Wokeism is Doomed

grarpamp grarpamp at gmail.com
Tue Jan 9 21:29:21 PST 2024

Claudine Gay Is Only Digging Deeper: Victor Davis Hanson


It is understandable that Claudine Gay is furious over her forced
resignation, her calamitous fall from grace, and the public consensus
about the great damage done to Harvard by her presidency.

But still, playing the wounded fawn is no excuse or defense.

Thus Claudine Gay’s recent New York Times disingenuous op-ed alleging
racism as the prime cause of her career demise was, to quote
Talleyrand, “worse than a crime, it was a blunder.” And her
blame-gaming will only hurt her cause and reinforce the public’s
weariness with such boilerplate and careerist resorts to racism where
it does not exist.

Gay knows that her meteoric career trajectory through prestigious
Phillips Academy, Princeton, Stanford, and Harvard was not symptomatic
of systemic racism, but rather just the opposite – in large part
through institutional efforts to show special concern, allowances, and
deference due to her race and gender.

And she knows well that her forced resignation was not caused by a
conspiracy of conservative activists. It came at the request also of
liberal op-ed writers in now embarrassed left-wing megaphones like the
New York Times and the Washington Post, black intellectuals, and
academics – and donors who usually identify, like the vast majority of
Harvard philanthropists, as liberal Democrats.

Gay knows, too, that in her now notorious congressional testimony, had
she just offered an independent assessment of the epidemic of
antisemitism on her campus and a Harvard plan to stop it (rather than
joining in the finger-in-the-wind groupthink of the other two
presidents), and had she not been guilty of long-standing, serial, and
flagrant plagiarism, she would still have her job.

Gay knows that other white university presidents have recently been
forced to resign for far less culpable behavior than her own.
Pennsylvania president Liz Magill was forced to quit after her Dec. 5
seeming inability or unwillingness to act against blatant antisemitic
speech and conduct on her own campus, or Stanford’s president Marc
Tessier-Lavigne for co-authoring, some decades earlier, scientific
papers whose results were not always based on authenticated data.

Again, as for Gay’s insinuations of a cabal that took her down, she
also knows that such a charge is no more true or false than the public
outrage, both liberal and conservative, over Magill’s obtuseness, or
the largely left-wing effort to remove the white male Tessier-Lavigne.

Gay knows that she herself has disciplined and censored lots of
Harvard professors, among them preeminent black scholars, such as
Roland Fryer and Ronald Sullivan, on speculative allegations far less
egregious than her own serial plagiarism and inconsistent policies of
addressing “hate speech.” Did anyone suggest she was then a “racist”?

Gay knows that as president she oversaw a code of behavior that
routinely severely disciplined students, staff, and professors for
plagiarism of a nature far less serial and systematic than her own.

Gay indeed knows that her plagiarism was far more serious than
suggested by her half-hearted defense of her scholarship (“I have
never misrepresented my research findings, nor have I ever claimed
credit for the research of others”).

In fact, when anyone – again and again – copies word-for-word whole
paragraphs without attribution or quotation marks, or lifts entire
sentences and appropriates the thoughts of another without sufficient
footnotes, that is precisely “misrepresentation” and claiming “credit”
where credit is not due. If a Harvard president and full professor
makes such a defense of intellectual theft, what will it say in the
future about Harvard?

Gay knows that her claim of being proactive in correcting some lifted
passages was not proactive at all. It was entirely reactive and came
only in response to criticism of her scholarly methods.

Gay knows that she has done irrevocable damage to Harvard; given the
Harvard Corporation, its legal team, its 700 supportive faculty
letter-signers, and its satellite freelancers leave to embarrass
themselves further; and gravely eroded the institution’s reputation
and credibility by going out of their way to defend the indefensible
solely on her behalf:

    By threatening legal action against the New York Post for airing
the legitimate charges of plagiarism
    By creating a new, ad hoc vocabulary to legitimize her plagiarism
(“duplicative language”/“missteps”)
    By also echoing her charges of racism (and in surreal fashion
without any self-awareness that if such charges were true, then
Harvard would not have forced her to resign or at least would have
refused her resignation)
    By claiming that anonymous complaints of her intellectual theft
were somehow illegitimate by virtue of their whistleblower status
    By absurdly insinuating that plagiarism is not plagiarism if the
plagiarized does not complain

There was one key issue that Gay neither raised nor much less
resolved: Given that now Professor Gay has made no effort to explain
item by item all the allegations of decades-long and habitual
plagiarism, does she feel now exempt from such charges as a Harvard
professor of political science?

And if so, is her faculty exemption of the sort usually accorded other
professors and students under similar suspicion of plagiarism?

In the end, was it really asking too much of a Harvard president just
to do two things? 1) Explain to Congress why there was a problem of
antisemitism at Harvard, and then outline the concrete steps she would
take to stop the spread of growing antisemitic speech and conduct at
her campus, and 2) Don’t plagiarize the work of other scholars?

This article originally appeared on X, formerly Twitter, Jan. 4, 2024.

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