Trump announces executive order to cut off federal research funds for campuses that don’t protect free speech

Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd with many college-age conservatives in the audience at CPAC yesterday, President Trump announced that he will sign an executive order denying federal research funding to campuses that do not protect free speech. The promise came after he called to the stage Hayden Williams who was punched in the face on February 19 at the University of California, Berkeley, while manning a recruitment table for Turning Point USA.

Watch, as Trump calls Williams to the stage,

...allows him to speak, and then anounces his imminent signing of an executive order, as well as noting that Hayden will be a very wealthy young man after he sues his attacker and the university:

...and then embraces him warmly before he leaves the stage:

YouTube screen grabs

“We reject oppressive speech codes, censorship, political correctness and every other attempt by the hard left to stop people from challenging ridiculous and dangerous ideas. These ideas are dangerous,” Trump said. “Instead we believe in free speech, including online and including on campus.

“Today I’m proud to announce that I will be very soon signing an executive order requiring colleges and universities to support free speech if they want federal research grants….”

“If they want our dollars, and we give it to them by the billions, they’ve got to allow people like Hayden and many other great young people and old people to speak. Free speech. If they don’t, it will be very costly,” he warned.

The devil will be in the details of the executive order, of course. What will the criteria be for judging the required “support for free speech,” without which federal funds are imperiled? One guess would be that charging sponsors of conservative speakers excessive security fees that are not applied to other speakers will be forbidden. The concept of a “hostile environment,” which is beloved by attorneys suing on behalf of racial, sexual, and other minorities, is probably a bigger worry for campus administrators, though, because verbal and physical bashing of conservatives is widely regarded as normal and desirable in many segments of academia, and few dare openly challenge it. There will be evidence aplenty on many campuses of administrators remaining silent or ineffectual when consrvatives are ridiculed, silenced or assaulted.

Nothing scares university administrators more than the potential loss of federal funding. President Trump knows exactly what he is doing in targeting it. The education industry is a solid base for Democrats, and they have to defend it or risk losing enthusiasm and donations. Trump also knows that violent campus leftists attacking nonviolent conservatives appeal only to a small segment of the ultra-left, but do arouse significant revulsion among a majority of voters. His promise of an executive order will enrage his foes on campus, inviting them to criticize it. No doubt, he welcomes such criticism, as a way of keeping the issue front and center during the campaign. It is guaranteed to bait progressives into untenable arguments before the people vote on 2020.