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LARRY KUDLOW: Biden hasn't lifted a finger to enforce civil rights laws

FOX Business host Larry Kudlow reacts to antisemitic protests on college campuses following the October 7 attack on Israel.

As governor of California, Ronald Reagan knew how to stop campus radicals from shutting down University of California, Berkeley and other state colleges and universities. Back in his gubernatorial campaign announcement in 1966, Reagan said the following: 

RONALD REAGAN: "Will we allow a great university to be brought to its knees by a noisy dissident minority? Will we meet their neurotic vulgarities with vacillation and weakness? Or will we tell those entrusted with administering the university we expect them to enforce a code based on decency, common sense and dedication to the high and noble purpose of that university?" 

Later that year, he also said: "What in heaven’s name does academic freedom have to do with rioting, with anarchy, with attempts to destroy the primary purpose of the university, which is to educate our young people?"


Big hat tip to Newt Gingrich for reminding us. Last week, Speaker Mike Johnson went to Columbia University and called for the resignation of President Minouche Shafik unless she could restore campus order. Well, after today's missed deadline -- which is about the fourth missed deadline -- it looks like President Shafik should, in fact, resign because she hasn't restored order, and nothing has changed.

This is exactly the kind of pandering that Reagan hated and he said later on as governor: "I am sick and tired of the argument about whether some effort to enforce law and order is going to escalate anything at all. The plain truth of the matter is this has to stop, and it has to stop like the day before yesterday, and it is going to be stopped, whatever it takes." 

Then there's another key angle to Columbia and the antisemitic campus disruptions across the country and that is Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: "No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." 

The hate crimes of antisemitism would certainly qualify under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. That bill, pushed hard by President Lyndon Johnson, was passed with significant Republican votes in the Senate, mainly because the Dixiecrat senators from the South would not sign on to something forcing equality for Black people. That was the main push in those days. 

In a sense, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was necessary because the great emancipation amendments -- the 13th, 14th, and 15th pushed by President Abraham Lincoln while he was alive -- were never truly enforced during the next hundred years. I reckon the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the best thing LBJ ever did in his rather tortured time as president. 

There is yet a third angle to this wave of antisemitism that is endangering the lives of Jewish students who are suffering from hate speech and hate actions: Cut off federal funding. 

The bipartisan "Open The Books" website has the numbers to show that the increase in federal money being given to colleges is greater than even the increase in tuition payments charged by those colleges. 

In Columbia University's case, between 2018 and 2022, the university received $5.8 billion in contracts and grants. This, while Columbia's endowment during that period increased from $10.5 billion to $13.3 billion.

So, when Donald Trump last week argued that the spread of antisemitism is not only violating civil rights discrimination laws, but also should lead to tax increases and heavy fines for those colleges like Columbia and so many others that continue to appease the virulent virus of antisemitism and hate crimes, he was right on target. 

Meanwhile, Joe Biden hasn't lifted a finger to enforce civil rights laws or threaten financial punishment for recalcitrant colleges. Why isn't President Biden ordering his Justice Department to send the FBI to these campuses to investigate federal crimes under the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Why isn't Biden threatening these college presidents and demanding that they restore campus law and order, exactly the way Ronald Reagan did under similar circumstances so many years ago? 

Those are questions for the ages, but they are also important questions for this election. 

This article is adapted from Larry Kudlow’s opening commentary on the April 29, 2024, edition of "Kudlow."   

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