The Obama Museum: the Education Wing

The Obama presidency has been among the worst in American history but will the disaster be remembered? No easy task, given the Left’s cultural domination. Conceivably, in a few decades millions of youngsters might well learn that our first African-American president was a hero who wonderfully uplifted America.

To overcome this awaiting beatification, let me suggest a Washington DC museum cataloging his ineptitude. Here grade-schoolers on class trips and other visitors could listen to his error-filled speech celebrating Islam’s contribution American life or learn how with only a pen and phone he rewrote the U.S. Constitution.

Especially prominent will be a spacious Policy Wing exhibiting his countless ill-advised schemes, everything from ObamaCare to the transgendered bathroom fiasco. But, with so many possibilities, it is not easy to pick the worst but let me nominate one candidate: a recent White House directive that requires colleges and universities to cease asking applicants about their school disciplinary and criminal past since minorities (i.e., African Americans) are more likely to be “justice involved individuals.” The aim is to remove “barriers” to college (actually, at Colorado College a criminal past may be judged a plus in the admission process).

College admission officers are further being asked to ignore academic dishonesty, e.g., cheating on exams, plagiarism, because here, too, offenders are disproportionately minorities. These criminal encounters, moreover, are not necessarily indicators of flawed character -- they could easily be a result of racial profiling, stereotyping, and similar biases. Once admitted, these students will receive extra counseling and legal advice plus coaching to assure a smooth transition to graduation. In fact, so pressing is America’s need for minority college graduates that the White House missive suggests universities dispatch recruiters to jails to ferret out college applicants.    

Clearly, White House experts now have a novel and mind-boggling view of fighting crime. To wit, sending former miscreants to college will push them away from crime, so punishing them can only increase crime since colleges will reject those with a criminal record. That is, the greater the retribution the more the crime. So, according to the new logic, if Michael Brown were not incarcerated for stealing a box of Philly Blunts, he would be more likely to be admitted to college and with diploma in hand, live a crime-free life.   

Whether a specific miscreant will benefit from this non-punitive policy is indisputable, but what about his neighbors who do not commit crimes? Tough luck. A more plausible argument is that swapping college for prison will only boost crime in largely black neighborhoods and predominantly black schools. In other words, Obama has it backwards.    

The collateral damage hardly stops there. What about all the campus folk now encountering these newly admitted high-school troublemakers and ex-cons? Keep in mind that compared to impoverished crime-ridden inner-cities, university campuses are target rich for robbery, drug-dealing, and rape. Conceivably, an uptick in campus crime will spur litigation -- I can already anticipate lawyers for the rape victim arguing that the administration knowingly endangered their client by welcoming a convicted rapist and then failing to alert students of the predator. Upping the campus criminal population will also require additional campus police, adding security cameras, and require heightened student due diligence -- avoiding places where black students congregate or traveling only in groups to minimize assaults. In other words, put thousands of college kids at risk to promote some crackpot “racial justice.”  

Keep in mind that federal law requires schools to report campus crime, and a sudden surge in these numbers could well shrink enrollments, no small liability for tuition-dependent non-elite schools. Recall how many urban colleges liked New York University suffered during the crime-ridden 70’s and 80’s -- why should parents spend $50,000 to risk junior being mugged? Campuses, even in once safe locations may now become ghost towns at sunset.

A peculiar irony exists here: colleges obsess over the “rape culture” yet the Obama administration wants schools to admit ex-cons, some of whom are convicted rapists. But not all convicted rapists are equal. Picture the outrage if a WASPy male were admitted to Harvard after spending ten years in the slammer for multiple rapes? Would similar outrage occur if Harvard were forced to admit a black with the identical rap sheet? In the case of the white, Harvard puts its students at risk; in the case of the latter, Harvard is removing a barrier while slowing down the school-to-prison pipeline. So much for color-blind justice.     

Can intensive remediation really uplift those who have spent years up to no good? Who knows but I would not be optimistic, thought one thing is certain -- even more bloating of campus bureaucracies. The Obama administration also views this initiative as somehow making a college education more available but the opposite is more likely: the necessary higher tuition to cover all the expenses of this social engineering would make college even less accessible to poorer students. A more sensible strategy would be to admit a few low-maintenance, academically proficient Asians versus a single high-maintenance African American ex-con.

Finally, this is a harebrained “magic parchment” theory of higher education: merely owning a diploma will secure the bountifulness of a middle-class life. Imagine a Joe College who struggled in high school or was occasionally arrested for drug-dealing. Now, however, he goes off to college where, the Obama administration happily assumes, he foregoes all previous bad habits all the while availing himself of  24/7 assistance. Thanks to constant mentoring he dutifully completes all assignments, regularly visits his many tutors and otherwise follows the arduous path to academic success. Finally Joe has his diploma in hand, perhaps in Black Studies and then ventures out to a world bereft of any support services. What are the odds of Joe College entering the middle class? Despite his magic sheepskin, I’d guess near zero. Actually, Joe has provided great employment for others but he personally has achieved little of value for himself.

Now, what gives Obama the legal authority to ban institutions of higher education from refusing to admit troublemakers, including convicted felons? The justification rests on a twisted interpretation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that prevents post-secondary schools from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, disability and sex in admission. (Ironically, the Obama administration regularly tries to violate the 1964 Act by pushing race-based preferences in higher education, but that contradictory interpretation goes unmentioned.)

But, past misbehavior is not covered by Title VI’s ban, so how can the act be twisted to bar rejecting criminals? Easy -- since blacks disproportionately commit crimes, past illegal behavior becomes a de facto proxy for race even though, of course, most criminals are not black. Think about the head-spinning stereotypical “logic” here -- “black” is a code word for people who violate the law so, QED: excluding criminals from college is racially discriminatory.

It is hardly exaggerated to say that this policy is a perfect storm of government stupidity, flawed legal reasoning, and misguided helpfulness (Though to be fair, the willful blindness policy will be a godsend for largely white schools to recruit troubled black athletes.) And every flaw is patently obvious. It rests on a half-baked theory of human nature -- less punishment will bring less bad behavior -- and will impose multiple but unacknowledged costs. The only beneficiaries will be those employed to assist in this pointless task.

Hopefully, young museum visitors will say:

“Grandpa told me about how bad things were under Obama, but I had no idea that they were this bad. Daddy, can I buy a 3D hologram version of this story in the gift shop?

"Sorry son, the Museum closes at 5:00 and I promised your sister that we would visit Race to the Top.”  

The Obama presidency has been among the worst in American history but will the disaster be remembered? No easy task, given the Left’s cultural domination. Conceivably, in a few decades millions of youngsters might well learn that our first African-American president was a hero who wonderfully uplifted America.

To overcome this awaiting beatification, let me suggest a Washington DC museum cataloging his ineptitude. Here grade-schoolers on class trips and other visitors could listen to his error-filled speech celebrating Islam’s contribution American life or learn how with only a pen and phone he rewrote the U.S. Constitution.

Especially prominent will be a spacious Policy Wing exhibiting his countless ill-advised schemes, everything from ObamaCare to the transgendered bathroom fiasco. But, with so many possibilities, it is not easy to pick the worst but let me nominate one candidate: a recent White House directive that requires colleges and universities to cease asking applicants about their school disciplinary and criminal past since minorities (i.e., African Americans) are more likely to be “justice involved individuals.” The aim is to remove “barriers” to college (actually, at Colorado College a criminal past may be judged a plus in the admission process).

College admission officers are further being asked to ignore academic dishonesty, e.g., cheating on exams, plagiarism, because here, too, offenders are disproportionately minorities. These criminal encounters, moreover, are not necessarily indicators of flawed character -- they could easily be a result of racial profiling, stereotyping, and similar biases. Once admitted, these students will receive extra counseling and legal advice plus coaching to assure a smooth transition to graduation. In fact, so pressing is America’s need for minority college graduates that the White House missive suggests universities dispatch recruiters to jails to ferret out college applicants.    

Clearly, White House experts now have a novel and mind-boggling view of fighting crime. To wit, sending former miscreants to college will push them away from crime, so punishing them can only increase crime since colleges will reject those with a criminal record. That is, the greater the retribution the more the crime. So, according to the new logic, if Michael Brown were not incarcerated for stealing a box of Philly Blunts, he would be more likely to be admitted to college and with diploma in hand, live a crime-free life.   

Whether a specific miscreant will benefit from this non-punitive policy is indisputable, but what about his neighbors who do not commit crimes? Tough luck. A more plausible argument is that swapping college for prison will only boost crime in largely black neighborhoods and predominantly black schools. In other words, Obama has it backwards.    

The collateral damage hardly stops there. What about all the campus folk now encountering these newly admitted high-school troublemakers and ex-cons? Keep in mind that compared to impoverished crime-ridden inner-cities, university campuses are target rich for robbery, drug-dealing, and rape. Conceivably, an uptick in campus crime will spur litigation -- I can already anticipate lawyers for the rape victim arguing that the administration knowingly endangered their client by welcoming a convicted rapist and then failing to alert students of the predator. Upping the campus criminal population will also require additional campus police, adding security cameras, and require heightened student due diligence -- avoiding places where black students congregate or traveling only in groups to minimize assaults. In other words, put thousands of college kids at risk to promote some crackpot “racial justice.”  

Keep in mind that federal law requires schools to report campus crime, and a sudden surge in these numbers could well shrink enrollments, no small liability for tuition-dependent non-elite schools. Recall how many urban colleges liked New York University suffered during the crime-ridden 70’s and 80’s -- why should parents spend $50,000 to risk junior being mugged? Campuses, even in once safe locations may now become ghost towns at sunset.

A peculiar irony exists here: colleges obsess over the “rape culture” yet the Obama administration wants schools to admit ex-cons, some of whom are convicted rapists. But not all convicted rapists are equal. Picture the outrage if a WASPy male were admitted to Harvard after spending ten years in the slammer for multiple rapes? Would similar outrage occur if Harvard were forced to admit a black with the identical rap sheet? In the case of the white, Harvard puts its students at risk; in the case of the latter, Harvard is removing a barrier while slowing down the school-to-prison pipeline. So much for color-blind justice.     

Can intensive remediation really uplift those who have spent years up to no good? Who knows but I would not be optimistic, thought one thing is certain -- even more bloating of campus bureaucracies. The Obama administration also views this initiative as somehow making a college education more available but the opposite is more likely: the necessary higher tuition to cover all the expenses of this social engineering would make college even less accessible to poorer students. A more sensible strategy would be to admit a few low-maintenance, academically proficient Asians versus a single high-maintenance African American ex-con.

Finally, this is a harebrained “magic parchment” theory of higher education: merely owning a diploma will secure the bountifulness of a middle-class life. Imagine a Joe College who struggled in high school or was occasionally arrested for drug-dealing. Now, however, he goes off to college where, the Obama administration happily assumes, he foregoes all previous bad habits all the while availing himself of  24/7 assistance. Thanks to constant mentoring he dutifully completes all assignments, regularly visits his many tutors and otherwise follows the arduous path to academic success. Finally Joe has his diploma in hand, perhaps in Black Studies and then ventures out to a world bereft of any support services. What are the odds of Joe College entering the middle class? Despite his magic sheepskin, I’d guess near zero. Actually, Joe has provided great employment for others but he personally has achieved little of value for himself.

Now, what gives Obama the legal authority to ban institutions of higher education from refusing to admit troublemakers, including convicted felons? The justification rests on a twisted interpretation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that prevents post-secondary schools from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, disability and sex in admission. (Ironically, the Obama administration regularly tries to violate the 1964 Act by pushing race-based preferences in higher education, but that contradictory interpretation goes unmentioned.)

But, past misbehavior is not covered by Title VI’s ban, so how can the act be twisted to bar rejecting criminals? Easy -- since blacks disproportionately commit crimes, past illegal behavior becomes a de facto proxy for race even though, of course, most criminals are not black. Think about the head-spinning stereotypical “logic” here -- “black” is a code word for people who violate the law so, QED: excluding criminals from college is racially discriminatory.

It is hardly exaggerated to say that this policy is a perfect storm of government stupidity, flawed legal reasoning, and misguided helpfulness (Though to be fair, the willful blindness policy will be a godsend for largely white schools to recruit troubled black athletes.) And every flaw is patently obvious. It rests on a half-baked theory of human nature -- less punishment will bring less bad behavior -- and will impose multiple but unacknowledged costs. The only beneficiaries will be those employed to assist in this pointless task.

Hopefully, young museum visitors will say:

“Grandpa told me about how bad things were under Obama, but I had no idea that they were this bad. Daddy, can I buy a 3D hologram version of this story in the gift shop?

"Sorry son, the Museum closes at 5:00 and I promised your sister that we would visit Race to the Top.”