Latest Right-Wing Hustle Is Starting a "University" That Promises "Forbidden Courses"
Bari Weiss and a lineup of right-wing hacks and charlatans are bilking donors out of cash for a school that doesn't exist
A “university” promising to teach students the kind of “forbidden” knowledge they won’t find anywhere else lacks a campus, accreditation, and courses—but features a murderer’s row of censorious right-wing activists.
Announced via Bari Weiss’s blog Monday morning, The “University” of Austin promises “an education rooted in the pursuit of truth” which, as board member Pano Kanelos writes, “is the antidote to the kind of ignorance and incivility that is everywhere around us.”
The “university,” as you might expect, will deliver on none of those things. It’s Prager U for the upscale bigot set.
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Weiss, who famously advocated relentlessly for the firing of pro-Palestinian professors at Columbia, is an odd choice for an announcement of a “school” dedicated to truth.
But she’s hardly the only questionable name associated with the “university”.
Heather Heying, a former professor at The Evergreen State College, is an anti-vax crank. Andrew Sullivan, the famous blogger, regularly indulges all manner of racist and transphobic tropes. Niall Ferguson is a historian with a limited knowledge and understanding of, well, history. And on and on.
There are also two board members—Larry Summers and Steven Pinker—whose association with deceased pedophile Jeffrey Epstein should set off warning bells for any young coeds interested in attending the “school”.
The “university” doesn’t really appear to be more than another right-wing scam. The physical address is the offices of RashChapman, an oil and gas law firm; the financial backer of the “school,” Cicero Research, is a non-profit with nothing to declare in its filings and is run by entrepreneur and Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale; and the accreditation the “university” is seeking is from a regional accreditor that doesn’t operate in Texas, as Jacob Bacharach notes on Twitter.
The “university” makes pretty clear what its aim is in its fundraising appeals, telling supporters without gobs of cash that if they want to help they can post on social media about the school.
It’s a familiar playbook: drum up fake controversy, get funding from far-right billionaires, court social media anger, rinse and repeat.
Yes, even giving this obvious hustle the attention of a blog post is feeding into the program. But this NFT of universities is just too laughable not to mock.
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