The GOP War on College

Up there is a photo of the college where I work. It's part of the rows of American flags that lined the sidewalks that go through the center of campus. Every year, a group of student veterans plants the flags in honor of Veterans Day. No one knocks them over. No one steals them. It's an impressive display, actually, in the autumn light, the fallen leaves around them. My school is not conservative. In fact, it's incredibly open to all sorts of ideologies and activities. Military recruiters set up booths in the student center. There have been pro-Palestine and pro-Israel marches. The LGBTQ organization is very active. One bathroom in each building has been designated as non-gender specific. During the election, someone wrote "Vote Trump" in chalk on the sidewalk. No one batted an eye. We just walked over it. In one of my classes last year, I had a student wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt and another student in a MAGA hat. No one asked for a safe space, but, if someone did, we do have those on campus because what's the big fucking deal if we do?

The point here is one I've made before: All the shit you hear about what goes on at colleges and universities is a grotesque exaggeration of the day-to-day life of most campuses. But conservatives have long been beating themselves off about those crazy-ass liberals cruelly opening the minds of their precious, protected, tender children. Oddly, most of those conservatives are college-educated, yet they still managed to turn out to be total assholes, which ought to completely fuck up their point. But that would require logic, and logic, as we have learned time and again, is not one of the tools available in the savage right-wing toolbox.

Now, Republicans are finally putting into action their desire to snuff out the educational dreams of the poor and middle class. The phenomenally destructive tax bill just passed by the House of Representatives contains multiple provisions to dick over college students in order to simply shovel more cash into the gaping maws of the ultra-rich. The House bill would turn tuition waivers for graduate students into income, which would mean that the taxes for poor grad students and law school and medical school students would go up by about 400%. The bill would eliminate the deduction for student loan interest. It would tax the endowments of universities, funds that are used for, you know, education. And it would consolidate some tax credits into a lower, single credit that will directly affect millions of Americans.

Part of this is the desperation that Republicans have for offsetting the ludicrous cost of lowering taxes on the wealthy. But part of it comes from Republican animosity towards higher education. 58% of Republicans in a poll this past summer said that college has a "negative effect" on the country. Which, if you think about it, is pretty fucked up because Republicans are, in large part, responsible for gutting and dumbing down elementary and secondary education and making it so that most decent jobs require a Bachelor's degree. But now that kids are going to college and learning history and other shit that makes them question authority, especially religious and conservative authority, all of a sudden it's bad.

The right can't just say, "We hate universities because they teach kids how to be decent human beings, and it actually sticks for some of them." But conservatives can point to the excesses at a pretty limited number of colleges, like protests against speakers or speech codes or other stuff. Then they can say, "Oh, look at these motherfucking intolerant lefties who get so much from the government."

And if they can fuck the kids over in the name of keeping more people stupid and thus keeping them more Republican, all the better.