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The top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee is going on what many are calling a witch hunt against scholars who do not toe the line on climate change.

“Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, sparked the … dispute by asking universities to turn over documents about grants, congressional testimony and other activities involving seven scientists who have testified at congressional climate hearings,” Politico reports.

Among those targeted is Pepperdine University Professor Steven Hayward, who wrote about receiving the demand letter from Grijalva on Power Line under the headline: “Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been a Climate Skeptic?”

Let’s start by axing a simple question: If I say “two plus two equals four,” does the truth of that proposition depend on whether I’ve received a grant from the Charles G. Koch Foundation? Apparently it does for Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) …

I’ve received—and am receiving—no grants, honoraria, consulting fees, good karma baubles, or even Christmas cards from any fossil fuel interest, though I’d be proud and open about it if I did. And I didn’t consult anyone for the content of my congressional testimony over the years, though so what if I had? Is the good congressman really telling us that he is incapable of assessing factual claims and judgments about the wisdom of policy on the merits alone? That doesn’t speak well of his probity.

Colorado-based KUSA-NBC news reports that the Democrat has also targeted CU Boulder Professor Roger Pielke, Jr. because he dared challenge an Obama administration belief on climate change. NBC reports:

Roger Pielke, Jr could hardly be described as a climate change denier. Pielke has called for a carbon tax to fund technological innovation and supported increased pollution regulations to push energy producers to develop cleaner fuels.

But Pielke disagrees with the Obama administration’s view that the increasing costs of disasters can be linked to greenhouse gas emissions.

Pielke’s July 2013 testimony to Congress drew the ire of Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.). … “My colleagues and I cannot perform our duties if research or testimony provided to us is influenced by undisclosed financial relationships,” Grijalva wrote.

CU-Boulder Provost Russell Moore told 9NEWS that Pielke hasn’t received a dime of oil company money.

Writing on his personal website, Pielke notes: “When ‘witch hunts’ are deemed legitimate in the context of popular causes, we will have fully turned science into just another arena for the exercise of power politics. The result is a big loss for both science and politics.”

The University of Delaware’s David Legates, a geography professor and former (Delaware) state climatologist, also has a bullseye on his back.

In 2007, Legates was chastised by former Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner and told “to stop using his state climatologist title in statements challenging climate change science.”

“Your views, as I understand them, are not aligned with those of my administration,” Minner had told Legates. Now he’s one of the professors targeted by Grijalva as well.

The lawmaker wants to know all about professors’ “external funding,” and any and all communications regarding such monies as well. He is particular concerned about any Koch Foundation support, his letter states.

Other researchers Grijalva is targeting include John Christy of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Judith Curry of Georgia Tech and Richard Lindzen of MIT, Politico reports.

Jennifer Kabbany is editor of The College Fix. (@JenniferKabbany)

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A fraternity’s charter at Arizona State University has been suspended and an investigation has been launched after frat members hosted a party Sunday at which revelers “dressed black.”

Tau Kappa Epsilon at Arizona State held a “MLK Black Out” party the day before the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, prompting outrage and apologies.

“Some are saying the party was intentionally racially charged because all of the attendees were white, the dress code was basketball jerseys, they were flashing gang signs in pictures and drinking out of watermelon cups,” ASU student Dakota LaRavia told The College Fix.

More than anything, it “was a merely a day to get together with a bunch of frat buddies,” said LaRavia, who did not attend that party but knew other students that had.

“Overall, it’s a frat that decided to be stupid and in the end they’ve only hurt their reputation,” she said, adding she did not think the campus as a whole would be deemed racist as a result.

A large contributing factor to the controversy ensued as a result of partygoers posting pictures on the social media website Instagram depicting events of the evening. They quickly went viral. Most of the associated Instagram accounts have since been deleted, or are private.

This has not been the first time TKE has been in trouble with university officials. The chapter was taken off suspension in December, a punishment that was the result of a student injured during a hazing initiation.

In a statement emailed to The College Fix, ASU spokeswoman Julie Newberg condemned the party.

“The party TKE held last weekend was not held on campus and was not a sanctioned university event,” she said. “Because of the latest incident, ASU has suspended chapter operations, can and will take additional action against the individuals involved, and is meeting with the national TKE organization today to take further action against the chapter.”

“ASU has one of the most diverse student bodies of any major university in the country, and it is unfortunate that a few misguided individuals held an offensive party at a time when ASU, the state and the nation are celebrating Dr. King’s achievements and legacy,” she added.

A member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity professional staff is at Arizona State University to begin an investigation, and local black rights activists are collaborating with ASU to aid the university in developing its reaction.

“Senior Vice President for Educational Outreach and Student Services James Rund has already spoken to two community leaders, Rev. Oscar Tillman, and Rev. Jarrett Maupin, about the university’s response to this incident,” Newberg continued. “The university will not tolerate this kind of behavior.”

The national TKE organization has also spoken out, releasing a statement which disavowed any connection to the party in Arizona.

“Tau Kappa Epsilon does not condone or support any actions by its members that would be defined as racist, discriminatory, and/or offensive,” the statement read. “We apologize for any offensive actions that a few of our members might have participated in.”

“We can assure all other parties that these actions do not represent Tau Kappa Epsilon and the beliefs of love, charity, and esteem that we have stood by for 115 years.”

College Fix contributor Julianne Stanford is a student at the University of Arizona.

IMAGE: Instagram

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the long-time chairman of the African-American Studies department at Harvard University says he believes it’s time to rethink race-based Affirmative Action.

During an interview on MSNBC Gates suggested that we replace race-based affirmative action with class-based affirmative action, considering students’ income levels as a factor in college admissions, rather than their skin color.

The beauty of taking economic circumstances into consideration, rather than mere skin color, is that those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds (including members of ethnic minority groups) would continue to get extra consideration in the admissions process. That’s entirely fair, considering the fact that equally intelligent students from low income backgrounds often have fewer resources, lower quality schools, and fewer academic opportunities than wealthier counterparts.

You don’t have to resort to racial discrimination if you simply want to help the disadvantaged, regardless of color.

Gates was the professor who famously held the “Beer Summit” on the White House lawn with president Obama and a Boston-area police officer. He also has a long-running series on PBS, and several bestselling books. Gates is one of the most visible African Americans in the academic world, and he comes out of the mainstream liberal/Democratic fold. Therefore his comments are sure to provoke further debate on this issue, even among those who normally consider themselves proponents of racial quotas.

Furthermore, if attitudes of someone like Gates are changing, it gives one hope that perhaps a new era of colorblind college admissions is within reach.

As Justice Clarence Thomas has written, “Every time the government places citizens on racial registers and makes race relevant to the provision of burdens or benefits, it demeans us all.”

Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, called Gates’s remarks “encouraging” in a blog post at National Review Online.

Nathan Harden is editor of The College Fix and author of the book SEX & GOD AT YALE: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad.

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Was Martin Luther King, Jr a conservative? The answer, I think, yes and no. As the face of the 1960’s civil rights movement King argued to advance the causes of organized labor and advocated civil disobedience as a means of resisting racial injustice. Those aren’t things we typically associate with conservatives.

On the other hand, King had no interest in the identity politics that make up so much of the racial politics of liberals today. He argued, most powerfully, for people to be judged by “the content of their character,” not the color of their skin. This argument meshes well with the modern conservatives’ emphasis on individualism and personal responsibility.

At CNN.com, John Blake posts some thoughts on the issue:

As the nation celebrates King’s national holiday Monday, a new battle has erupted over his legacy. Some conservatives are saying it’s time for them to reclaim the legacy of King, whose message of self-help, patriotism and a colorblind America, they say, was “fundamentally conservative.”

But those who marched with King and studied his work say that notion is absurd. The political class that once opposed King, they argue, is now trying to distort his message.

King’s most famous words are the crux of the disagreement.

“He was against all policies based on race,” says Peter Schramm, a conservative historian. “The basis of his attack on segregation was ‘judge us by the content of our character, not by the color of our skin.’ That’s a profound moral argument.”

I think the answer lies partly in understanding that conservatism itself has changed since the 1960’s. The states-rights conservatism of that day has gone extinct in the mainstream Republican and Democratic parties, insofar as the abolishing of segregation via federal power is now universally celebrated. No major figure in either party today would argue to uphold segregation on the basis of state’s rights.

Yet the left has certainly abandoned King’s vision of a color-blind society, where all would be judged (and indeed all would judge themselves) on the basis of character rather than melanin. And it’s hard to imagine King endorsing the modern left-wing policy of perpetual racial quotas as permanent solution to inequality. And it’s impossible to imagine him doing the kind of blatant race-mongering and profiteering that passes for civil rights leadership among those several men who have sought to fill King’s place as the spiritual and political leader of black America. I don’t need to name names.

I don’t think King would fit perfectly today into either mainstream party when it comes to race issues. The fact is, mainstream liberals have moved away from King’s most enduring principle–that we should assess the individual without regard to skin color. Meanwhile, mainstream conservatives have moved toward him in several important areas–realizing once and for all that states’ rights are secondary to natural rights under the U.S. Constitution.

Was Martin Luther King a conservative?

Maybe that’s the wrong question.

A better one would be this: Are today’s conservatives more like King?

The answer is, yes.

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Image Source: U.S. Library of Congress