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Why Pete Hegseth Should Not Have Sent His Harvard Diploma Back

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Pete Hegseth has become one of the most articulate and genuine conservative commentators and personalities in recent years and arguably the leader in a newer generation of veterans engaging the news media bringing a reasonable but firm approach to covering the relentless assaults on traditional American values. But in a recent interview on Varney & Co. on Fox Business, Hegseth again championed his move to return his Harvard diploma.


As a graduate of that prestigious institution that has produced presidents, CEOs, and entrepreneurs that have changed humanity, Hegseth is not wrong to be angry about what Harvard has become, which is essentially an assembly line of wokeness pumping out liberal stormtroopers. 

According to a Fox News article last year, Hegseth said, “People will say ‘this is just a stunt, you still have a degree’ and that's fine. I went, I got the degree, I walked to the classes and all that, but I hope this is a statement that as conservatives and patriots, if we love this country, we can't keep sending our kids and elevating them to universities that are poisoning their minds. And I may have survived it, and thank goodness, but a lot of kids go there and buy into ‘critical theory university,' and that's how we get future leaders, Supreme Court Justices, Senators, others, who see America as an evil place. And Harvard is a factory for that kind of thinking."

Hegseth has always seemed to welcome free thought, open debate, and the art of political persuasion - may the facts reign supreme and the best argument win. It’s probably safe to surmise that during his time at Harvard, that kind of intellectual environment existed to a degree which at least allowed the expression of conservative thought. 

In keeping with the consideration of alternative ways of thinking, why couldn’t Hegseth be the one who breaks down the walls of our elite educational institutions? Why couldn’t an exemplary, humble, and happy warrior like him choose to engage Harvard with a different form of persuasion?


Maybe Harvard is beyond “saving”? And maybe all is really lost in our higher education system. But how can we know for sure unless leaders like Hegseth and others take on the challenge of trying to reverse the damage?

As conservatives, there are three things we can do. We can identify and engage with the leaders of these institutions who are not ideological but feel extreme pressure from the woke left. Give them options, resources, and guidance. We can continue to shed light on the true demagogues and extremists who hold positions of authority. And we can bring voice to the so-called “closet conservatives” at these institutions who are being silenced or live in fear of repercussion if they speak out.

But it’s not just those groups who need constant engagement from conservative leaders, it’s the moderates and disengaged people who need to hear our ideas and approach to governance. There are countless people who are either disenfranchised and hopeless about our current system or they are thoughtful enough to see both sides of hot-button topics but unsure of how they should decide or act on those issues. Conservatives need to be there too.

Let’s be clear, nothing Hegseth said about the lunacy at Harvard and other institutions is wrong, but there’s also a different way of counteracting this before it is truly too late. Like Jeremy’s Razors answer to the wokeness of Harry’s Razors, conservatives can continue to hone on the fight to provide educational alternatives that challenge perceived prestige and expand the footprint of physical institutions committed to fostering young people into freethinking and well-rounded citizens rooted in the values that still make America great.


That’s the external approach and it has its drawbacks. It’s well known the country continues to widen a political divide that’s evident in everything from where we live to what we watch and what beer we drink. Leave it to greater thinkers about what a continued political bifurcation would mean for our future, but if we cannot take them on from the outside, the only alternative is to change them from the inside. That is of course a far greater feat and one that could not be accomplished lest it's quietly and behind closed doors.

Hegseth teaches us that standing up for what you believe in and allowing the expression of ideas, no matter how far from our own, is a central component of a free society. In this instance, I disagree with the approach. But he got us thinking. Mission accomplished? You decide.


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