Commentary on Political Economy

Monday 11 December 2023


The Ivy League Mask Falls

Journal Editorial Report: Paul Gigot interviews legal scholar Ilya Shapiro. Images: Zuma Press Composite: Mark Kelly

The presidents of MIT, Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania hid behind concerns about free speech. But as everyone paying attention knows, these schools don’t protect speech they disagree with. They punish it.

Harvard President Claudine Gay has presided over the ouster of professors for speech that violated progressive orthodoxy. As Elise Stefanik wrote on these pages on Friday, Harvard’s Title IX training says using the wrong pronouns qualifies as abuse. Harvard was 248th out of 248, and Penn was 247th, in the annual college ranking by the free-speech Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression.

Advertisement - Scroll to Continue

But because Jews in Israel are seen in the progressive canon as white oppressors and colonizers, it’s not a clear campus violation to call for murdering Jews because it depends on the context.

The three presidents have apologized for or moderated their comments before Congress, but that was only after the political consequences became clear. Believe what they said the first time. That is what their institutions now stand for.

The resignations of Penn president Elizabeth Magill and board of trustees chairman Scott Bok are best understood as attempts to placate angry donors. That’s fine as far as it goes. But if the accountability ends there, nothing much will change.

The schools may attempt to mollify the fury by adding Jews to the classes deemed oppressed. That may make antisemitism less tolerated on campus. But it won’t change the deeper rot of anti-American, anti-Western instruction that dominates so many campuses. And it won’t root out the “diversity, equity and inclusion” (DEI) policies that use race, gender and sexuality as political weapons to enforce intellectual conformity, dictate tenure decisions, and punish dissenters.

The answers must lie with boards of trustees willing to appoint presidents who will stand up to the DEI censors and require intellectual diversity among the faculty. Donors will also have to follow through on boycotting schools until they do. Too many trustees and donors are happy to settle for getting their names on buildings and their children admitted.

The reality is that many schools of higher learning these days are nurturing views that undermine classical liberal values and core American principles. Tolerance for antisemitism is one ugly example, but the problem is deeper and requires urgent attention.

No comments:

Post a Comment