Sherry Sylvester

9th Street And Congress Podcast

The Woke/Hamas Alliance: The Dangerous Partnership

As Israel fights to destroy Hamas and violence in the Middle East threatens to escalate, the collaboration between radical progressive “woke” groups in America and radical Islamists is becoming glaringly visible with a resultant surge in anti-Semitism. The present unrest in America has its roots in identity politics and its ongoing war against Western ideas and moral order.

TPPF hosted a livestream discussion of this dangerous partnership and the vulnerability the radical progressive groups are exposing America to at every level. TPPF’s Sherry Sylvester, Chuck DeVore, and Erin Valdez, along with Rabbi Dan Ain, have everything you need to know about the rise of anti-Semitism in the United States.


  • Sherry Sylvester (Moderator) – Distinguished Senior Fellow, Texas Public Policy Foundation
  • Rabbi Dan Ain – Rabbi and Founder, Moontower Minyan
  • Hon. Chuck DeVore – Chief National Initiatives Officer, Texas Public Policy Foundation
  • Erin Valdez – Policy Director, Next Generation Texas, Texas Public Policy Foundation
9th Street And Congress Podcast

9th & Congress | Episode 10: How Texas Got It Right, Part 2 with David Weeks

TPPF’s Sherry Sylvester sits down with renowned political and public affairs consultant David Weeks to discuss his experience on the Texas Quarter Dollar Coin Advisory Committee, where he contributed to the design and creation of the Texas state quarter that is in circulation today, the current state of Texas’ political climate, and all things in between.

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9th Street And Congress Podcast

9th & Congress | Episode 11: How Texas Got It Right, Part 3 with Mike Baselice

TPPF’s Sherry Sylvester sits down with nationally and internationally preeminent pollster Mike Baselice to discuss the electoral trends that turned Texas red and what he predicts for the future.

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9th Street And Congress Podcast

9th & Congress | Episode 12: Coping with Societal and Literal War with Rabbi Dan Ain

TPPF’s Sherry Sylvester sits down with Rabbi Dan Ain, Founder of “Because Jewish,” to discuss how Texas’ Jewish community is coping with the continued strife in Israel.

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Hope for San Francisco – and Austin?

New York City hauled the 884-pound statue of Thomas Jefferson out of City Hall recently because city leaders said the statue “shouldn’t exist” and that Jefferson should be forgotten. I can understand New York progressives forgetting that Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence but it is surprising that they don’t remember that this Founding Father also brokered the deal that made New York City the financial capital of the nation. Didn’t they see Hamilton?

New York City does dumb things like this routinely and I bet most New Yorkers have just about had enough of it. I lived in New York City in another lifetime and I have seen this movie before. Even the names of some of the characters are the same.

In the 1980’s New York City was overrun with crime—murder, robbery, and drugs. The filthy streets stank, the city was broke—taxes were high and services were non-existent.

I came to New York City as a left-wing liberal, what we would call a progressive today, and the people running the city were people I knew and agreed with.

Mario Cuomo, father to former Gov. Andrew and infamous former CNN Host Chris, was governor. The Democratic majority of voters who elected him were very upset about all the crime. To demonstrate that he wasn’t a bleeding heart, Cuomo imposed mandatory sentences for drug users. His move didn’t solve the drug problem, but it did fill up the prisons, so he built a lot of new prisons all over the state. Most of them were many hours from New York City, making it virtually impossible for families to visit incarcerated family members. Cutting off family connections made rehabilitation almost impossible.

I started working for a liberal prison reform group shortly after I arrived in New York City and I soon got a call from the New York Times asking for a comment on Cuomo’s criminal justice policies. I told the newspaper Cuomo’s mandatory sentencing and prison policies were costing the state and the city millions and not making a dent in the crime problem.

By the time I got back to my office, it was reported to me that then-Gov. Cuomo had called the chairman of the board of the group I worked for and asked him “who the f***” I thought I was.”

My colleagues just shrugged and apologized—to the governor, not to me. I was pulled aside and told bluntly that Gov. Cuomo was a bully and it was not wise to cross him.

Sound familiar?

Long-time New York City Mayor Ed Koch, was popular but his tirades and narcissism—including his on-going tabloid war with Donald Trump—had gotten old for most New Yorkers. The City’s problems—the crime, the taxes, the waste and the mismanagement—had become chronic. People were exhausted by it.

David Dinkins was a low-energy politician and there was no evidence that he had a plan to change things, but he was somebody new and that was enough to convince people he represented change. At a minimum, he was calm and soft-spoken and I knew he would lower the noise level in City Hall, so I went to work on his campaign. After Dinkins beat Koch, I took a job in his administration.

But a change in tone wasn’t enough. New York City only got worse. In addition to bankruptcy, the City was experiencing four simultaneous epidemics—AIDS, low-birthweight babies, asthma and tuberculosis. Crime and homelessness skyrocketed, hospitals and public schools were both failing, the city bureaucracy was riddled with corruption and New Yorkers were walking the streets every day barraged by homeless people who were living on streets littered with garbage bags.

Finally, it got so bad that the unthinkable happened—New York City elected a Republican mayor. Then as now, there were barely enough registered Republicans in New York City to make a blip on a chart, but Rudy Giuliani, the GOP U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, defeated Dinkins’ re-election bid.

New Yorkers had finally had enough and they were tired of hearing Dinkins and Cuomo say that they only way things could get better would be higher taxes and a massive federal bailout.

Like every New Yorker, I noticed a difference almost immediately after Giuliani took office. The garbage was picked up and street crime dramatically declined. He privatized the hospitals (which had been city owned) and they got the epidemics under control. You could walk down the street without being accosted by panhandlers. Police reforms finally began without creating a union war. Zero-tolerance policies were controversial, but they worked.

Giuliani’s transformation of the city changed a generation of New Yorkers. They were still Democrats but they didn’t elect another Democrat to lead the city until the current mayor, Bill de Blasio, took office.

I am sure it is not lost on older New Yorkers that the same problems they had with Koch and Dinkins returned with de Blasio. That’s undoubtedly why they rejected progressive mayoral candidates this fall and instead elected a retired police officer, Eric Adams.

It wasn’t lost on me either. People often ask me how I became a movement conservative after years working as a progressive Democrat. While there was never a “road to Damascus” moment, seeing the turnaround that occurred in New York City under conservative leadership created some huge cracks in my liberal ideology.

When I see so many great American cities today, like San Francisco and Austin, that are being ruined by liberal policies, I recall what happened in New York and it gives me hope.

When the failure of left-wing progressive policies are in your face everyday—when they’ve wasted your tax dollars, ruined your downtown, mismanaged services, and told you to do stupid things like forget Thomas Jefferson, ultimately voters who will finally say “enough!” We’re beginning to see some changes across the country and I am betting we are going to see more.

9th Street And Congress Podcast

9th & Congress, Episode 2 | Affirmative Action with Dr. Richard Johnson

Sherry Sylvester discusses the Supreme Court’s ruling that America’s colleges and universities could no longer use race as a factor in determining who could be admitted with Dr. Richard Johnson, Director of the Booker T. Washington Institute at Texas Public Policy Foundation.

9th Street And Congress

Senate Bill 17 and the Campus Thought Police

Testifying in support of Senate Bill 17, University of Texas at Austin professor Daniel Bonevac told members of the Texas House Higher Ed Committee that Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs function as “campus thought police…indoctrinating students and training activists.”

Dr. Bonevac is in a position to know. He’s a tenured professor who has been teaching at UT for more than 40 years. He has seen what DEI has wrought—up close.

He reports that dissent from the DEI orthodoxy is not tolerated on campus and by dissent he means “laughing at the wrong joke, liking the wrong social media post, asking the wrong question in class” — all of which can lead to serious, career-ending consequences.

We have seen these dramas play out across the country. But throughout the debate on Senate Bill 17, the anti-DEI bill by Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe and Rep. John Kuempel, R-Seguin, Texas colleges and universities continued to insist, despite piles of evidence to the contrary, that it wasn’t happening at their institutions.

Texas academic leaders routinely testified that DEI was nothing other than a support program for minority students, veterans and students who are the first in the families to go to college. They ignored video evidence of statements like that of former UT Dean of DEI, Skyller Walkes, screaming at a group of students that “an educator in a system of oppression is either a revolutionary or an oppressor. Which one will you identify as?”

Walkes left UT to an even higher ranking job at Columbia. After this report came out, her name was removed from UT’s website.

Texas Tech University officials were incredulous when confronted with evidence showing that a biology professor was disqualified from a job there for stating that he treats all his students equally. The head of DEI at Texas Tech announced last week that she is leaving Texas to take a similar job at the Northern Illinois University.

Last month University of Texas Psychology Professor Kirsten Bradbury asked the following question on a test:

Which sociodemographic group is most likely to repeatedly violate the rights of others, in a pattern of behavior that includes violence, deceit, irresponsibility and lack of remorse?

The correct test answer was “wealthy white men.”

Bradbury issued a non-apology. There’s no indication she has suffered any repercussions from the university.

Christopher Rufo found curriculum materials at University of Texas’ College of Communication promoting the idea that “objectivity,” “individualism,” and “worship of the written word” were all “characteristics of white supremacy culture.”

Rufo also found that a professor of educational psychology and African Diaspora Studies teaches that “white supremacy is so pernicious . . . it is responsible for virtually every ill that we see within our communities.”

These and a host of other egregious examples of DEI in action on Texas campuses were all treated by academic leaders as one-offs perpetrated by some rogue professor or administrator. Once evidence to the contrary surfaced, it was usually quickly removed from university websites.

When the Vice President for Diversity and Community and Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin testified on the bill to end DEI in Texas, she was not asked about the DEI doctrine of white supremacy and gender theory. She said DEI programs at UT were focused “on the success of students.” When legislators questioned her about anti-discrimination programs, she didn’t let them know that civil rights, Title VI and Title IX compliance are separate programs and not part of most DEI offices.

When Gov. Greg Abbott demanded that universities stop using diversity statements which require adherence to DEI principles when hiring faculty, Texas A&M quickly renamed their faculty hiring guidelines from Strategies and Tactics to Improve Diversity and Excellence (STRIDE) to simply the Faculty Hiring Handbook. However, the so-called “Berkeley Rubric” from the University of California, which require candidates to be scored based on their diversity statement, was not removed. This means candidates would still be downgraded for using words like merit, color-blind or best-qualified.

At the House Higher Education hearing on DEI, Texas A&M’s Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs acknowledged that DEI had been “discovered in some pockets of the university,” but he insisted that the administration was unaware of it.

But A&M’s State of Diversity Report released in 2020 details a vast network of DEI programs throughout the A&M system.

The A&M report parrots the credo of DEI, insisting that, “…racism, hate speech, safety, and belonging issues are evidence of systemic, cultural problems and are enduring trends at Texas A&M.” The report concludes that “dismantle[ing] systemic racism” is essential to advancing Texas A&M’s land-grant mission.

It is unlikely that most Texas academic leaders are committed to the basic premise of DEI—that all American institutions (including all colleges and universities) are predominantly racist, whether consciously or not. Instead, it appears that many college administrators have been captured by DEI hucksters and are in too deep to back out now.

To see how these hucksters work, take a look at the website for the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Ed (NADOHE). Their mission has nothing to do with student success. Instead, their goal is to create more jobs for diversity officers to do. They see racism everywhere, whether there’s any evidence or not.

Some believe that NADOHE actually foments unrest on campuses so academic administrators will reach out to them for help. You can see how that could happen. As the National Association of Scholars’ John Sailer has documented, the explosion of DEI programs at the University of Texas began after students protested and made demands.

Ironically, NADOHE’s website makes it clear that DEI is little more than a full-employment act for bureaucrats that creates division and resentment on campus and does nothing to help minority students succeed. It is not just the red states that have figured out the truth about DEI. Last month a debate was held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) entitled “Should DEI Be Abolished?” Even the side arguing in support of DEI agreed that it has “gone off the track.”

Texas’ passage of Senate Bill 17, the strongest anti-DEI bill in the nation, does not mean that Texans don’t believe racism and sexism still exist and must be challenged. But it does mean an end to the massive and complex network of DEI programs built on the premise that white supremacy and racism are the primary driving force of our academic institutions and American life.

The goal of SB 17 is to end the powerful incentives and career-threatening penalties that are mandated by DEI, and to return Texas campuses to places where free speech, academic freedom and intellectual inquiry are the values that drive the institution.

When Gov. Abbott signs SB 17 into law, we can hope it is the end of the campus thought police.

Sherry Sylvester is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and the former Senior Advisor to Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.

9th Street And Congress Podcast

TPPF Applauds the Passage of Senate 17 – the Strongest anti-DEI Bill in the Nation

Today, the Texas Public Policy Foundation applauded the passage of Senate Bill 17, ending taxpayer support for diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. TPPF Distinguished Senior Fellow Sherry Sylvester released the following statement:

“Senate Bill 17, authored by Senator Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe and Rep. John Kuempel, R-Seguin, is the strongest anti-DEI Bill in the nation.  SB 17 will end Texas taxpayer support of DEI, a political ideology rooted in the premise that white supremacy is the primary force driving every aspect of university and American life.

“SB 17 will close down DEI offices at Texas colleges and universities, end mandatory DEI training and ensure that no job applicant at a state institution of higher education is required to sign a statement affirming their support of any political doctrine in order to be hired.  SB 17 will end the fissures of division that have been created on Texas college and university campuses and help return the principles of open inquiry and free speech to the state’s institutions of higher learning.”

9th Street And Congress

What is DEI, really?

The Texas Senate just passed Senate Bill 17, which will require Texas colleges and universities to close their offices dedicated to “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,” (DEI).

Senate Bill 17 will also prohibit universities from requiring applicants for teaching and administrative jobs to provide a so-called “diversity statement” that is free of any offensive words like, “merit” and “color-blind.” It also prohibits mandatory DEI training.

Senator Brandon Creighton’s, R-Conroe, leadership on this legislation – a priority for Lt. Governor Dan Patrick – was remarkable in many ways, not the least of which is that DEI offices at Texas colleges and universities, like DEI offices nationally, rarely provide any information on what they actually do.

The truth is buried deep in the website of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education. They describe their mission as “engaging in ongoing ways to incorporate alternative narratives in the curriculum and provide robust learning opportunities on the history of racism, colonization, and conquest on how higher education and other sectors of society have been complicit in maintaining systems of privilege.”

DEI officers are working to ensure that every administrator, every faculty member and every student believes these “alternative narratives” which include the notion that America was really founded in 1619 when the first African Americans arrived in Virginia, and that the American Revolution and the Texas Revolution were fought to maintain slavery. The Pilgrims didn’t colonize America for religious liberty, they came here to conquer the native tribes, just like Columbus did two hundred years before. There’s no end to these “alternative narratives,” some of which are linked to a part of our history and some of which are pure fabrications.

Underlying these “alternative narratives” is the bedrock belief of DEI that racism is not an individual act of evil, it is a structural system, geared toward preserving white supremacy.

Higher education is part of this systemic racism, according to DEI’s assessment. So is free-market capitalism, America’s legal system rooted in English common law, medicine, virtually everything American, including our values of achievement, hard-work, equality and independence.

According to DEI, the system is rigged and DEI officers say to “mitigate racism,” they must dismantle all those systems and overthrow those values.

That’s why an applicant for a biology professor job at Texas Tech was disqualified when he said he treated all his students equally. Equality is not a DEI value. Equality under the law, the principle that undergirds all our civil rights legislation, has been replaced in DEI by equity, which is about redistributing resources. That’s why many conservatives draw a direct line from DEI to Marxism.

The bottom line is that DEI advocates believe all white Americans are racist, whether they know it or not. Many non-white Americans can be unconsciously racist too, if they buy into “white values” like hard work, self-reliance and even being on time. Following a schedule, according to DEI advocates, is a white thing.

Viewing the world through that DEI prism creates a new standard of inequality. Students are either privileged perpetrators of white supremacy or victims of it. That’s what DEI teaches.

Texas has a dark history of racism – slavery, brutal reconstruction, the violence of the Jim Crow era and segregation. Every Texas public school student is taught that history so that we will never forget those awful times.

But Texas also has a history of breaking down barriers, especially when it comes to our public schools and universities. The Texas Public Policy Foundation conducted focus groups across the state last year and we found that African Americans and Hispanics do not think of themselves as victims; they think of themselves as Texans. They identify with Texas values of independence and freedom. Those who arrive at Texas universities are proud Texans – perhaps until they are hit with DEI ideology everywhere they turn, insisting that somehow the system is rigged and there’s no way they can win.

That’s why few were surprised by the Texas A&M survey that showed that in 2015, 82% of African Americans felt they belonged at the university. By 2019, after four years of DEI programs, only 55% felt they belonged.

A Baylor University study conducted in 2018 found that having a DEI program at a university had no impact on increasing minority faculty hiring. There’s no evidence that DEI helps increase successful college outcomes for minority and women students, either. And we have almost daily examples of how DEI stifles free speech, with a Stanford Law School dean’s shouting down of a federal judge being the most recent example.

Texas is not the only place where DEI is being scrutinized, and not just by conservatives. Earlier this month, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) at Cambridge held a debate entitled “Should DEI be Abolished?” Even those who were defending DEI said it had “gone off the rails.”

Texas college and university budgets and websites reveal that hundreds of DEI officers are employed at Texas institutions of higher learning and Texas taxpayers are spending millions to keep those offices open. The Texas Senate was absolutely right to vote to shut them down. The Texas House and other states should follow their lead.

Sherry Sylvester is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and the former Senior Advisor to Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.

9th Street And Congress

Drag Shows ARE Blackface

When Walter Wendler, president of West Texas A&M University, blocked a drag show performance on his campus, likening it to blackface,  he was excoriated by the organized LBGTQ+ community, which launched a petition calling it a “gross and abhorrent comparison of two completely different topics. It claimed Wendler was using an “incorrect definition of drag as a culture and form of performance art.”

But Wendler is right. Drag shows are essentially the same as blackface. It’s not even a close call. Here’s how the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture describes blackface:

“Minstrelsy, comedic performances of “blackness” by whites in exaggerated costumes and make-up, cannot be separated fully from the racial derision and stereotyping at its core. By distorting the features and culture of African Americans—including their looks, language, dance, deportment, and character—white Americans were able to codify whiteness across class and geopolitical lines as its antithesis.”

Change blackness to womanhood and you have a precise definition of drag—”comedic performances of women by men in exaggerated costumes and make-up…” The only difference is that most thinking people have long recognized that blackface is the essence of racism and hate. As the Smithsonian notes, it “cannot be separated from racial derision and stereotyping at its core.” Similarly, drag shows are all about misogyny and utter contempt for women.

It is inexplicable that there is so little outrage about the obvious and vicious sexism that emanates from drag queens and drag performances, but as the Dallas Morning News reports, drag shows have become part of the mainstream, popular culture.

Ignoring the hateful and belittling stereotypes of women presented by drag queens—catty, bitchy, dumb and obsessed with sex—Nancy Pelosi, the first woman ever to serve as Speaker of the U.S. House, appeared as a guest on “RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars” where she praised the men for the “joy and beauty you bring into the world.”

Both blackface and drag trace their roots to Shakespeare. Women were forbidden to act in Elizabethan times, but many believe Shakespeare’s hand-written stage directions, “DRAG,” indicated “dressed as a girl.” But nothing in Shakespeare’s works indicates a disdain for women. Juliet, Lady Macbeth, Beatrice, Viola and Cordelia weren’t stereotypes, even though they were played by men. And Shakespeare’s masterful Othello, played by white actors in blackface until modern times, reveals that he understood the evil and pain of racism.

Even using the standards of “presentism” that is so popular among the left, it is hard to see how Shakespeare’s endorsement would count much for blackface or drag. He lived in a time when slavery was not particularly controversial, and witches were still being burned.

Blackface migrated to America and took hold in the 1830s.  Jim Crow was a blackface character. According to the Smithsonian, minstrel shows including troupes of white actors performing as black people became popular after the Civil War and continued until relatively recently. They note that “The Black​ and White Minstrel Show” was a popular British television show until the late 1970s. It ended after the Civil Rights movement in the United States heightened awareness about racism.

If, as the students at WTAMU insist, banning drag shows is an offense to gay and lesbian people, perhaps there is a parallel in the fact that the so-called “King of Blackface,” Al Jolson, was lauded for his musical talent throughout his career. Knowing the racism and damage that was done, it is unimaginable today, but some African Americans believed Jolson brought black music to the theatre at a time when blacks were not allowed to appear on stage.

One of the ugliest things about blackface is that it perpetuated the most violent racism in America by pushing racial stereotypes that black men were stupid with enormous sexual appetites. Alleging rape was one of the most common motivations for lynching, and blackface played a huge role in pushing that myth.

Drag pushes similar sexual stereotypes about women including overdone facial makeup—massive brows, lips and lashes, exaggerated breasts and wildly gyrating sexual movements that suggest voracious sexual appetites.

That’s one reason Dr. Wendler is right when he says there’s no such thing as a harmless drag show and why Texas State Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Tyler, should be lauded for Senate Bill 12 and Senate Bill 1608, which restrict drag shows to adult audiences and keep them out of public libraries.

Hopefully the “RuPaul Drag Race All Stars” will go the way of the “Black and White Minstrel Show” as the public finally realizes drag shows have nothing to do with gay rights. They are all about hate—and a particularly vicious kind of sexism.