(Scroll down for latest updates)
Kansas hasn’t voted for a Democrat in presidential elections since 1964. From 1995 to 2002 and from 2011 to 2017, Republicans in Topeka held the iron trifecta of the governor’s mansion, the state House and the state Senate. In 2016, Donald Trump walloped Hillary Clinton in this quintessential red state by a 57-36 margin.
So why is it that, in 2020, a mainstream conservative Christian college student under fire by a violence-inciting campus mob can’t find a single prominent Republican in the Sunflower State to uphold and defend his free speech rights?
Jaden McNeil is a 21-year-old Kansas State University undergrad, former Turning Point USA chapter leader, and founder of America First Students. Since quitting TPUSA last year over its shocking embrace of drag queens, open borders and a “culture of censorship,” McNeil has been attacked by left-wing journalists and tarred through guilt by association. Local reporters such as Judy Thomas at the Kansas City Star have regurgitated baseless lies that McNeil (who I’ve known since last year and consider a friend and rising conservative star) is connected to “white nationalism” for advocating traditional social conservatism and an end to mass migration.
McNeil also refuses to bend his knee to Black Lives Matter, unlike so many swamp conservatives folding like cheap origami these days. On June 25, the young KSU student tweeted an edgy joke about BLM hero George Floyd:
“Congratulations to George Floyd on being drug free for an entire month!”
The snarky line is a variation on a common internet commemoration of the deaths of drug-addicted celebrities. You may think it’s bad humor or brilliant humor but newsflash: It’s humor. No matter. In end-stage America, where we are now governed by the wokest of the insane and indignant, there is no bigger human rights violation than a George Floyd joke.
Please respect my decision. pic.twitter.com/S74a0hwPYe
— christianna mae (@chrissycarr4) June 26, 2020
K-State freshman quarterback Jaren Lewis fulminated:
“We are demanding that Kansas State University put a policy in place that allows a student to be dismissed for displaying openly racist, threatening or disrespectful action toward a student or groups of students. We have resolved that we cannot play, practice, or meet until these demands are heard and actions taken.” K-State Democrats will hold a march this weekend calling for McNeil’s head.
In response, KSU president Richard Myers proclaimed that “Black Lives Matter” and immediately pledged “to fast-track action plans to combat racism and bigotry and other forms of social injustice.” KSU vice president for student life Thomas Lane attacked McNeil for lacking “basic decency.” The school has launched an “immediate review” of its “options.”
The adults in charge poured virtue-signaling fuel on a riotous fire, resulting in an avalanche of violent death threats and doxxing of McNeil’s family:
“KICK JADEN MCNEIL OUT OR WE WILL HANDLE HIM OURSELVES. This is not a threat, it’s a promise!!” a Twitter user exclaimed. “I swear to God you better never show your face in public in the state of Kansas. F–kin dead man.”
Another user named Billy threatened: “I don’t know who you are but I hope your (gets) face stomped in. If no one has, I’ll do it.”
An Instagram user messaged McNeil: “White cracker n—a ur gonna die.”
“People are more upset about this tweet than they are about George Floyd robbing a pregnant woman at gunpoint,” McNeil bluntly noted. Twitter, the supposedly neutral platform, forced McNeil to delete both his original joke and his observation about the selective outrage because the company claimed, the tweets were “glorifying violence.”
In the meantime, not a single Kansas Republican has risen to condemn the threats against McNeil, nor defended his rights to free speech and free association. The academic liberty champions of FIRE, however, sent off a letter to KSU President Myers on Monday firmly reminding the school that “the First Amendment bars KSU from punishing or investigating McNeil for his tweets.”
Robert Shibley, FIRE’s executive director, told me:
“Kansas State may say that it is reviewing its ‘options’ in response to a demand that a student be kicked out for an unpopular tweet, but it knows those options don’t include meeting that demand—at least not legally. The free speech guarantees that some students demand be denied to others are the only thing that protects them from being the next casualty of shifting political winds.”
Shibley added: “The many attempts to silence dissenting voices in the past few weeks point to a profound failure among universities nationwide to maintain the climate of free inquiry that gives them purpose. Censorship does nothing to persuade its targets that their views are ‘wrong’—only that they must lie about them, or stay silent. While this may result in a temporary political benefit, driving views underground is a ticking time bomb for a democratic society.”
Unapologetic nationalist conservative students like Jaden McNeil are under siege at publicly funded universities—not just at blue state Ivy League schools or crazy California Marxist echo chambers but smack dab in the middle of red state America. Conservatism Inc.’s multimillion-dollar decades-old culture war is an abysmal failure. The kids deserve better.
I asked KSU president Richard Myers the following questions yesterday afternoon and have received no reply as of 9:30am Eastern time this morning:
1) What steps are you and your institution taking to protect Mr. McNeil’s First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association?
2) Have you condemned the death threats against Mr. McNeil and will you be issuing a statement against the incitement of violence against conservative students on campus?
3) What steps are you taking to ensure that Mr. McNeil’s organization, America First Students, is protected from unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination as protesters lobby the university to chase his group off campus?
Update 11:00am Eastern 7/1/20. K State president Richard Myers has unveiled The Plan To Mollify The Mob.
What’s the matter with Kansas State University? EVERYTHING.
Dear K-State Community,
Recent national events and #BlackAtKState bring into clear focus how much work needs to be done to address racial and social injustice issues at our university. The university has committed to developing meaningful, measurable action plans with concrete steps.
These proposed steps take into account the reality that, as a governmental entity, we must operate within the law. There have been many calls for us to expel a student who posted racist messages on social media, and while these messages are disrespectful and abhorrent, we cannot violate the law.
What we can do is use these incidents as a catalyst to more crisply define the way we will work to stop hate at K-State and combat racism on our campuses. These initial steps have been based on the many voices heard so far, we will continue to listen and develop actions based on the many voices in our community.
Toward creating a more inclusive K-State, we commit to the following action steps.
Student-Related Action Steps:
1. Create a Student Ombudsperson Office in collaboration between the Provost, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, and Vice President for Student Life to advocate for students experiencing a campus climate concern.
2. Establish a work group to analyze and make recommendations regarding all university policies, including discrimination and harassment policies and the Student Code of Conduct, with the goal of identifying and addressing institutional bias and barriers through an anti-racist lens.
3. Increase recruitment efforts with the aim of raising enrollment of students of color to meet or exceed the state of Kansas demographics.
4. Increase efforts to raise retention and graduation rates of students of color with annual measurable goals.
5. Increase the amount of need-based scholarships with annual measurable goals. Additionally, this next fiscal year’s voluntary salary reductions from administrative leaders will go directly towards need-based scholarships for students.
6. Improve the process for receiving complaints of discrimination.
7. Develop a policy on social media usage for students that balances our institutional values and free speech. Currently one exists for faculty and staff.
8. Initiate a “Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation” campaign through Student Life modeled after the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ program to develop and track progress on co-curricular equity initiatives.
Faculty-Staff Related Action Steps:
9. Increase hiring and retention efforts for faculty and staff of color with the goal of meeting or exceeding relevant local, state, and national labor market demographics.
10. Work with the colleges and faculty to adopt the U.S. multicultural overlay as a universitywide model.
11. Develop and offer mandatory cultural competency workshops for faculty and staff.
A publicly available dashboard for measuring progress and identifying accountable university leaders for each of the above action steps will be developed. These commitments are an initial response and further action steps will be encouraged to be added by additional university units and through our shared governance process.
We will ensure students, faculty and staff of color are at the table along with other underrepresented groups as the above action steps move forward. Work on this plan begins immediately and progress will be reported monthly to the university community.
Richard B. Myers
President of Kansas State University