U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley’s concern about the Confucius Institute could be more effectively focused elsewhere. University administrators are well educated, intelligent people with the experience needed to evaluate educational programs; in this case, a program that teaches Mandarin and Chinese culture to American students. It is also a program that we are assured is under the watchful eye of the FBI should its activities stray into less wholesome areas. It is however a good thing to teach the language and culture of our largest trading partner to a number of our college students.
There are however a number of issues that Hawley could focus on that do need immediate attention. The greatest of these is the fact that Russia is currently engaged in an encore performance of election meddling that may impact the outcome of the 2020 elections, and the Republican Senate under Mitch McConnel’s leadership is refusing to vote on the Securing America’s Federal Elections (SAFE) Act which would ensure that all voting machines leave a paper trail. Hawley must surely be concerned about the integrity of our elections. Perhaps he could speak out in favor of the SAFE Act.
President Donald Trump’s trade war with China and the Chinese tariffs, which have decimated the United States’ largest market for soybeans and increased the price of everything imported from China, is also of concern. I’m sure Missouri’s farmers and Walmart shoppers everywhere would appreciate Hawley speaking out against Trump’s senseless trade policies.
And then there is the mess on our southern border that would benefit from comprehensive immigration reform. Perhaps Hawley could encourage his Republican colleagues to work with the Democrats in crafting a meaningful immigration bill so children will no longer be separated from their parents and incarcerated in vacant shopping malls at a cost of $750 a day for each child. This could be done by simply passing a bill that once again makes illegally crossing the border a civil rather than a criminal offense.
There are a lot of useful things Hawley could do. Worrying about the Confucius Institute isn’t one of them.