- - Friday, February 25, 2022

The woke world is out of control. This week, a Wisconsin state lawmaker falsely stated that law enforcement started out as a racist profession while speaking on the floor of the State Assembly. Representative Jodi Emerson (D-Eau Claire) said, “If a system is racist, and we have to admit that the history of law enforcement did have its roots in racism, when it starts out as slave catchers I’m sorry it is racist.”

Yet another woke radical who doesn’t know her facts.

Hospitals and long-term care facilities were so short-staffed that many were requiring COVID-19 positive medical professionals to return to work. At the same time, doctors and nurses who did not have symptoms, but had not received a vaccination, were prohibited from working.

The woke agenda makes no sense. 

A liberal candidate for Governor in Virginia last fall said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” A Democrat lawmaker in Appleton last week posted a Tweet saying, “If parents want to “have a say” in their child’s education, they should home school or pay for private school tuition out of their family budget.” So many of the liberal politicians, teachers union bosses, and other radicals feel the same way but rarely say it out loud. 

Americans need to wake up. At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this week, we are talking about the importance of being awake, not woke. 

Our first American President George Washington warned, “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”  He would likely be shocked at what is happening at colleges and universities and in our culture today. 

Freedom of speech is protected by the U.S. Constitution, but it should be revered on college campuses. Sadly, that is where it is most under assault today. 

Cancel culture is real on woke campuses like the University of California - Berkeley. The group I now lead, Young America’s Foundation (YAF), worked with students to bring Ben Shapiro on campus as a speaker.  Administrators told the students they could not hold the event after three o’clock in the afternoon, they could not advertise, and they would have to pay security fees that were much higher than other student organizations.  

YAF took them to court. Ultimately, UC-Berkeley officials backed down, but conservatives should not have to go to court every time administrators try to block conservative voices on campus. 

What we are seeing today is more than just left-wing professors or liberal indoctrination. It is cancel culture. Radicals proclaim their commitment to tolerance and respect but ignore it when it comes to conservative viewpoints. Weak administrators are bowing to woke extremists. 

Students at Iowa State University, for example, were threatened by an English professor who threatened to dismiss anyone who voiced opposition to things like abortion or the Marxist organization Black Lives Matter. She falsely claimed that opposing her viewpoint was equivalent to believing that some people did not deserve the same basic human rights as other people. This is one of many stories we hear about from across the country.

One poll last year found that more than 80% of students report censoring their viewpoints at their colleges at least some of the time. Amazingly, 66% of students say it is acceptable to shout down a speaker to prevent them from speaking on campus, and 23% say it is acceptable to use violence to stop a campus speech. Sadly, we see frequent examples of this used against conservative students and speakers involved with YAF. 

For all of the talk about diversity on campuses today, the one area with little or no diversity is thought. The most endangered species at colleges and universities today is a conservative. 

So what can be done to fix this enormous problem?  Here are some ideas: Support organizations who train the next generation of leaders in the fight for freedom. Young America’s Foundation is one of a number of groups that work to train students to fight the woke agenda and cancel culture on campus. 

Support organizations that fight to defend free speech. Groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom work with conservative students and organizations on free speech rights. 

Lobby state governments to require true protection of free speech and some level of ideological balance. Require real enforcement measures for students and activists who disrupt the freedom of speech rights of other students. Withhold funding from schools that fail to enforce free speech protections. 

Encourage your federal lawmakers to join the Free Speech Caucus. The federal government can tie higher education aids to free speech protections. Universities react to funding. 

Withhold financial support from colleges and universities that oppose your values. At a minimum, don’t give to schools that violate the free speech rights of conservative students. The radicals have the attention of administrators. It is time to counter them. Withholding financial support works. 

We need to be awake, not woke. 

• Scott Walker is the president of Young America’s Foundation and served as the 45th governor of Wisconsin from 2011 to 2019.

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