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What Went Wrong at Harvard … And Elsewhere?

by Maarten Boudry

“It depends on the context.” Those were the infamous words spoken by the former rector of Harvard University, Claudine Gay, during a hearing in the U.S. Congress last month. The question that was posed to her by Republican representative Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), as well as to her colleagues from MIT and the University of Pennsylvania: “Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate your university’s codes of conduct?”

Claudine Gay, inaugurated as the 30th President of Harvard University on September 29, 2023 [picture Wikipedia]

This might strike you as the easiest question in the world to answer in the affirmative. But, as it turns out, all three refused to answer it in the affirmative. Instead, with contemptuous smirks on their lips, they kept repeating the same evasive and lawyerly phrases that they had clearly rehearsed beforehand: Calling for the extermination of the Jews on our campus? Gee, it depends, I guess.
In defense of her answer, Harvard’s president averred that her university is “deeply committed to protecting free expression” in the spirit of the U.S. First Amendment. Such a statement displays a shocking level of hypocrisy. Harvard is the same university where students and staff risk disciplinary sanctions if they address someone with the wrong pronouns or make disparaging comments about their weight, both of which are treated as “violence” and “abuse.” When Harvard discovered that some of its students had shared some raucous jokes and memes in a closed Facebook group, they were immediately suspended. In fact, the “freedom of expression” allegedly cherished by Harvard is in such a dire state the university received the lowest score ever in the index of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, coming in dead last out of 203 elite schools surveyed. Forget about calling for the “genocide of Blacks”—if you were to so much as utter the N-word at Harvard or another Ivy League university, even in an educational context, you would be immediately fired or suspended.

To continue reading turn to Discourse Magazine website, January 31, 2024

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