When free speech advocates talk about the people they consider allies, it’s rather rare they are mentioning members of Donald Trump’s cabinet. Those advocates from organizations like the ACLU might feel as though the Trump administration is not one that likes the first amendment all that much, but it appears there is at least one member of the group that wants to be seen as a friend.
To recap, during the campaign, Donald Trump made comments that alarmed people like voicing his desire to limit the first amendment from time to time. He has also talked about how much he likes the idea of being able to rule the country much like a dictator does. The President also called people that didn’t applaud for his State of the Union speech, “traitors.” None of those things scream, “friend of free speech.”
Despite those antics, Betsy Devos got up on stage at last week’s CPAC and talked about how she wants to help make sure that free speech is protected on college campuses. Among the things DeVos said, is that when she went to school, the college campus was a place of diverse ideas. She claimed that she wants to make sure that sooner or later, the campus becomes that kind of place again. Those who were likely energized by those comments were also likely a bit worried considering who she works for.
The place where she was talking about this free speech also likely gave liberals pause. CPAC was the same place where members of the NRA claimed that Barack Obama and congressional Democrats wanted to build a socialist utopia. They claimed that the Democrats don’t like America. They don’t like the constitution.
When you take those comments and then put them into the context of “defending free speech” one has to wonder just what the end game of talking about colleges and not allowing free speech might be. Perhaps there is no end game. Perhaps Betsy DeVos is someone who truly believes the colleges have taken a step back when it comes to allowing speech of any kind to go unchecked and allowed to flourish. DeVos is certainly holding herself up as someone who wants to make sure that people are allowed to have a free exchange of ideas on campus. Of course, it was this kind of talk that DeVos was using to hide her desires to shut down public education in parts of the country and replace it with private institutions.
When she was first nominated as the secretary of education, Democrats aligned against her specifically because they were afraid that she was going to do last damage to public schools. while she appears to be someone who wants to advance any and all views, the stage she was speaking on has to be taken into consideration. CPAC isn’t a conference that claims to be bipartisan. It’s not a conference that claims to be speaking for both sides. DeVos being a guest at CPAC alone colors her comments and paints them with a certain brush.
To learn more, visit http://www.betsydevos.com/.