The Phony Scholar
With Claudine Gay’s resignation, how will Harvard rebalance? Like many, the WSJ wonders, will the Harvard Corporation that chose Claudine Gay and presided over the University’s debacle rebalance by installing an educator who isn’t afraid to challenge the school’s dominant and censorious progressive factions?
In the months since Hamas brutally murdered Israeli civilians on Oct. 7, the atmosphere on Harvard’s campus has been hostile to Jewish students. During one rally, the Crimson newspaper reported, a student “led the crowd in a chant of ‘Long live Palestine; long live the intifada; intifada, intifada; globalize the intifada.”
Rot from the Body Up
A fish rots from the body up, not the head down, NRO reminds readers. The work of fixing the madness of campus culture will involve massive structural reforms. Fixing the campus rot will take much more than cosmetic leadership changes. Needed is massive structural reform, like tearing out DEI administrative culture from the university system, advises NRO:
It is a pathetic end for the first black and female president of such an august intellectual institution, but one that all involved — Gay, the university administration, its faculty, and the unruly student body alike — were wholly complicit in bringing about. Gay’s resignation is richly deserved, but it obviously isn’t going to solve the crisis America currently faces on its elite campuses.
Since 7 October, when Hamas brutally murdered/raped/tortured Israeli civilians, the atmosphere on Harvard’s campus has been hostile to Jewish students, details NRO:
During one rally, the Crimson newspaper reported, a student “led the crowd in a chant of ‘Long live Palestine; long live the intifada; intifada, intifada; globalize the intifada.”
Rabbi Hirschy Zarchi of Harvard Chabad said Dec. 13 that a menorah couldn’t be left outside on campus overnight, “because there’s fear that it’ll be vandalized.” Sen. Dan Sullivan described on these pages the intimidating scene inside the school’s Widener Library.
Francis Menton received the President’s news yesterday at 1:27 pm via email from Ms. Gay herself. Less than 20 minutes later, the Manhattan Contrarian received the official announcement from the Harvard Corporation.
Of course, Ms. Gay took the opportunity to blame her downfall on racism of unnamed adversaries. “[I]t has been . . . frightening to be subjected to personal attacks and threats fueled by racial animus.” What personal attacks and racial animus exactly, Ms. Gay? What I have seen (and contributed to) is plenty of fair criticism of the sort that everyone who operates at the level of President of Harvard must deal with every day.
Since when is it a “personal attack,” let alone “racial animus,” simply to document a record of enforcing woke orthodoxy on campus, or of allowing antisemitism to flourish, or of committing more than 40 instances of clear plagiarism in an already sparse record of academic publication?
With the ball back in the Harvard Corporation’s court, what’s next? Not any resignations, contends Mr. Menton:
All (12) of them (along with three others) were on the “Search Committee” in 2022 that came up with Ms. Gay as the next President. As of today, not one of them has stepped down.
Make no mistake, continues Mr. Menton, Harvard Corporation knew exactly what it was getting when it chose Ms. Gay.
(Ms. Gay) was not some lightly-vetted outsider. She had been at Harvard since 2006 — 17 years — and had made advancement of the woke/diversity/equity/inclusion agenda a clear priority during that time. She was initially recruited from Stanford to be a professor of government and African American Studies. Her best-known research, a 2001 piece in the American Political Science Review, purported to show change in voting behavior of whites when they find themselves in a majority-minority congressional district — that is, supposedly a showing of some kind of implicit racial bias on the part of at least some white voters, which would be obvious catnip for the DEI crowd.
(Note that this paper now turns out to contain several instances of alleged plagiarism, and moreover Ms. Gay has refused to release the underlying data for the study, making its results dubious.).
The Ultimate Obama Crony/Democratic Mega Donor
Penny Pritzker’s name may be familiar to you, explains Mr. Menton. Pritzker was the “Senior Fellow” of the Harvard Corporation (there is only one such), and the head of the search committee that selected Gay.
You may recognize the name of Ms. Pritzker as the billionaire heiress of the Hyatt Hotel fortune, the sister of Illinois Governor Jay Pritzker and former Commerce Secretary during Barack Obama’s second term. What you may not know is that Ms. Pritzker was the finance chair of Obama’s first campaign for President, and a co-chair of his second campaign. In other words, she is an ultimate Obama crony and Democratic Party mega-donor and insider.
There was no mere negligence in the process by which Claudine Gay became President of Harvard. The whole idea was to divert Harvard away from bona fide research and scholarship and make its new focus the woke orthodoxy and DEI agenda. Penny Pritzker led the effort, but every member of the Harvard Corporation was fully on board. With a black woman placed in the public-facing role, her race and sex could be used to deflect any potential criticism of the new direction.
So back to the question: what will Harvard do next? Highly unlikely: resignations from the Harvard Corporation (Mr. Menton bets strongly against that). “The exact same people will imminently get a second shot at accomplishing their exact same goal.”
The universe of Harvard faculty and administrators consists almost unanimously of Democrats, and a good half of them are radical leftists. Somewhere among them is someone who will be an equally unwavering force for the advancement of wokism as was Claudine Gay, with a record perhaps a bit less obviously vulnerable to having a spotlight shown on it. If you need a place to start your search, here is a Petition of Harvard faculty members, signed by more than 750 such, urging the retention of President Gay.