Dr. Ben Carson wants to use the U.S. Department of Education against what he thinks is "extreme political bias." Given that I've publicly disagreed with him at times in my columns, I fully expect to be in his crosshairs for writing them.
In a recent interview with Glenn Beck, Dr. Carson told him, "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 federal funding if it exists," according to the Daily Beast.
In an article by Tyler Kingkade of the Huffington Post, Carson criticized "political correctness" using a Nazi Germany analogy.
"I know you're not supposed to say 'Nazi Germany,' but I don't care about political correctness. You know, you had a government using its tools to intimidate the population. We now live in a society where people are afraid to say what they actually believe."
Well, if unleashing the Department of Education on colleges that have whatever Dr. Carson's opinion of "extreme political bias" is isn't intimidating, I don't know what is. Given that I've critiqued Dr. Carson on several occasions, I don't fancy my prospects of avoiding such a list.
Should I say what I actually believe? If so, my students might lose Federal funding for their scholarships. Could their Federally-backed student loans be affected? Would it hurt our college? The stakes are pretty high.
If Dr. Carson were some fringe candidate with less than one percent of the vote, I probably wouldn't have too much to worry about. But he's a leading GOP candidate, and just surpassed Donald Trump in a CBS/New York Times poll.
Should I stop writing columns for the good of my family and my ability to support them? Perhaps I might have to write some articles flattering of Dr. Carson to make up for all of the critiques first, and hope that does the trick.
But in my classes, I've taught students about the American Revolution, and how hard our Founding Fathers fought for the right to free speech, and a free press. Could I still tell them such a concept applies, if I allow myself to be silenced by a leading political candidate?
I also teach about the evils of Nazi Germany, and how the government was able to intimidate people who opposed them into silence, before committing all kinds of atrocities. What kind of teacher would I be if I said such ideas should be resisted, and then became a coward when a powerful candidate threatens to take away such freedoms?
For the sake of my conservative students, and liberal students, I owe it to them to keep writing opinions, whether they are conservative or liberal, regardless of the consequences. Because if I don't, I'd be lying to them that the values of the Founding Fathers, as well as the beliefs of those who resisted Nazi Germany, aren't worth putting into practice personally.
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. He can be reached at email@example.com.