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Sally C. Pipes - Contributor
[Courtesty of Pacific Research Institute]
C. Pipes is President and CEO, Pacific
Research Institute [go
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Contrarian: Theme from a Summers’s Place
Liberals academic apartheid…
[Sally C. Pipes] 5/5/05
Some columns address issues then drop them forever. Not so the
Contrarian, which turns again to Harvard, where engendered strife
has made the venerated campus an even more hostile environment
for president Larry Summers.
In a January
conference at the National Bureau of Economic Research, on
of the progress of women in the academy, Mr. Summers
referred to three theories as to why there might be a shortage
of women in the upper echelons of science and math. He said they
might face discrimination, that demanding 80-hour commitments
might not be so appealing, and that certain “innate differences” between
men and women might have something to do with it.
For the casual
listener, even in the academy, there was nothing at all controversial
about what Mr. Summers said. However, the
remarks set off militant feminists, who do not like the concept
of innate differences between men and women. For them, everything
is culturally determined. Men and women are, in their view, “undifferentiated.”
As we observed,
militant feminists assume that fewer women than men in any
that women are “underrepresented.” The
dogma includes the notion that, in every endeavor, job, school,
or government department, men and women, along with ethnic groups,
must be represented in equal numbers. If women are not so represented,
according to the theory, the cause must be discrimination, to
be remedied, of course, by government action.
Summers wound up apologizing to a group of angry feminist professors.
Press reports even hinted that Summers might be fired.
He’s still in office, but has hardly remained unscathed.
Harvard’s faculty of Arts and Sciences passed
a motion of “no confidence” in president Summers.
The vote, reportedly unprecedented, was 218 to 185. While that
was bad enough, things soon got worse. Harvard professors voted
253 to 137 to criticize president Summers’s style of management.
This puts him under obvious pressure to resign.
of this treatment should be apparent but let me also refer
in The Economist, a keen observer of such
affairs and not a publication given to overstatement. Since there
was nothing paranoid or “sexist” about his comments,
the issue is the right of Mr. Summers “to express an opinion
which (though quite plausible) appears to be unpopular with the
faculty of Arts and Sciences. It beggars belief that a community
of scholars, or people purporting to be scholars, wish to deny
him that right.”
They do wish
to deny him that right. Compare the treatment of Mr. Summers
Churchill, the tenured University of Colorado
professor who compared the victims of 9/11 – not the perpetrators – with
Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann. While the addled Churchill
has taken his lumps, deservedly so, the faculty pressure on him
does not match the jihad against Larry Summers.
As we observed,
the Harvard boss found out the hard way that “diversity,” supposedly
the prevailing ethos on campus, does not include statements,
or people, at odds with prevailing campus orthodoxy. That orthodoxy
is driven by the dogmas of militant feminism. And it brooks no
alternative to the politically correct line.
“People of either sex,” said The
are so easily offended or discouraged might be better employed
away from the battle of ideas.”
As it stands, unfortunately, a militant minority holds a veto,
a kind of academic apartheid. Nobody at Harvard, one notes, is
calling militant feminists on the carpet for their own dogmas
and inflammatory statements.
That is why
Ward Churchill is likely to outlast Mr. Summers, a man of great
distinction. If he resigns, The Economist concluded, it would be “one of the blackest acts in the
history of the university.” True, but it would not be surprising.
Meanwhile, those who aspire to attend Harvard now have a good
reason, other than high tuition fees, to look elsewhere. tRO
2005 Pacific Research Institute