Subverting higher ed: New "school" at UNC has conservative stench

We've been down this bent road before:

The Program for Civic Virtue and Civil Discourse — approved by the College of Arts and Sciences at UNC Chapel Hill — is set to begin in Fall of 2021. Chris Clemons, a UNC senior associate dean who is spearheading the program’s launch, told the Editorial Board Monday that the purpose of the program is to support a culture of open, respectful and productive public debate at UNC.

That should sound good to anyone fatigued by the tenor and lack of substance in public discourse these days. But evidence indicates that the UNC program might be less about those high-minded objectives and more about promoting conservative thought.

The second part of that title (Civil Discourse) has the flavor of a few recent columns by John Hood and other Pope mouthpieces. Combine that with the harsh and counter-intuitive "Free Speech" law that Republicans passed a few years ago, and you've got the likelihood of more Tom Tancredo incidents looming in the future. But probably the most damning evidence this school is going to be disruptive is the stealthy nature of its beginnings:

A planning team for the program has visited the conservative School of Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State, as well as Princeton’s James Madison Program, which is led by conservative professor Robby George. Members of those programs were asked to be on the UNC’s program’s advisory board, which was tilted far enough to the right that the UNC Faculty Executive Committee recommended that Clemens add at least one more progressive. He did with Harvard professor Cornel West.

In a 2017 email to George, Clemens wrote: “I have been among of the most outspoken conservative members of the Arts & Science faculty at UNC for many years” and said he was “intrigued to learn of our administration’s interest in housing a conservative center on campus.”

Despite the program’s name, three UNC professors who have written on the political theory of “civic virtue” have not been consulted on the program’s curriculum or direction, according to one of them, UNC School of Law professor Maxine Eichner. In fact, faculty members who asked to attend a major advisory board meeting Wednesday and Thursday were told that it was closed to them and the public.

Clemens confirmed to the Editorial Board that this week’s meetings are neither open to faculty nor considered public meetings. “We want to have a frank conversation without outsiders there,” he said.

When your own colleagues on the faculty are considered "outsiders," you have really jumped the institutional shark.

Just to give you an idea of what to expect from this new school, here is the next featured speaker at Arizona State's version:

"Panic Attack: Young Radicals in the Age of Trump" Featuring Robby Soave

The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, in partnership with the Goldwater Institute, welcomes Robby Soave to Arizona State University for a lecture and book signing.

Since the 2016 election, college campuses have erupted in violent protests, demands for safe spaces, and the silencing of views that activist groups find disagreeable. Who are the leaders behind these protests, and what do they want? In "Panic Attack", libertarian journalist Robby Soave answers these questions by profiling young radicals from across the political spectrum.

Copies of "Panic Attack: Young Radicals in the Age of Trump" will be available for purchase at the event.

Robby Soave is an associate editor at

That last sentence is a doozy. Reason is one of the worst pro-Trump tabloids that exists, and the accuracy of the articles can best be described as non-existent. Which pretty much answers the question why Clemens doesn't want his fellow professors sniffing around, because they would soon figure out what kind of nonsense he was brewing there.



Art Pope strikes again

Pope's buying of influence in North Carolina would be easily called "the long game." He's quietly getting almost everything he wants. Knee-jerk reactionaries on the UNC Board of Governors, a legislature that can't govern, starving the beast, and wall-to-wall gerrymandering.

The next phase is a renewed battle for hearts and minds in the marketplace of ideas -- the real world -- where libertarians mumbo-jumbo falls apart.