The latest example of inappropriately-invoking-the-Nazis-to-highlight-your-personal- obsession comes from one of America’s dearest rightwing nuts, North Carolina Congresswoman Virginia Foxx.
Foxx, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, recently compared the Obama administration’s efforts to regulate for-profit colleges to the Holocaust. According to a piece by David Halperin in the Huffington Post:
Foxx, speaking to the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities on Tuesday, suggested to the leaders of those private, non-profit colleges that they should have actively opposed new rules proposed by the Obama administration to govern for-profit colleges and career training schools.
Foxx invoked the words of German theologian Martin Niemoller about his fellow countrymen who repeatedly failed to oppose Nazi abuses — “First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a communist.” “‘They came for the for-profits, and I didn’t speak up,’” Foxx told the audience.
Of course, what Niemoller meant by “came for” was arrest them, take their property, and then kill them. This is a little different from what’s going on with for-profit colleges.
It’s a little unclear what Foxx is worried about. What’s the scrutiny of for-profit colleges going to lead to next? Will the federal government reform federal financial aid to require colleges to keep costs down? Will it start looking more seriously at graduation rates?
Well yes, one hopes it will do those things. That’s the point. Frankly, as a supposed conservative guardian of taxpayer dollars—Foxx said in 2011 that “if it can’t prove the worth of a program, then it needs to examine itself. Wherever taxpayer dollars are being spent, there has to be accountability”—she might welcome oversight of for-profit colleges, some which derive up to 80 percent of their profit from federal financial aid dollars. The for-profit education industry last year received $33 billion a year in taxpayer funds. Students at such institutions account for about half of student loan defaults, though only 13 percent of college students attend such schools.
And also, who’s she kidding? Two years ago when the federal government “came for” the for-profits she very much spoke out, complaining when the Department of Education released its rules for financial aid at proprietary colleges that,
This punitive regulation piles more burdensome red tape onto a select group of higher education institutions and unfairly targets career colleges that create innovative programs to serve the needs of their communities. As a result, millions of students who attend career colleges stand to lose out on valuable opportunities for career advancement and technical education. The increasingly fragile economic recovery simply cannot afford another job-destroying federal regulation.
You’ve not only spoken out about government regulations of for-profit colleges, you’ve spoken out in the most extreme way possible. You invoked one of the worst atrocities in world history to indicate what you think is wrong with education regulations. I think you’ve done your part, Foxx.