We’ve seen it before: you can be fired as a professor or have your admission revoked as a student if you misgender a transgender person or question DEI philosophy. But seeing crowds of their own students and faculty calling for the genocide of the Jewish people, the presidents of several major universities reacted with a… meh.
Harvard University President Claudine Gay, former University of Pennsylvania head Liz Magill (she resigned under heavy pressure Saturday), and MIT chief Sally Kornbluth all thoroughly embarrassed themselves and our country this week during hearings by the House Committee on Education and Workforce when they failed to condemn the virulent antisemitism on their campuses and the chants for “Intifada Revolution” and Jewish genocide by their students and faculty.
Both UPenn and Harvard are part of the eight-school Ivy League, but MIT is not, even though it is considered top-tier and is often mistakenly considered to be a member of that club.
Their testimony was shameful. So far, only Magill has paid the price for her ridiculous equivocations, but it’s only Sunday, and we’ll see what transpires this week.
Senior Hoover Institution Fellow Victor Davis Hanson eviscerated the decline of our once legendary educational institutions in a blistering X thread Saturday, labeling the three school presidents “our three blind mice.”
Three blind mice. Three blind mice.See how they run. See how they run…
Our Three Blind Mice
“Three blind mice. Three blind mice.
See how they run. See how they run…”
The recent testimonies of the three university presidents (Claudine Gay of Harvard, Sally Kornbluth of MIT, and [soon to be departed?] University of Pennsylvania’s Liz McGill)…
— Victor Davis Hanson (@VDHanson) December 9, 2023
It’s a long thread, but I’ll try to hit the highlights. First, he says academic elitists like Kornbluth, Gay, and Magill have done more harm to higher ed than anything else in recent times:
The recent testimonies of the three university presidents (Claudine Gay of Harvard, Sally Kornbluth of MIT, and… University of Pennsylvania’s Liz McGill) concerning their inaction about endemic anti-Semitism on their campuses have probably done more damage to higher education than any recent event in memory. (And note there was not a white, male, heterosexual supposed oppressor to be found among the enlightened).
RedState has reported numerous antisemitic incidents at our nation’s institutions of “higher education”:
Hanson laid into the three blind mice for their blatant double standards on free speech, what he calls “systemic prejudice”:
The three blind mice could not even lie well. Like nearly all contemporary university presidents, they have long revoked admissions, suspended students, or relieved faculty from teaching for any language, expression, or advocacy they considered incorrect, which translates as anything not compatible with wokism or DEI. Invoking ‘freedom of speech’ to disguise their moral cowardice is pathetic when they have never on their campuses believed in freedom of speech. One incorrect word about someone trans, a misplaced pronoun, or a clumsy reference to a non-white student, and the offender would be punished immediately—followed by the usual performance-art, virtue-signaling, “this is not who we are”/“there is no place for such hatred on this campus” memo from a careerist dean or bully provost.
The professor, farmer, and prolific author went on to point out that the three are supposed to be the smartest people out there, yet they were “utterly eviscerated by Republican congressional representatives with no such academic credentials.”
When the president of Harvard or MIT is rendered a moral pygmy and intellectual lightweight by our local congressional representatives, it warns us of what higher education has become and perhaps reminds why academics should be kept as far away from governance as possible.
His final point was that they only issued groveling apologies in the wake of their disastrous congressional testimonies because they saw a threat to their universities’ pocketbooks—in the form of withdrawn donations, of which there have been many.
But Hanson has a plan:
…the taxpayer can reign in a Harvard or MIT—should the U.S. government condition billions of dollars in annual subsidies to campuses on non-discriminatory policies, reconsider tax-exemptions for university giving, tax their endowment income until higher education is truly disinterested and non-partisan, and remove the government from the $2 trillion student loan racket that ensures tuition inflation, administrative bloat, and generations of youth suffering from arrested development.
I like his ideas, but I don’t have much confidence that they will be deployed anytime soon, given that higher education in America has become an over-priced wokefest where actual learning has been placed on the back burner, and there are too many entrenched interests to easily unseat.
Nevertheless, I find VDH to be an interesting thinker who is willing to say things that other academics are not.
He’s spot on here.