Larry O’Connor, By now, you know that the Department of Education is investigating Princeton University over its president’s declaration that racism is systemically “embedded” in the university’s administrative and campus culture.
In fact, Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber went so far as to declare that “racism and the damage it does to people of color nevertheless persist at Princeton as in our society, sometimes by conscious intention but more often through unexamined assumptions and stereotypes, ignorance or insensitivity, and the systemic legacy of past decisions and policies.”
Did you catch that? Racism exists at Princeton “sometimes by conscious intention,” according to the university’s president.
This declaration may seem like a public confession demanded by the racial inquisition within the high church of wokeness, and it could be just that and nothing more. But declaring that conscious acts of racism exist within the administration of a university receiving federal funding is kind of a big deal, and that’s why the feds declared last week that they are demanding answers and explanations from Princeton, immediately.
For anyone who might think the Trump Administration was merely engaging in an election year press release publicity stunt, think again.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is not only taking this very seriously, but she just articulated the specific trap that Mr. Eisgruber has willfully walked into.
Appearing on the Chris Stigall Show (podcast available here), DeVos referred to this as a “very serious matter” not once, not twice, but three times.
“It is a very serious matter,” she told Stigall this morning on AM 990 The Answer in Philly.
She then went to the very crux of the issue pertaining to Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which mandates that “no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
In exchange for receiving overstuffed bags of your tax dollars on a regular basis, Princeton merely has to cross a couple of “Ts” and dot a few “Is” on the federal forms. One of the minor details the university needs to declare is that it doesn’t discriminate and that it follows federal laws with regard to civil rights.
And that’s the trap Princeton just willingly walked into.
DeVos laid it out to Stigall in no uncertain terms.
“You have the requirement every year, that every higher ed institution – that has any kind of federal funding going to it – must certify and declare annually that they do not discriminate and that they follow all civil rights laws. And then, on the other hand, you have an institution whose leader says ‘we are inherently, systemically racist.’ Those two cannot exist together,” DeVos explained.
And there it is.
If Princeton is guilty of “systemic racism” by “conscious intention,” that means that it has not only willfully and knowingly violated the civil rights of its students, but it also means it has falsely claimed otherwise to the federal government, thus violating the Civil Rights Act and knowingly taking your tax dollars under false and deceptive pretenses.
As DeVos said, “This is a very serious matter.”
Of course, there is a way out for Princeton and Eisgruber. DeVos graciously laid that out to Stigall.
“And so, it is a very serious matter that I trust that we are going to be able to navigate… that Princeton will respond appropriately and we will work through this,” she said. “It is a serious issue and the notion that any institution would knowingly and regularly continue to operate and declare that they are not discriminatory or racist and then at the same time acknowledge they are, the two are totally incompatible.”
First of all, DeVos’s use of “knowingly and regularly” is incredibly significant because it amplifies the pattern of discriminatory practices and the routine of annually certifying that the university has, in fact, not engaged in any discriminatory practices. As DeVos says, “the two are totally incompatible.”
The only remedy for Princeton is to admit it’s not guilty of systemic racism. Anything else could mean an existential threat to the university as well as shame and humiliation for Michelle Obama’s alma mater.
That’s what DeVos signaled when she said, “I trust that we are going to be able to navigate… that Princeton will respond appropriately and we will work through this.”
The ball is now in Princeton’s court. Will it stand by its declaration that it’s guilty of systemic racism and thus admit that it has been lying to the Department of Education in exchange for federal funding? Or will it admit that this was nothing but performative grandstanding to satisfy the unsatisfiable mobs demanding that all of us declare our racism and beg for forgiveness after a penance is exacted from our flesh?
We shall see. One thing is for certain: If Joe Biden wins in six weeks and Elizabeth Warren is the new Education Secretary, this entire matter will just go away.
Ready to vote yet?