America’s enemies justifiably believe our academic institutions and values are for sale

News & Politics

An organization called the Network Contagion Research Institute released a study on Tuesday arguing that authoritarian Middle Eastern regimes have funneled more than $13 billion to 200 American universities and colleges.

Its report is titled “The Corruption of the American Mind: How Concealed Foreign Funding of U.S. Higher Educations Predicts Erosion of Democratic Values and Antisemitic Incidents on Campus.”

Bari Weiss, the former New York Times reporter turned independent truth teller, wrote a piece explaining the impact of the foreign influence on America’s college campuses. She focused primarily on linking the study to the support for Hamas and Palestinians in the aftermath of Hamas’ deadly attack on Israeli citizens.

Weiss wrote:

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The report finds that at least 200 American colleges and universities illegally withheld information on approximately $13 billion in undisclosed contributions from foreign regimes, many of which are authoritarian. Moreover, while correlation is not causation, they found that the number of reported antisemitic incidents on a given campus has a meaningful relationship to whether that university has received funding (disclosed and undisclosed) from regimes, or entities tied to regimes in the Middle East.

Weiss and the NCRI conclude that the universities receiving this money “support heightened levels of intolerance towards Jews, open inquiry, and free expression.”

Let me give my interpretation of the report and Weiss’ follow-up story: America — not just our academic institutions — is for sale. We have so little respect and appreciation for the sacrifices made by our forefathers and ancestors that virtually every American institution and individual can be bought for a price.

We can and should wag our fingers at college administrators and professors for accepting money from countries, oligarchs, and sheikhs who abhor American values and influence. But the reality is that we all played a role in fostering a culture that made us vulnerable to foreign influence.

Five years ago, I received an unwanted crash course in the kind of campus politics that spawns the opportunity for foreign investors to exercise outsized influence over our academic institutions.

In 2018, my alma mater, Ball State University, joined Louisville, Kentucky, and Purdue in booting “Papa John” Schnatter and his millions of dollars off campus. Schnatter, a Ball State grad and the founder of Papa John’s Pizza, found himself embroiled in an orchestrated controversy around the use of the “N-word.”

Schnatter in late 2017 criticized the NFL’s handling of Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem controversy. The enemies within his publicly traded pizza chain used the ginned-up “racial” controversy to oust Schnatter as CEO. Schnatter hired a public relations firm to help him navigate the fallout.

Corporate media spun Schnatter’s complaints to shareholders about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s mismanagement of Kaepernick as an act of racism. In a private meeting with the PR firm Schnatter hired, he wondered how criticizing a white commissioner added up to anti-black racism. He compared himself to another Kentucky fast-food legend from a different era.

“Colonel Sanders called blacks n***ers and Sanders never faced public outcry.”

The PR firm leaked Schnatter’s private statement. One by one, universities in Indiana and Kentucky stripped Papa John’s name from buildings and offered to return the money he previously donated to them.

Schnatter’s real crime was being a conservative Republican, someone who used his great wealth to protect the values and principles established by the nation’s founding fathers. College campuses do not tolerate that. The enemies of America are using our public institutions to brainwash young people into hating the U.S. Constitution and the men who wrote it.

For the better part of three years, starting in 2018, I worked relentlessly to get Papa John and his money back on Ball State’s campus. It never happened.

The truth is that American universities would rather take money from foreign countries than from self-made American billionaires like John Schnatter. Papa John started his pizza business in the closet of his dad’s neighborhood bar. He used money from the sale of his 1971 Camaro to open his business. He embodies what used to be the American dream: a small-town entrepreneur who made a fortune and then used some of that fortune to invest in future generations.

That’s no longer allowed.

It’s not allowed because men are weak. We choose the path of no resistance. We’re unwilling to sacrifice material gain for the greater good. Our enemies know this.

We’re all so fat and entitled that it never crosses our minds to make all the necessary sacrifices to maintain a level of freedom our ancestors created. We all have a price. We should not be surprised that our institutions do, too.

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