Email I Sent to Jeb Bradley

For non-Granite Staters: Jeb is a Republican, and current president of the New Hampshire State Senate. The message contains points I've made at this blog, really nothing new. But in case you've ever wondered how I would write to a State Senator, here you go.

If you'd like to see what spurred me to write, the letter sent by Jeb and the other senators to UNH President James Dean is here.

Dear Senator Bradley --

I recently read (via an article in NH Journal) the letter sent by you and other state senators to UNH President James Dean. I was a longtime UNH employee (retired in 2016), and an occasional critic of UNH's stances on political issues. And I remember shaking your hand at the Black Bean Cafe, one of your Rollinsford campaign stops for the US Congress.

I agree with much of what your letter says. Specifically, the University should not support "hatred and bigotry in any way". That's an easy call.

However, I think the letter blurs the distinction between "not supporting" and "actively punishing". And in labeling a broad array of words and actions "unacceptable", it fails to recognize that, in a free country, one simply has to "accept" people expressing their opinions, even odious ones. Yes, swastika-painting vandals and anti-semitic harassers should be caught and appropriately punished; people peacefully demonstrating, even shouting their stupid and evil slogans, should not.

UNH has an enviably high position on the most recent College Free Speech Rankings put out by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE). (At the very bottom of the rankings: Harvard. Also below average: Tufts, sorry.) As a public university, UNH has recognized that it cannot restrict or punish First Amendment-protected speech without running afoul of the law. And there is no exception for "hate speech".

For a specific example, any effort to punish Professor Chanda Prescod-Weinstein for her anti-Israel expressions would likely be grounds for an expensive lawsuit that UNH would lose bigly.

I also wonder whether UNH has adopted (belated and unannounced) a so-called "Kalven Report" policy, deciding that it, as an institution, should refrain from issuing ex cathedra statements on political/social issues. (That would be a good idea, in my view.)

My suggestion: instead of making demands of President Dean, NH legislators should advocate (and, if necessary, legislate) that USNH defund and dismantle "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion" (DEI) bureaucracies on all campuses. Just keep whatever offices are necessary for required legal reporting to the Feds.

In addition, USNH schools should be barred from requiring "diversity statements" as part of their hiring practices.

These actions have been undertaken in other states, and people across the ideological spectrum have been advocating them.

Best wishes, and thanks for your service.

-- Paul A. Sand

Explanation: I mentioned Tufts because I noticed that Jeb went there.

On that last point, here's a recent "Republicans pounce"-style article from Vox which (nevertheless) captures the state of play: Republicans are weaponizing antisemitism to take down college DEI offices.

Now DEI programs in higher education are facing so much conservative backlash that at least 22 state legislatures have introduced at least 40 bills to ban the initiatives in state university systems and K–12 schools. Florida and North Dakota made the DEI bans state law this year, and many copycat bills are being considered.

Last week, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed an executive order to defund all DEI training and programs in public colleges and all other state agencies. Meanwhile, after a six-month standoff, Wisconsin Republicans approved $800 million in state funds that it had been withholding from the Universities of Wisconsin over objections to campus DEI programs. To receive funding for cost-of-living raises and campus building projects, the UW regents had to agree to freeze DEI staffing for three years and eliminate or redefine about 40 DEI positions.

The Vox writer was clearly dismayed, I was cheered.

For a powerful anti-DEI take, see Bari Weiss: End DEI. Excerpt:

In theory, all three of these words [diversity, equity, and inclusion] represent noble causes. They are, in fact, all causes to which American Jews in particular have long been devoted, both individually and collectively. But in reality, these words are now metaphors for an ideological movement bent on recategorizing every American not as an individual, but as an avatar of an identity group, his or her behavior prejudged accordingly, setting all of us up in a kind of zero-sum game.

We have been seeing for several years now the damage this ideology has done: DEI, and its cadres of enforcers, undermine the central missions of the institutions that adopt it. But nothing has made the dangers of DEI clearer than what’s happening these days on our college campuses—the places where our future leaders are nurtured.

It is there that professors are compelled to pledge fidelity to DEI in order to get hired, promoted, or tenured. (For more on this, please read John Sailer’s Free Press piece: How DEI Is Supplanting Truth as the Mission of American Universities.) And it is there that the hideousness of this worldview has been on full display over the past few weeks: we see students and professors immersed not in facts, knowledge, and history, but in a dehumanizing ideology that has led them to celebrate or justify terrorism.

My only quibble is with Bari's calling it a "zero-sum game". It's a negative-sum game.

Last Modified 2023-12-25 7:36 PM EDT