Carol Platt Liebau - Columnist
Platt Liebau is editorial director and a senior member of tOR and CRO editorial
boards. She is an attorney, political analyst and commentator
based in San Marino, CA, and has appeared on the Fox News
Channel, MSNBC, CNN, Orange County News Channel, Cox Cable
and a variety of radio programs throughout the United States.
A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School,
Carol Platt Liebau also served as the first female managing
editor of the Harvard Law Review. Her web log can be found
[go to Liebau index]
Should Be Sorry N.O.W.?
Lawrence Summers’ “Feminist” Critics
Owe Women an Apology...
Platt Liebau] 1/24/05
week was a long and ugly one for Harvard President Dr. Lawrence
Summers, who – as almost everyone now knows – made
the mistake of committing candor and hypothesizing that innate
differences between the sexes might explain the relative “underrepresentation” of
women in math and the sciences. After days of battering by feminists
in the press and the academy, sadly – but not surprisingly – Dr.
His regret was no doubt real, but the apology was unwarranted.
In fact, if apologies are to be made, they should come from his
feminist critics, whose behavior has given more credence to misogynist
stereotypes than anything Dr. Summers could possibly have said.
Take the reaction of MIT biologist and Harvard
alum Nancy Hopkins, an attendee at the off-the-record lunch
where Summers made his
remarks. “I felt I was going to be sick,” she said. “My
heart was pounding and my breath was shallow. I was extremely
upset.” Hopkins reportedly left the room as Dr. Summers’ spoke.
Why didn’t Hopkins simply reach for her
smelling salts and fall gracefully to her fainting couch? What
Generations of sensible women have worked to prove that we are
capable of engaging in intellectual debate without resorting
to hyper-emotionalism. Thanks to Professor Hopkins, that cause
has just been set back at bit.
In fact, any scientist worth her salt would have
challenged Dr. Summers with facts – and above all, respected
the spirit of scientific inquiry in which his remarks were
made. Not Hopkins,
who was both the chief complainer and chief investigator of alleged
gender bias at MIT. Some scientist. Apparently, she knows the
answers before the research is even conducted.
But Hopkins was not the only critic. A Harvard
faculty committee complained that Summers’ comments would “impede our
current efforts to recruit top women scholars.” Really?
Are they suggesting that female scholars are either intimidated
by or hostile to original thought in academic discourse? How
insulting. And even if some women would disagree with Summers,
why on earth would Harvard be interested in pursuing academics – male
or female – who can’t tolerate opinions that differ
from their own?
Adding to the chorus of outrage came, predictably,
the shrill denunciations of the National Organization of Women,
desperately for relevance. N.O.W. issued a press release calling
for Summers’ resignation last Thursday (but in a maneuver
bespeaking more cowardice than “empowerment,” no
N.O.W. representative was “available” to debate the
issue on KABC radio with me last Friday). In the release, N.O.W.
President Kim Gandy was quoted: “The notion that women
are innately inferior to men is simply archaic.”
And there we have it. Judging from the N.O.W.
press release – which
claims to stand in solidarity with the purportedly outraged “women
of Harvard” – women are too dimwitted to understand
that the mere observation of innate differences between the genders
is not tantamount to a hateful accusation of female inferiority.
According to the Harvard faculty committee, top female scholars
are too timid or intolerant to consider working at an esteemed
university, so long as they disagree with its president. And
thanks to Nancy Hopkins, women have once again been portrayed
as oversensitive and hyper-emotional.
“It is so upsetting that all these brilliant young women
[at Harvard] are being led by a man who views them this way,” Hopkins
told The Boston Globe. Actually, it may be upsetting for her;
in reality, however, most of the “brilliant young women” are
simply too busy and too sensible to wallow in the orgy of righteous
wrath and overheated indignation that she and her ideological
cohorts have spearheaded.
Speaking as a Harvard graduate, Nancy Hopkins
and her friends can spare me their “concern.” I’d
rather have their apologies. tOR
Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst, commentator and CaliforniaRepublic.org editorial
director based in San Marino, CA. Ms. Liebau also served
as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Her web log can be found at CarolLiebau.blogspot.com