News of Harvard President Claudine Gay’s resignation on Tuesday prompted understandable celebration on the right and much-deserved praise for journalists Christopher Rufo, Christopher Brunet, and Aaron Sibarium, who exposed Gay as a serial plagiarist.
No doubt, celebration is in order. Gay was of course not only a plagiarist but a Hamas apologist who shrugged off rampant antisemitism on Harvard’s campus in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israeli civilians. In a shocking congressional hearing last month about the spread of antisemitism on college campuses, Gay, along with MIT President Sally Kornbluth and former University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill (who was forced to resign shortly after the hearing), insisted that calling for the genocide of Jews doesn’t necessarily constitute harassment, and instead depends on the “context.”
So, yes, Gay is a toxic, racist, left-wing ideologue who was deservedly hounded out of her post as Harvard president. But let’s be sober about what’s happened here and what hasn’t. Gay’s resignation is a scalp, but it’s not quite the victory some on the right seem to think it is.
For one thing, Gay was forced out not for the appalling moral insanity she displayed before Congress about antisemitism on campus, but because that notoriety exposed her academic work to closer scrutiny — and it turns out she’s an academic fraud.
In her resignation letter, however, Gay admitted no wrongdoing and instead blamed her ouster on “personal attacks and threats fueled by racial animus.” What’s more, she appears to have resigned as president but retained her faculty position despite her plagiarism, which shows you how seriously Harvard takes all of this.
And she had no shortage of defenders step up on Tuesday after news broke of her resignation. Chief among them was another race hustler and shameless grifter, Ibram X. Kendi, who blamed “racist mobs” trying to “topple all black people from positions of power.” (Recall that Kendi is himself under some scrutiny for the failure of his $40 million Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University.)
Not to be outdone, the greatest race hustler of them all, Al Sharpton, declared that Gay’s resignation was an “attack” on “every black woman” in the country. Marc Lamont Hill, also a racist, insisted that the next president of Harvard “MUST be a black woman.”
On CNN, Matt Egan turned himself into a meme on Tuesday, saying, “We should note that Claudine Gay has not been accused of stealing anyone’s ideas in any of her writings. She has been accused of sort of more like copying other peoples’ writings without attribution. So it’s been more sloppy attribution than stealing anyone’s ideas.” Thanks for clearing that up, Matt.
The stark reality is that Gay’s resignation won’t change the fundamentals. Harvard has no intention of backing away from the so-called diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) ideology that propelled Gay to the president’s office, nor does Gay herself see anything wrong with the DEI agenda as such.
Indeed, during her tenure first as dean of the faculty and then, briefly, as president of Harvard, she built what Rufo has called a “DEI empire,” creating a host of new programs and campus initiatives to impose a radical racialist ideology on every facet of university life. Following the death of George Floyd — an event that precipitated her eventual ascent to Harvard’s presidency — she launched efforts to rename buildings and programs deemed racist, remove historical portraits of white men, and establish a sprawling DEI bureaucracy that, as Rufo put it, “seeks to influence how students speak, think, and behave in relation to race.”
Is Harvard now going to go back and undo all Gay’s work on this front? After her disastrous performance before Congress last month, the university removed most of the DEI materials from its website, but don’t hold your breath waiting for Harvard to abandon the work Gay pursued as dean and president.
Why? Because for committed leftists, defeat isn’t an option. All retreats are tactical only. The overall mission — deconstructing Western civilization — remains the same.
In other words, this isn’t about Gay or Kendi or any other single person or institution. The problem is that nearly all of academia — not just Ivy League schools like Harvard or Penn, but most schools large and small — is rotten to the core, hollowed out by leftist ideologues who want to destroy Western civilization and transform society. Having achieved nearly perfect ideological homogeneity in academia, having eliminated conservative or right-leaning academics from their faculty ranks, the left is using the institutions it has captured to revolutionize every aspect of our lives.
So it doesn’t ultimately matter that Gay was forced out as president. Schools like Harvard cannot be reformed. Without the possibility of reform, the only option left to those who want to save the West from ideologues like Gay is to crush the institutions they control. Destroy them and build new ones that serve the original purposes of a university.
One practical way to do that, as I argued recently in these pages, is to adopt Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance’s proposal to drastically increase the rate at which large university endowments are taxed. Vance has rightly characterized these endowments as massive slush funds for the left, and it’s time the right used whatever tools it has to take these funds away. In the case of Vance’s two-page bill, that means increasing the tax rate on large university endowments (those over $10 billion) from the current measly 1.4 percent to 35 percent.
To what end? For starters, simply to prevent these schools from using their considerable resources to push things like DEI. But even more important than depriving them of funds is to enact policy that stakes out the position that these schools do not serve the national interest and therefore don’t deserve preferential treatment. More than that, they harm the national interest and should be treated as hostile entities.
Until we adopt that way of thinking about places like Harvard and ideologues like Gay, the trajectory of these institutions won’t change — even if every once in a while a fraud like Gay is exposed and forced to resign.