- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Conservative commentators warned of neo-Marxist indoctrination on college campuses, lambasted coronavirus mask mandates and criticized alliances between U.S. churches and the Black Lives Matter movement during a roundtable discussion Tuesday sponsored by Liberty University’s Falkirk Center for Faith and Liberty.

Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, a nonprofit that promotes freedom, called U.S. colleges and universities “American indoctrination camps” where students are taught Karl Marx and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

“Instead of learning about Thomas Jefferson they’re reading from Nikole Hannah-Jones and ‘The 1619 Project,’” said Mr. Kirk, referring to The New York Times reporter and her Pulitzer Prize-winning podcast and interactive project on slavery in America.

A 2019 Pew Research study found growing disenchantment with colleges, particularly among conservatives, who tend to view university faculty with suspicion.

Discussion moderator John Danhoff noted lopsided disparities between conservative and liberal professors in various fields, with history professors identifying as a Democrat 30 times more often than as a Republican, according to at 2017 Econ Journal Watch.

Sebastian Gorka, former deputy assistant to President Trump, joined Mr. Kirk in denouncing the “progression” of far-left 20th century philosophers, including Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, who was imprisoned by that nation’s fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini.

Mr. Gorka recounted a recent interaction at a 7-Eleven convenience store in which he refused to wear a mask.

“This is a war for the soul of our nation,” he said, repeating one of his favorite lines at speaking engagements and encouraging people to vote in November. “You can travel within a mile of this hotel and see Black Lives Matter signs on the front lawns of churches.”

The one-hour panel discussion was part of the center’s two-day Freedom Summit, broadcast from the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Erin Elmore, an attorney and political analyst who first gained attention as a contestant on the NBC reality show “The Apprentice,” remarked that her child had encountered a Black Lives Matter message while doing an internet search, suggesting that social media giants and corporate America have become complicit in spreading progressive ideology.

“Now I have a 7-year-old asking what that means, when color was never infused into our home,” Ms. Elmore said.

But it wasn’t only the American education system that drew conservative barbs Tuesday. Mr. Gorka also pointed out that the Southern Baptist Convention leadership last year signed onto a resolution to adopt critical race theory as an “analytical tool.”

Critical race theory posits that racism is manifested and maintained not merely in individuals but also in institutions and systems such as education, business and housing.

The Baptist convention’s 2019 resolution says, in part, “critical race theory and intersectionality should only be employed as analytical tools subordinate to Scripture — not as transcendent ideological frameworks; and be it further.”

“If you subscribe to critical race theory because you think it’s cool, you have just signed yourself excommunication,” Mr. Gorka said.

The panel also devoted critical attention to China, with Mr. Gorka even referring to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” — echoing a favorite phrase of President Trump’s.

Commentators noted the Confucius Institute, a nonprofit education group with roots in the Chinese Communist Party’s Education Ministry, after widespread backlash in the U.S. and other nations with charges of espionage or evangelizing for communist ideas on foreign soil.

Mr. Kirk called on donors to divest from U.S. universities that oppress American, conservative thought. But he also noted that the U.S. economy — with rising unemployment and economic stress for middle-income Americans — portends an inclination toward more socialist ideals.

“That sounds like a great potential market opportunity for [progressive Sens.] Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders,” Mr. Kirk said. “You’ll see a Bolshevik revolution in this country the likes of which you’d never thought possible.”

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