Herewith Newt Gingrich (as reported by The National Review), former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and still prominent spokesman of the American right (which now runs the country, in case you forgot):
We ought to say to [state university] campuses, it’s over…We should say to state legislatures, why are you making us pay for this? Boards of regents are artificial constructs of state law. Tenure is an artificial social construct. Tenure did not exist before the twentieth century, and we had free speech before then. You could introduce a bill that says, proof that you’re anti-American is grounds for dismissal.
Why stop there? Why not "proof that you didn't vote for George W. Bush is grounds for dismissal"? Or how about "proof that you don't believe in God," since that's tantamount to being anti-American anyway? Such a law is obviously unconstitutional, but this apparently didn't bother Herr Gingrich.
Periodically, I come across innocent souls in the blogosphere who think my talk of incipient "fascism" and "authoritarianism" in America is overblown rhetoric, hyperbole. I very much hope it is. But Newt Gingrich is not the lunatic fringe of American public opinion (he is lunatic, to be sure, but he is not on the fringe). He is a powerful spokesman for conservatives, who hold most of the political power in America today, and he has here made a policy proposal indistinguishable--except in specific content ("anti-Americanism")--from the kind favored by the Nazis with respect to the universities:
On 7 April 1933, the Law for the Restoration of the German Civil Service ordered the dismissal of persons whose political and religious backgrounds made them unfit to work as civil servants of the Reich. In four crucial articles, the law specified the categories for "cleaning up" the civil service, to which professors belonged....Article 4 demanded the termination of the appointments of civil servants who were considered politically unreliable, a clause that applied to alleged communists and socialists....Under the April 7th law, all security of position, including tenure, was eradicated.
Will the courts push back when the proposals turn in to legislation? As we know from Geoffrey Stone's recent scholarship, they have not always, even when the laws were as blatantly unconstitutional as the one proposed here.
UPDATE: InstaIgnorance exceeds his billing on this one. You can almost feel his Schadenfreude at the prospect of an American "Restoration of the Public University Act." (Thanks to an anonymous reader for the pointer.)