In her most recent grievance filing for the Daily Mail, Meghan McCain directs her ire at America’s supposedly “woke” colleges and universities, labeling them “modern academic cesspools” that “no child of mine will ever attend.” Piling her rhetorical plate high with conservative red meat, McCain calls Stanford Law students and faculty who recently protested a conservative judge’s speech “snowflakes”; conflates a CUNY Law graduate’s criticism of the Israeli government with “antisemitism”; and cites a University of Connecticut course on anti-black racism among the “anti-American, anti-free speech, anti-capitalist garbage” plaguing higher education.
“When the time comes,” McCain claims, her kids “may be among those choosing a job over a major.” McCain cites declining college enrollment numbers as proof that millions who share her view aren’t “buying what they’re selling,” and warns that “American Universities better recognize that before they fail out”—an invocation of the right’s “go woke, go broke” threat—perhaps hoping that the next target of conservative boycotts will be the country’s colleges.
If the object of McCain’s diatribe is to affirm her position as a righteous freethinker opposed to institutions that “no longer strive to teach students how to think, but what to think,” an odd way to go about it is with a column essentially stating that no one is going to tell McCain’s daughters how to think—except for her.
Ben Domenech, who since resigning from the Washington Post in 2006 over plagiarism has become a highly visible conservative pundit, is McCain’s husband. (He once called Coretta Scott King a “communist,” so do with that what you will.) That makes their home what conservatives like McCain otherwise consider a political “bubble”—at least, when both parents’ ideologies tilt left.
Instead of allowing her kids to explore a world beyond their Republican roots, McCain insists they have no exposure to ideas and ways of thinking that might let them decide for themselves how they see the world. “College is the last place I would pay for my kids to attend,” McCain writes, an admission that she wants to limit her kids’ experiences to one big conservative safe space. Most wealthy parents are loath to admit weaponizing their money to manipulatively control their children. Not McCain apparently.
Just as glaring is how McCain—like pretty much every conservative—so desperately wishes to pretend she’s a victim. “Who in their right mind,” McCain rhetorically asks, “would willingly subject themselves or their loved ones to hateful, irrational, woke indoctrination?” The only correct response is to ask what McCain finds so oppressive about the UConn course she cites that “introduces students to foundational history and concepts related to systemic and anti-Black racism”?
Yes, as McCain notes, the University of Colorado tells students that intentionally ignoring a person’s pronouns “is not only an act of oppression but can also be considered an act of violence”—but how are cisgender students harmed by not going out of their way to misgender their peers? McCain repeatedly gripes that colleges are against free speech, but then spends the bulk of her article complaining about students or faculty using their First Amendment rights in ways she finds objectionable.
What she truly wants is a return to a time when dominant groups spoke freely—in voices that were not infrequently homophobic, racist, transphobic or otherwise bigoted—without accountability, consequences, pushback, or public shaming. Someone should tell her not to worry, because there’s still plenty of misogyny and racism on college campuses.
McCain seems deluded by the idea that her children would in any way be hurt by attending a “woke”—and here I’m pretending that word means what McCain thinks it means—college? Her daughters, both of whom are still toddlers, will still be heirs to a multimillion dollar fortune. (Just like McCain was.) Both of their parents will be able to open countless doors for them. (As McCain’s parents, she has previously admitted, also did for her.) If her daughters chose to attend Columbia, their mother’s Ivy League alma mater, or William & Mary, which is merely a “public Ivy,” they’d have all their riches, a few new ideas, and a diploma. Hard to see how that ends tragically for them.
Funnily enough, McCain—who one year after graduating from Columbia in 2007 called it “probably the most liberal school in the United States”—has repeatedly said she “loved,” one calling it “the best decision of my life.” (Even in her Mail article, she writes that she “thrived” there.)
During her time there, in October 2006, the New York Times dedicated an entire article to “four separate free-speech controversies” in under a month on Columbia’s campus, including the brouhaha over a sexist ice hockey recruitment flyer, the Teacher’s College’s commitment to “social justice” and ensuing conservative opposition to the same, student protesters storming the stage during a speech by the founder of the hyper-xenophobic Minutemen Project, and protests that led the school to reverse a speaking invite to then-Iranian president and actual antisemite Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
When John McCain—did you know he was Meghan McCain’s father?—delivered Columbia’s commencement address in May 2006, “dozens” of students protested by turning their backs, booing the Senator’s speech, or opening umbrellas with the words “No War” and “Pro-Choice” written on them. As recently as 2019, McCain reportedly “credit[ed] the liberal environment on campus with teaching her how to be a good debater.” In 2008, she said pervasive liberalism at Columbia had helped her settle on her own conservative beliefs. So why’s she so afraid her kids aren’t capable of doing the same?
“McCain’s party is doing everything it can to erase LGBTQ folks, particularly transgender people, from just living their lives.”
Frankly, it’s silly for McCain to suggest that her daughters will face political persecution as the right is waging, and god forbid winning, one of the most revanchist education campaigns since massive resistance. Her favored candidate, Rob DeSantis, is doing everything he can denigrate and outlaw the study of black history; it’s only thanks to a federal court ruling that college professors can still discuss race, sexuality and gender identity.
McCain’s party is doing everything it can to erase LGBTQ folks, particularly transgender people, from just living their lives. The falling college numbers for Black kids are, study after study finds (beyond pandemic declines) due to the fact that they are forced to juggle too many activities, because college is expensive and they often don’t have the resources of their white peers—a result of systemic racism and lack of intergenerational wealth—and the level of anti-black racism on campuses.
While Republicans like Meghan McCain are out here talking about how college diplomas are devalued because liberal arts, humanities and wokeism make higher learning useless, they ignore that their policies—defunding state institutions and causing tuition hikes (especially at community colleges which serve large minority populations), opposing student debt relief (which, remember, Republicans claimed was racist because it sought to narrow the wealth gap)—drive down student numbers for everyone, but of course, especially for Black students. (And I won’t go into shit like the decimation of unions or tax plans that further income inequality.)
White folks without college degrees are still living better than debt-saddled black college graduates. The very thing that McCain hates so much—colleges attempting to make their students less racist and discriminatory than previous generations—is the key to having a functioning multiracial democracy. But Meghan McCain does not give a damn about that. For her there’s far more money to be made in whining about “wokeism.”
Post source: TDB