics at George Fox University, addresses these questions and more in his latest book, Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land: How Christianity Has Advanced Freedom and Equality for All Americans (Fidelis Books, 2023). In this conversation, Mark and Annika have a lively back and forth about the debates surrounding the American founding and its repercussions today.

In addition to his book, you can find more on Mark’s views on Christian Nationalism in this essay for Providence Magazine.

Join Jim and Greg as they serve up three good martinis to close out the week! First, they cheer CNN contributor Scott Jennings for calmly but firmly confronting American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten over her absurd lies that she was pushing harder than anyone to reopen schools in the midst of the pandemic when she was loudly persistent in keeping them closed. They also welcome the news that West Virginia GOP Gov. Jim Justice is running for U.S. Senate in 2024, giving Republicans their best chance yet to knock off Sen. Joe Manchin or maybe even convince him not to run for re-election. Finally, they welcome the news that Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel is planning to sit out the 2024 cycle after backing and bankrolling multiple weak candidates in the midterms.

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In an era of broad disappointment in the integrity of political figures, Dr. Daniel J. Mahoney, author of The Statesman as Thinker: Portraits of Greatness, Courage, and Moderation (Encounter Books, 2022) revives the idea of statesmanship, dwelling on figures ranging from Alexis de Tocqueville to Vaclav Havel, all of whom sought to preserve freedom in times of crisis.

Professor Mahoney, a 2020-21 Garwood Visiting Fellow here at the Madison Program, is a professor emeritus at Assumption University and fellow at the Claremont Institute. His most recent book has been awarded the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s 2023 Conservative Book of the Year award, which honors thoughtful books that contribute to debate about important conservative ideas.

The ideas of equity and equality are all over the news, yet there seems to be little agreement on what exactly each term means. Political theorist and intellectual historian Teresa Bejan of Oriel College, Oxford discusses the origins of our notions of equality, from the Roman Empire to the present, focusing particularly on Early Modernity and the influence of the French Revolution and English political movements like the Levellers, Diggers, and Quakers. Along the way, she uncovers surprising facts like the relationship between equality and hierarchy, and that Marx was not as pro-equality as is now popularly believed.

Her recent 3-part Charles E. Test lecture series for the Madison Program, “First Among Equals

Ricochet Editor-in-Chief Jon Gabriel is in for Jim on this Good Friday edition of the podcast. Join Jon and Greg as they cheer Ron DeSantis for calling out GOP leaders over many years for making conservative promises to voters and then failing to follow through on them. They also unload on White House spokesman John Kirby for trying to blame President Trump for the Afghanistan withdrawal debacle and for claiming he didn’t see any chaos during the withdrawal operation. Finally, they react to the expulsion of two Democrats in the Tennessee legislature for leading an extended disruption on the floor of the chamber earlier this week and they address the dubious explanations from Democrats about what really happened.

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  I listened to @InezStepman’s interview on the Federalist Podcast while driving on Sunday and had a few hours to think about the problem of Student Debt.  I had another idea… force colleges to debundle.  I think the bill should be four parts – Education, Activities, Housing, Food. Preview Open

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Ricochet.com Editor-in-Chief Jon Gabriel is in for Jim today. Join Jon and Greg as they welcome the news that a Democrat in the North Carolina House of Representatives is planning to switch to the GOP. The move would give Republicans a veto-proof majority in both chambers of the legislature and allow them to bypass the Democratic governor’s opposition to school choice and more. They also shudder at two big wins for far left candidates on Tuesday, both in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race and in the Chicago mayor’s contest. Finally, they observe legal analysts across the political spectrum suggesting Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has a very weak case against Donald Trump.

Emily Jashinsky of The Federalist is in for Jim today. Emily and Greg cheer Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears for powerfully speaking the truth on parenting, guns, and many other issues to Bill Maher on Friday and pretty much every day since she took office last year. They also groan upon hearing the very predictable news that the Chinese spy balloon was actually able to gather intelligence – including signals – despite the Biden administration insisting it prevented that from happening back in February. Finally, they scratch their heads and wonder why former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is running for president in 2024 when it appears he’d have little chance even if Trump and DeSantis weren’t running.

On this episode, Beth and Andrew speak with evolutionary biologist Colin Wright. Wright walks us through the controversies around gender and trans ideology from the perspective of an evolutionary biologist and discusses the difference between sex and gender and explains why there are only two sexes: male and female.

He shares his views on why so few scientists and doctors are willing to speak up on these issues. That leaves it to the parents and we talk about what they need to know about gender and sex in order to understand the ideologies being pushed on their children in our nation’s schools.

Colin Wright is an evolutionary biologist, Manhattan Institute Fellow, and an Academic Advisor at the Society for Evidence-based Gender Medicine (SEGM). He received his PhD in evolutionary biology from UC Santa Barbara in 2018, and was an Eberly Research Fellow at Penn State from 2018 to 2020. Wright began writing publicly about issues of sex and gender in late 2018. His writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Times, the New York Post, Newsweek, Quillette, and other major news outlets and peer-reviewed journals.

Join Jim and Greg as they devote today’s podcast to discussing the horrific mass shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday. The attack left three precious children dead, along with three adults who lost their lives trying to protect the kids. First, they honor the brave police officers who responded quickly to the crisis, immediately entered the school in an urgent search for the killer, and eliminated the threat within a few minutes without endangering anyone else. They also groan at news that the killer had detailed plans to attack three different locations and also texted a friend that she was going to die yesterday and that her death would be on the news. Finally, they fume as the media criticize police for referring to the killer as a woman (which is correct) instead of as a transgender man.

Please note: There is audio from the police bodycams of the moments when the killer was neutralized. That audio starts at the 2:24 mark. If you prefer not to hear it, you can skip to the 2:48 mark, when our conversation resumes.

Americans have always had mixed emotions about schooling: in popular literature and television, teachers are often depicted as tyrannical authorities, even as in classroom settings they often try to style themselves as “friends.” Dr. Rita Koganzon, professor of political science at the University of Houston, discusses the history of the idea of authority in education, dwelling on Enlightenment thinkers like Locke, Rousseau, and Bodin. Along the way, she covers contemporary issues like homeschooling and parents’ rights, and how attitudes towards those concepts have changed from the Early Modern period to the present.

More on Dr. Koganzon, https://uh.edu/class/political-science/faculty-and-staff/professors/koganzon/