A Republican senator actually just called out Trump's hypocritical order on campus 'free speech'

A Republican senator actually just called out Trump's hypocritical order on campus 'free speech'
Rep Mo Brooks office

As President Donald Trump is rolling out his hypocritical executive order supposedly opposing attacks on free speech at college campuses — a concern that has been largely overinflated by conservative writers who prefer to ignore rank bigotry in American society — at least one Republican senator decided to call out the administration's hypocrisy.

The order, titled "Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities," will instruct "Federal agencies to ensure public and private institutions of higher education are upholding the First Amendment or their stated policies on free speech," the White House said Thursday.

Trump said that the order is aimed at“professors and power structures” who try to keep young Americans “from challenging rigid, far-left ideology,” echoing much of the breathless conservative coverage of college campuses.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), however, was not impressed.

"I agree that colleges should punish hecklers who veto free speech, and stop coddling students to protect them from disagreeable points of view," he said in a statement. "But I don’t want to see Congress or the President or the department of anything creating speech codes to define what you can say on campus."

He added: "The U.S. Constitution guarantees free speech. Federal courts define and enforce it. The Department of Justice can weigh in. Conservatives don’t like it when judges try to write laws, and conservatives should not like it when legislators and agencies try to rewrite the Constitution.”

Alexander didn't note, though he could have, that Trump's posturing as a champion of free speech is patently absurd. He frequently attacks the media, and he has cheered on violence against the press. In so doing, he has provided coverage for authoritarians abroad to crack down on media scrutiny. And domestically, he had reportedly sought to punish Amazon apparently because he doesn't like the coverage from the Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Similarly, reporting suggests that he sought to use the Justice Department to punish Time Warner for CNN's critical coverage. He has even openly threatened NBC's license over its critical news stories.

If there's a real threat to free speech the country should be worrying about, it's coming from the Oval Office.


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