HUMAN EVENTS: Harvard has been destroyed by DEI


For most of American history, Harvard University has been a byword for educational excellence of a kind most could only imagine. In its vast history, Harvard has educated not only literal Kings, dozens of Nobel Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners, and four of the sitting justices on the US Supreme Court, but also some of the most consequential presidents in American history, beginning with Founding Father and second president John Adams, and continuing to include both Theodore and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and, eventually, George W. Bush (from its business school) and Barack Obama (from its law school). It is no surprise that a school with alumni so distinguished, ranked by the London Times as the second best university in the world (after the University of Oxford) would become, in some sense, synonymous with America in the minds of citizens. In short, Harvard is supposed to be the jewel that defines American higher education, and makes our nation the intellectual envy of the world.

What a difference a few months makes. Because now, in the aftermath of Harvard University president Claudine Gay’s disastrous performance before the House of Representatives, and the attendant scandals that have followed, Harvard is symbolic of America in a much less flattering way. That is, if any institution embodies President Trump’s famous words that “everything woke turns to sh*t,” then Harvard University is Exhibit A.

Let’s not mince words: not so long ago if you were to discover that a university president had plagiarized dozens of academic articles, and it not only had not been discovered, but the trustees had then refused to fire them once it was, your immediate suspicion would be that the university in question had to be some fifth-rate barista factory whose only tangible effect on the world was to produce armies of graduates who would never be able to buy a house or start a family because of predatory loans exchanged for worthless degrees. 

If you were to learn that the same university president was dragged before Congress and, when asked if speech calling for the genocide of Jews was against university policy, could only reply that it “depend[ed] on the context,” your immediate thought would be that they had to be president of a school that likely wasn’t even accredited, and might be under investigation for defrauding students. 

If you were told that this same school, supposed concerns for “context” notwithstanding, was ranked dead last in the country for its free speech protections, you might even think that it wasn’t even a school at all, but merely a money laundering operation for a terror cell. That the institution in question was Harvard would’ve been unthinkable. 

Harvard, lest we forget, expelled 27 students for plagiarism in 2022 alone. If students can be disciplined like this, then surely the president should be held to a higher standard.

Harvard also fired former United States Treasury Secretary Larry Summers from its presidency for the mere crime of suggesting that women and men had different academic interests. If that’s off-limits, then surely, antisemitic genocide apology is, as well.

Harvard Law School alumni and former Supreme Court justices such as Harry Blackmun and William Brennan (both arch-liberals, by the way) once sported some of the most aggressive defenses of free speech on the bench. Surely, Harvard would want to build on that proud legacy?

No, no, and no. Because, you see, there is one thing that is consistent between the Harvard of today and the Harvard of the past: both of them would just like the Jews to go away. Just over a century ago, in 1922, Harvard faculty posed the following questions regarding their entering admission class:

“Is there a problem? Is it a Jewish problem? Does the problem involve a principle?”

To all three questions, the faculty answered “yes.” Yes, there was a Jewish problem: specifically, the fact that Jewish kids from Eastern Europe who had attended public schools were outscoring the WASP sons and daughters of privilege who Harvard was accustomed to educating on its entrance exam, and thus, too many of them were being admitted. The result? Over the course of the 1920s, Harvard did away with its admissions exam and ushered in the modern day hyper-subjective admissions process. The reason for doing this was simple: they wanted to keep Jews out as much as possible. In fairness, this was also the time when Harvard employed literal Klansman Lothrop Stoddard as a professor of anthropology. Harvard students posed for a photo next to the statue of John Harvard while wearing Klan uniforms in 1924. One almost feels relieved that Jewish students didn’t enter the school en masse, with classmates and teachers like that.

However, unlike today, at least Lothrop Stoddard never became president of the university. At least the Harvard Klansmen didn’t seize control over the campus’ legacy institutions. The same cannot be said of their descendants, who may have traded in the Klan hoods for Kente cloth, and whose bigotry is masked with disingenuous sloganeering about “empathy,” but make no mistake, the hatred and illiberalism of today’s DEI crusaders is cut from the same cloth – if not the same color – as the Harvard KKK of the past. It’d be tempting to call Claudine Gay their Lothrop Stoddard, except that’s actually unfair to Stoddard: he, at least, wrote his own work.

It is now that we must state the obvious: Claudine Gay, who only ascended to the presidency of Harvard in July of this year, has no business holding her job. She had no business being Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, a post she assumed in 2018, either. Her publication record, even if it were not marred by plagiarism, is a pale shadow of the accomplishments of her predecessors in both positions, an august group which includes entrepreneurs, decorated chemists, the aforementioned Secretary of the Treasury, and a founding dean of Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study. Gay, by contrast, is at best a middle-of-the-road political science professor known primarily for her lack of collegiality, in that she has never found a controversy where she doesn’t side against her fellow faculty members on woke grounds, including even pioneering fellow black professors like Ronald Sullivan and Roland Fryer.

So why is she president? Simple: because Harvard needs a “first black president,” and on top of that, she’s not only black, but a black woman! There is no better example of DEI’s total disregard for qualifications than Claudine Gay, and simultaneously no better example of how that disregard for qualifications leads to situations where the same unqualified people immediately end up not grateful for the opportunity, but embittered when they discover they’re in over their heads. Ironically, this was precisely the experience that led to Harvard’s central role in the creation of Critical Race Theory, itself, an idea which is the brainchild of former Harvard Professor Derrick Bell. According to Christopher Rufo’s latest book, Bell, who was hired at Harvard entirely on diversity grounds, quickly discovered that he was in no sense the academic equal of his fellow faculty members and, rather than push himself to grow, grew embittered from the experience. Eventually, his inferiority complex from this experience mutated into the intellectual groundwork for Critical Race Theory, an idea which was initially rejected by fellow black faculty like Henry Louis Gates, mostly because those people were actual scholars with extraordinary academic records who saw themselves following in the footsteps of arguably the greatest black alumnus of Harvard, Frederick Douglass. Bell, for his part, was incensed that Gates was willing to criticize his fellow blacks at all, including for…what a surprise…antisemitism. From a 1992 profile of Bell:

“He [Bell] is angry at Henry Louis Gates Jr., a Harvard professor who wrote a long article in the New York Times this year about the danger of black anti-Semitism. Blacks, Mr. Bell says, should be very careful about criticizing each other, because whites love it so much when they do.”

Which brings us to why Claudine Gay still has her job at all: because one of Derrick Bell’s former students, one who “revered” him according to Politico, is lobbying on her behalf. We are talking, of course, about former president Barack Obama. Which, frankly, is just proof that while Obama has made a good show of countersignaling the woke Left’s rhetorical excesses, his criticisms have always been the equivalent of press releases from virus labs in Wuhan bemoaning COVID’s death toll: a way to distance himself from the virus of which he is one of the prime architects. That virus is already affecting not merely Jewish students at Harvard, but Jewish scholars as well: Alan Dershowitz himself had a letter to the Harvard Crimson rejected because it criticized Claudine Gay. If black scholars can’t criticize other blacks for antisemitism, it seems the rest of us must shut up, altogether.   

And frankly, how much more apropos can things get, when a US president who got a Nobel Prize for nothing other than being the first black president, and whose illiberal and paranoid administration swiftly proved that affirmative action doesn’t belong in the Oval Office, is now defending a Harvard president who is only there for her race and gender against the charge of antisemitism and academic unfitness, presumably in the same terms that his diversity hire mentor taught him to think in. The same sense of victimization and resentment that led Southerners to form the Klan and lash out at Jews has come full circle and led black elites to form DEI. Though to be clear, this does not apply to all black elites anymore than all Southerners were Klansmen: John McWhorter of Columbia, a black scholar and noted linguist, wrote possibly one of the most damning articles on l’affaire Gay, in which he asks the following armor-piercing question: “Are to let pass a tacit idea that for Black scholars and administrators, the symbolism of our Blackness, our ‘diverseness,’ is what matters most about us? I am unclear where the Black pride (or antiracism) is in this.”

The answer is obvious: there is no black pride or antiracism here. There is only resentment and racism, all the way down. Like Bell and Obama before her, Claudine Gay exemplifies the tragic consequences of DEI: once you relax qualifications for one race, you do not fight racism; rather, you usually end up giving power and privilege to the very sorts of people who make racism look true and justified. The soft bigotry of low expectations feeds the hard bigotry of low opinions. And when you let barbarians through the schoolhouse gates, they do not hit the books. They burn them. Eventually, they burn down the school itself, which is what has happened symbolically to Harvard. Its buildings may still stand, but its reputation has been razed.

Las Vegas News Magazine

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