Interesting. I work (proudly) with a State agency, but since we provide a specific professional service this culture of fear hasn’t hit us yet. However, your essay highlights the fragility - one bad administrator and it could all go awry....but crossing my fingers so far.
This, sadly, is now the state of higher ed. To speak this truth, usually, you must leave the profession: "The refusal of the adults in the room to speak the truth, their refusal to say no to efforts to undermine the mission of their institutions, their fear of being called a bad name and that fear trumping their responsibility — that is how we got here."
When I was in a quite different profession in corporate America, my idealism and my ethics were consistently threatened to the point that I stood up against the lies and said privately this: "Life without dignity is not worth living" -- It's a story, but, know this: I got out with my heart and spirit in tact.