Mike Gonzalez of the Heritage Foundation explains in a Daily Signal column why it might make sense to target a particular piece of the federal Higher Education Act for defunding.

Obama, alas, is not alone in spurning American influence and power, or traditional support for world actors like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who identify with American values. Standing behind him is an entire philosophical and theoretical framework, born in academia,that guides his actions. …

… Given that the academic problem is pervasive and that … the culture will not end in 2017, we must look for systematic solutions. One modest but easy step is to cut off funding for Title VI of the Higher Education Act, which subsidizes area studies centers at universities throughout the country. …

… Title VI is but one way that the tax payer subsidizes academic nuttiness. A much greater source for funding and support comes through the government-guaranteed loan program and through the accreditation system.

The area studies centers themselves are just one part of the problems at the academy, of course. The study of international affairs in general is steeped in an antipathy to American power that has become uber-influential with Obama, the president most beholden to the ideologies of the faculty lounge since Woodrow Wilson. …

… Cutting off funding to the 125 or so area studies at universities across the country won’t solve all this, to be sure, but the centers are themselves particularly egregious. For starters, they were set up in the 1950s and continue to be funded explicitly to meet “national needs.” For a while that worked, but consensus on what constituted national interest broke down in the 1960s.

Since then, the centers have progressively been taken over by what is known as “the left-over left.” The worst offenders have been the Middle East Centers, which in the 1970s came under the baleful influence of Columbia University professor Edward Said. As Martin Kramer wrote in Ivory Towers in 2002, Said “has crippled Middle Eastern studies to this day.”

Dissent from the reigning ideology was systematically stamped out. The discipline became systematically anti-Israel and so embarrassed about asking the right questions as to become blind to the threats we face as a society.

Together with Latin American centers and those from other areas, the centers became the entry points for ideologies inimical to our national interest, while failing to carry out the main task of academic work: truth discovery.

Defunding these centers would fit with the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy’s recommendations for freeing up some funds within the University of North Carolina.