Education Department funding Middle East Studies Centers pushing 'anti-West ideologies': new report

DOE is doling out $2.9M to university-affiliated programs that have morphed from centers of scholarship in area studies into hotbeds of leftist propaganda and activism, according to National Association of Scholars.

Updated: November 13, 2022 - 12:50am

The Golden Horseshoe is a weekly designation from Just The News intended to highlight egregious examples of wasteful taxpayer spending by the government. The award is named for the horseshoe-shaped toilet seats for military airplanes that cost the Pentagon a whopping $640 each back in the 1980s.

This week's Golden Horseshoe is awarded to the Department of Education (DOE) for giving $2.9 million to 11 university-affiliated Middle East Studies Centers (MESCs) that are promoting left-wing causes and narratives, according to OpenTheBooks.com's report on a recent investigation.

The public spending watchdog group reported on an investigation by the National Association of Scholars (NAS) concluding that the 11 Middle East Studies Centers, which receive federal funds, have "veered from their purpose, now pushing overtly anti-West ideologies focusing on social issues such as Islamophobia and immigration at the university level, and even pushing critical race theory to K–12 educators." 

The 11 hosting universities identified by NAS are: Columbia University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Indiana University, New York University, University of Arizona, UCLA, University of Chicago, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, and a UNC/Duke University partnership.

While there are 50 MESCs in universities nationwide, the 11 targeted for scrutiny by NAS are designated as National Resource Centers, which receive federal funds. The 11 centers each receive $260,000 in Title VI funding annually from the DOE, amounting to $2.9 million.

The MESCs were originally founded to study Middle Eastern politics, culture, and language, NAS recounted in a press release. "But our analyses and case studies demonstrate that Middle East centers have since shifted their focus to promoting left-wing ideologies," asserts the conservative nonprofit.

The NAS report, "Hijacked: The Capture of America's Middle East Studies Centers," provides case studies in how the centers have shifted focus to become hotbeds of anti-Western activism. 

"Middle East Studies Centers today play fast and loose with objective truth," said Neetu Arnold, NAS senior research associate, in prepared remarks. "They instead focus on activism promoting anti-Western narratives and even push critical theory to K–12 educators." 

"The bias of these centers has been documented for years," Neetu said. "It's time for taxpayers to be taken off the hook for these activist centers."

In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal Neetu wrote, "My research found that National Resource Centers in the Middle East often back efforts that promote sympathy for illegal immigration and portray borders as inherently immoral."

The Department of Education did not respond to a request for comment on why millions in taxpayer dollars yearly are going to these centers.

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