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Dehumanizing Anti-Civilization Dogma Behind DEI’s Destruction Of Universities

It's time to build the alternative

Right-wing activists are responsible for the resignation of Harvard’s president, Claudine Gay, say mainstream news media organizations. “Harvard president's resignation highlights new conservative weapon against colleges: plagiarism,” read the Associated Press headline. Politico attributed Gay’s resignation to a “conservative activist’s crusade.” Both the New York Times and Washington Post published pieces suggesting that Gay resigned her position because of conservative pressure. And many other commentators suggested that racism played a role in Gay’s departure.

But there is clear evidence of plagiarism in eight of Gay’s 17 published works, and the fact that conservatives rather than liberals first made the allegations likely made Harvard’s famously liberal board of trustees less, not more, reluctant to take action. Moreover, the argument that Gay was treated differently than other university presidents is contradicted by the resignation of Stanford’s president last summer after the student newspaper and a subsequent investigation by the university uncovered evidence of falsified data in his published work.

It’s true that other issues may have affected the decision by Gay to leave. Conservatives had criticized Gay and the presidents of MIT and the University of Pennsylvania after they testified to Congress about how they were handling anti-Israel student protests, and one of them, Penn’s president, resigned. It was conservative journalists Chris Rufo, Christopher Brunet, and Aaron Sibarium who published the stories about Gay’s plagiarism. And Brunet had first leveled some of the criticisms at Gay in April 2022, and they were largely ignored until her Congressional testimony in December of last year.

But Gay had survived the controversy over her testimony to Congress, and it’s far from clear that Gay would still be president had the plagiarism accusations been made by mainstream or progressive sources instead of conservative ones. “Our extensive deliberations affirm our confidence that President Gay is the right leader to help our community heal and to address the very serious societal issues we are facing,” the Harvard Corporation said in a statement a few days after her testimony. The bottom line is that Harvard’s own code strictly prohibits plagiarism, which also violates the university’s core mission to pursue the truth, and there was simply too much of it for Harvard to wave away.

To the extent the episode revealed prejudice, it was in Harvard’s selection of Gay in the first place. Her scholarly record is below-average compared both to past Harvard presidents and to current Harvard professors. Her career as an administrator consisted of trying to get Harvard faculty, staff, and students to embrace an Orwellian glossary of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) terms, which required embracing pseudoscientific, reductive, and dehumanizing views of race and racism. Those malign ideas include: race essentialism, the notion that racial stereotypes do or should determine one’s life outcomes; race exaggeration, the view that racial prejudice is the most significant factor and that it’s embedded in laws and institutions; and racial segregation, the idea that it’s better to divide people by race in schools, in the workplace, and in politics, as Boston’s mayor recently did.

The underlying problem with DEI is its imposition of what can accurately be described as a totalitarian language, culture, and politics on universities. It is authoritarian in that if you run afoul of it, as Harvard economist Roland Fryer did, the DEI leaders of the institution will punish you, as Gay did. But in their demand to change how people speak and think, and by inserting themselves into every aspect of life, advocates of DEI slip into the totalizing, “whole of society” approach that characterized past totalitarian episodes.

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