In criticizing the private college presidents, Representative Virginia Foxx, the North Carolina Republican who leads the subcommittee on higher education, adapted the famous statement from the German theologian Martin Niemöller on Germans who ignored Nazi persecution. ("First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a communist.")O the humanity! What's next? First they came with regulations for the for-profits, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a for-profit college. Then they came with regulations for the—what do you think? Then they came for the mountaintop removal mining companies, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a mountaintop removal mining company? Anyway, truly we are on the road to another Holocaust if we don't speak out for the for-profit colleges, and surely the strongest spokeswoman for keeping us off that road is one who's also said, "I have very little tolerance for people who tell me that they graduate with $200,000 of debt or even $80,000 of debt because there’s no reason for that."
" 'They came for the for-profits, and I didn't speak up...' " Foxx said. "Nobody really spoke up like they should have."
Actually, where there is a lot of reason for that is exactly in the for-profit colleges, which are almost entirely funded by government student loan money, using deceptive marketing practices targeted at veterans to draw in extra government money via the GI Bill. Add that fierce push to get ill-informed people to take out student loans on the basis of misleading information to astonishingly low graduation rates when compared with nonprofit colleges, and you get the high student loan default rates of the for-profit college industry.
And these predatory institutions are what Foxx sees as today's version of the communists, socialists, trade unionists, Jews, and Catholics of Niemoller's powerful description of how the Holocaust gained strength through the silence of bystanders. Oh, sure, a Foxx staffer said "of course" Foxx didn't actually mean that regulating for-profit colleges is like the Holocaust, but exactly what other inference are we supposed to draw from her invocation of such famed, charged words? I mean, Virginia Foxx is really stupid and really bought-and-paid-for by the for-profit college industry, so on some level nothing she says means much of anything in any literal sense. But at the same time, there are lines, you know? Or there should be, even if with some people there clearly aren't.