February 22, 2006


Coup against Summers a dubious victory for the politically correct (Alan M. Dershowitz, February 22, 2006, Boston Globe)

[L]et there be no mistake about the origin of Summers's problem with that particular faculty: It started as a hard left-center conflict. Summers committed the cardinal sin against the academic hard left: He expressed politically incorrect views regarding gender, race, religion, sexual preference, and the military.

The original no-confidence motion contained an explanatory note that explicitly referenced ''Mr. Summers' apparently ongoing convictions about the capacities and rights not only of women but also of African-Americans, third-world nations, gay people, and colonized peoples." The note also condemned Summers for his 2002 speech in which he said calls from professors and students for divestment from Israel were ''anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent."

Although the explanatory note was eventually removed from the motion, it was the 400-pound gorilla in the room. Summers was being condemned for expressing views deemed offensive by some of the faculty. I personally disagreed with some of Summers's statements, but that is beside the point in an institution committed to academic freedom and diversity of viewpoints.

You pretty much have to be a Harvard prof to even pretend the faculty cares about academic freedom.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 22, 2006 12:35 PM

Excuse my ignorance, but what's this "trackbacks" thing next to "comments"?

Posted by: obc at February 22, 2006 12:48 PM

"diversity of viewpoints"

In other words, 5,000 leftwing professors, and Harvey Mansfield.

Posted by: Ed Driscoll at February 22, 2006 12:50 PM

Trackbacks are a way of showing what other blogs are linking to particular posts. We had them off for a long time due to trackback spam, but I thought I'd try them again for a while. If they prove uninteresting or annoying, we'll disable them again.

Posted by: The Other Brother at February 22, 2006 12:59 PM

Did Dershowitz and other so-called Sumner's supporters say anything to support him after the first no confidence vote? Dershowitz's rant is too little, too late.

Posted by: ic at February 22, 2006 1:12 PM

Sumner was toast after his run in with Cornel West -- it just took 4 years for the faculty to finally revolt.

Posted by: jd watson [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 22, 2006 1:31 PM

Does it count if I'm uninterested?

Posted by: oj at February 22, 2006 1:34 PM

Summers made a few comments that any American not locked up inside the Harvard chuckle house would consider commonsensical, if not self-evident. His mild pronouncement that sexual differences might be one contributing factor explaining the paucity of female science professors at Harvard got him wildly condemned and caused Nancy Hopkins to stomp out the room (because wildly emotional displays are apparently an excellent way to refute the stereotype that women are wildly emotional).

In short: His manifestly fair, reasonable comments got him branded a sexist, racist homophobe and caused a faculty revolt.

But, when Summers insisted on calling out his faculty over their disinclination to condemn any foreign nation except Israel, all we hear is: How dare you accuse us of anti-Semitism!?!?!?

Posted by: Matt Murphy at February 22, 2006 3:01 PM

Ed Driscoll:

Also Martin Feldstein and Robert Barro.

Any others?

Posted by: Matt Murphy at February 22, 2006 3:03 PM