In April, the New York Times sent a reporter to find out why Rep. Virginia Foxx, the Republican House education chair, was giving elite universities such a hard time.

Foxx was in the middle of uncovering a massive anti-Semitism scandal-in-waiting at these schools, and the Times couldn’t figure out why she cared. After all, the unspoken conceit of the piece suggested, it was only anti-Semitism.

Both the question and the answer were typical of the unwelcoming atmosphere after October 7 for Jews in blue metro areas of America and on elite college campuses. Why exactly, then, would the House education chair have to be motivated by a hidden agenda to investigate the highest echelons of education?

Ask stupid questions, get stupid answers, as the saying goes. The Times determined that Foxx, who turned 81 about a week ago, had been president of a community college thirty years ago, and was therefore carrying a chip on her shoulder when it came to places like Columbia and Harvard. “‘She is touchy about anything that implies community colleges are lower status institutions… Her loyalty to these institutions is real,’ said Peter Lake, director of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University College of Law.”

So we have two explanations for why Virginia Foxx was doing her job as a member of Congress and a chairman of one of its committees. The first: She was carrying out a multi-decade vengeance plan, which required her to get to Congress, climb the ladder of seniority, hold the chairmanship when Hamas carried out the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust, wait for campus radicals to react, then… pounce!

Or: She knows that anti-Semitism is bad, and its presence is almost always an indication of thorough institutional rot.

The answer, of course, is the latter. It’s true that you can reverse-engineer more cynical explanations for the Republican chair’s focus on anti-Semitism: for example, the issue divides Democrats and unites Republicans. Yet it also must be remembered that Foxx didn’t trick anyone. She simply subpoenaed college presidents, and the first batch of them put their own heads on the block. Nobody really understood how bad things had gotten in American academia until the heads of elite universities were asked questions only slightly more difficult than “what is your name” and they bellyflopped. One by one, they were unable to denounce mass-mob threats of genocide against Jews as harassment, a failing so spectacular it eventually led to Harvard President Claudine Gay and University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill losing their jobs.

In other words if, as the Times theorized, Foxx was suffering from some sort of inferiority complex, she shouldn’t have: It turned out the supposed “elites” could barely tie their shoes.

But no institution’s self-engineered implosion would match Columbia University’s, which has now arguably crossed the point of no return. Last month, four university administrators were suspended when photos of some of their text messages mocking Jewish students were published. Now Foxx’s committee has published the actual text chain. You can read the texts here. You can’t do much better for a summation than this paragraph from JTA: “Columbia University administrators said Jewish students occupied a ‘place of privilege,’ called a Hillel official a ‘problem’ and wrote ‘Amazing what $$$$ can do,’ during a panel on Jewish campus life in May, newly released text messages showed.

Three of these deans have now been placed on leave and will not return to their current positions. Which highlights what has gone mostly unacknowledged in all this: Foxx’s role, and that of her party’s congressional committee. What we now know about Columbia and many of these other “elite” institutions is that they are not simply “bureaucratically” hostile to Jews, via unofficial quotas and diversity protection rackets. Rather, they are run by, and made up of, a large number of people who are personally hostile to Jews—even though some of them are Jews themselves. For this to be the case is a scandal of massive proportions and an indictment of higher education root and branch.

And yet, the only consequences they have had to suffer so far are the result of Virginia Foxx’s willingness to do her job. The Department of Education under Joe Biden has federal oversight of these schools’ application of civil rights laws, yet has made clear it intends to abdicate that responsibility. In its report on the City University of New York, the Education Department promotes a false equivalence between anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, despite the former having been characterized by violence and the latter not. Its settlement with Columbia directs the school to make various accommodations to lessen the toll that the campus’s rampant anti-Semitism takes on students, but does less than nothing to actually stem the tide of Jew-hatred there.

Elsewhere in New York, District Attorney Alvin Bragg chose to drop most of the charges against most of the lawbreakers at Columbia and City College who took over buildings and in one case took a janitor hostage, while at both crime scenes police were attacked or interfered with. As the New York Times reported, “All the protesters whose cases were dropped were affiliated with the schools,” marking Bragg’s move as a clear attempt to protect the perpetrators and enablers of violent anti-Semitism on campus. The message this sends to other schools is clear: no consequences.

High-ranking Democrats have also shown that, were their party to attain the majority, the education committee would similarly abdicate its responsibilities. Democratic ranking member Bobby Scott of Virginia and others have spent the hearings complaining about a lack of attention paid to Islamophobia and other bigotry while demanding more money from the public to combat anti-Semitism, despite their clear unwillingness to actually use such funds to do so.

Foxx is the main conduit of information to the public on this pressing issue, and she is the primary reason there have been any consequences at all for the surge in violent Jew-hatred on campus. The committee is doing its job. It would be nice if other officials in a position of responsibility would join the effort.

Photo: Francis Chung/POLITICO

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