Harvard—Out the Frying Pan Into the Fire

Victor Davis Hanson
American Greatness

Harvard may assume the forced resignation of its president, Claudine Gay, has finally ended its month-long scandal over her tenure.

Gay stepped down, remember, amid serious allegations of serial plagiarism—without refuting the charges. She proved either unable or unwilling to discipline those on her campus who were defiantly anti-Semitic in speech and action.

But Gay’s removal is not the end of Harvard’s dilemma. Rather, it is the beginning.

In the respective press releases from both Gay and the Harvard Corporation, racial animus was cited as a reason for her removal.

Gay did not even refer to her failure to stop anti-Semitism on her campus or her own record of blatant plagiarism.

Yet playing the race card reflects poorly on both and for a variety of reasons.

One, Gay’s meager publication record—a mere eleven articles without a single published book of her own—had somehow earned her a prior Harvard full professorship and presidency. Such a thin resume leading to academic stardom is unprecedented.

Two, the University of Pennsylvania forced the resignation of its president, Liz Magill. She sat next to Gay during that now-infamous congressional hearing in which they both claimed they were unable to discipline blatant anti-Semitism on their campuses.

Instead, both plead “free speech” and “context” considerations.

Such excuses were blatantly amoral and untrue. In truth, ivy-league campuses routinely sanction, punish, or remove staff, faculty, or students deemed culpable for speech or behavior deemed hurtful to protected minorities—except apparently white males and Jews.

Yet Magill was immediately forced to resign, and Gay was not. Also noteworthy was Magill’s far more impressive and extensive administrative experience, along with a more prestigious scholarship that was free of even a suggestion of plagiarism.

Academia’s immediate firing of a white woman while trying desperately to save the career of a less qualified and ethically challenged black woman will be seen not as a case of racial bias but more likely of racial preference.

Indeed, to keep Gay’s job and to defend her from plagiarism charges, both Harvard and Gay herself were willing to say things that were simply absurd, if not patently untrue.

Harvard invented a new phrase “duplicative language” to euphemize the reality of Gay’s intellectual theft.

Even after Gay resigned, Harvard jumped the shark by further downplaying her plagiarism by dubbing it as mere “missteps.”

Harvard and its supporters further embarrassed themselves by alleging that if the victims of Gay’s plagiarism didn’t object, then why did her expropriation matter that much?

Are we then to assume that plagiarism is not a serious violation of the entire ethos of scholarship, quite in addition to the aggrieved plagiarized party?

The university descended even further by suggesting that if the complaints were lodged by anonymous scholars, they were somehow less serious.

Has Harvard ever heard of the reasons why whistleblowers are often protected from retribution by grants of anonymity?

Liberal Harvard, through its lawyers, even threatened the New York Post with legal action if it aired charges of Gay’s plagiarism.

Yet only days later, the university was swamped by further proof of Gay’s scholarly misconduct, involving improper use of data and more plagiarism extending back even to her dissertation.

Harvard, remember, claimed that it had conducted a thorough investigation that had cleared her of actionable plagiarism—even as more charges arose of her prior culpability.

But more importantly, what happens to ex-president Gay now?

Does resigning from the Harvard presidency and returning to a full professorship mean that charges of plagiarism disappear?

Would any other Harvard professors continue to be employed without addressing over two dozen separate charges of plagiarism lodged against them?

Do Gay, the Harvard Corporation, and the more than 700 Harvard professors who closed ranks and wrote a letter supporting Gay now argue that plagiarism is no longer a serious offense at the nation’s supposedly most preeminent university?

Will students who emulate Gay’s habit of copy-and-paste, failure-to-footnote, and misuse-of-data now be exempt from dismissal or suspension?

After Gay’s embarrassing December 5 congressional testimony and her resignation, what now is the Harvard policy toward anti-Semitism?

If next week, anti-Israel students once again call for the destruction of the Jewish people in Israel all the way “from the river to the sea,” or if they again storm Harvard’s Widener library, screaming support for the October 7 massacre and intimidating Jewish students, what will the new—or old—Harvard do?

Again nothing?

Finally, Harvard insinuated that Gay was fired by racist outside pressure—despite the fact that many of her critics were large donors furious about the diminution of the reputation of their alma mater.

Is Harvard suggesting that its own mega-donors are racists?

What then might come next?

The resignation of the entire board of the Harvard Corporation that is the ultimate cause of Harvard’s descent into mediocrity.

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50 thoughts on “Harvard—Out the Frying Pan Into the Fire”

  1. Ivy League colleges have long been cesspools protected by wealthy, connected alumni, while they completely destroy our legal profession and our country.

    1. Michael John King

      Right, so the next president of Harvard needs to be a woman, Jewish and a fraud – voila: George Santos.

  2. Thank you so much for being the voice of reason. I admire your courageous ability to clearly state the truth in our confused and misguided time. Sadly, it seems we are slowly losing every moral standard (The Ten Commandments).

  3. Jackie Callaway

    Besides the blatant DEI discrimination, the no merit policies at Harvard, the students that were punished or even removed as students for plagiarism, should sue them.

  4. Nothing will ever happen to Gay because she is democrat. Just like Biden when he was caught back in the late 80’s.

  5. YES! Fire the whole board—Priscilla Pritzger(hopefully correct name), and all. Sister of the Gov. of IL? A Trans activist, I believe! Can this possibly be the beginning of the fall of “lies, affirmative action, DEI, etc? Christopher Rufo told Politico how he and at least 2 others accomplished the firing of Gay.

  6. I read the other day that Bill Ackman, the billionaire, is asking the entire board for Harvard to resign. Including Penny Pritzker.

  7. Just illustrates the contortions required with “situational ethics.” Plagiarism and coddling anti-Semites is always wrong, whether you’re white, black, male, or female. And even if you’re “trans”!

    1. Harvard’s “decent into mediocrity”? That horse left the barn a long time ago. Harvard didn’t even bother to close the barn door afterwards.

  8. Nicholas Ruggiero

    Maybe past students accused of the same misconduct can sue Harvard. There may have been students that were expunged for that very reason. How will the professors judge whether a student ha plagiarized or jus ‘misstepped’ ?

    1. This is a great question. I hope prior students who have been expunged for plagiarism find out why they were not given the same preferred treatment. What makes Gay an exception?

  9. This is another example of a Jim Crow entitled minority being allowed to mock us as if we’re stupid to what she blatantly said to our faces about her racist hatred of hard working Jews and her poor excuse of a resignation letter which paints her as a racist loving stay on the plantation minority who cheated her way to the top knowing full well she was free and clear because she hit every single button the wokist two party system expects us to be numbnut clueless idiots about. This is exactly why our country has no more standards of the constitution it’s supposed to abide by.

  10. I heard that knowledge of Gay’s flagrant plagiarism was evident before her pathetic Congressional answers that brought Harvard’s decline into woke mediocrity to national limelight. Don’t recall where the name of the news outlet that published her fraud, ( some D.C. based online journal?) but any major news outlet would have been aware of it, but ignored reprinting it, to their journalistic shame.
    More evidence of the true propaganda nature of the Washington Post and NYT vs actual integrity.
    As for Gay’s complaint that her ouster was from racist forces, and Harvard trying to cover their ineptitude in hiring her and her forced resignation arose from ”
    by racist outside pressure” was in fact the opposite. She gained her positions at Harvard by reverse racism.

  11. I feel sorry for Dr. Gay who has lost her job at Harvard. I would like to reach out to her and offer her a job. I have three cords of wood that needs splitting with an ax so it can be used as firewood. I will pay her $50.00 a cord. We all need good honest work. She will find this work will take her mind off of her troubles. I know it is small potatoes for her, but it’s the best I can offer at this time.

    Jeremy Lord, from Lebanon, ME where I learned the value of honest work

    1. Yup, she needs to learn the value of physical labor, clear her mind a bit. Maybe, she’ll come to understand just how annoying those academic platitudes are to most people. Then again, $900,000 in salary + benefits probably seem rather enticing in spite of the utter shame brought upon herself.

  12. Victor,

    Please please help frame and guide the thinking of tens of thousands of Americans who know they have been overrun and backed into a corner as to how exactly we all must now (figuratively) fight the Jacobins and their madness. Everyone is slowly realizing we are surrounded but we all still have our (figurative) weapons close at hand. Is it decoupling en masse from the Ivy League? Is it a refutation of stupid pronouns? Get behind those conservative leaders who actually fight ? Please tell us.

  13. Christopher Serpa

    Thank you for the well reasoned implications based on factual evidences of misconduct, hypocrisy, and what appears to be out right lies. The cracks in the dam are beginning to be exposed, and now seen by all. Hopefully it will fully collapse. Sadly many of the insiders and professionals already knew the facts, and only because of public exposure to the lay people (the deplorables), and their financial supporters is any action at all being taken. I do believe much more will be exposed, and then even the sane left will have to admit the absurdity. Yet sadly again; I’m fearful they may once again choose to be deluded. Thank you, please keep up the fight, and please teach some young scholars to be ready to step into the fray.

  14. James Slagowski

    It just proves that big Universities are just like big Tech Companies and are all corrupted by the Woke DEI stigma. Big Universities do not need Government Grants and such, they have multi-billion dollar Foundations that suffice for them. Harvard even has the Corporation to rule over it and as we can see, it is also corrupted. Also, it is almost laughable that they played the Race Card when none of that was ever exhibited. Both of them, Ms. Gay and Harvard need to be relegated to the dustbin of history.

  15. “Racist outside pressure” for Claudine Gay’s resignation is an excuse for her disgraced response about anti-semitism speech on campus. Gay was asked whether “calling for the genocide of Jews violates Harvard’s code of conduct,” by Rep. Elise Stefanik. She replied, “It depends on the context.” Calling for the genocide of any people is language of violence. Not denouncing such violent language should have called for her immediate removal. Violent language encourages violence and allows for deviant behavior. Harvard should not allow Gay to remain at the university as it demonstrates a lack of principled conduct and opposes American values. No student of any race or nationality should have to walk on campus and feel threatened by their peers or professors. Our institutions of education should be a safe place for every student.

  16. Ms Gay has become symbolic of a number of society’s ills. First, she is the ultimate poster child for Affirmative Action and the expected results of low or little success in achievement in the academic or professional arena. I say arena because such endeavors require competition which shows one’s competence. Second she illustrates the Peter Principle which states that often individuals are promoted far beyond their ability or competence. Third, that character is determined by outside events, thus the playing of the Race Card to deflect from one’s inner failures such as lack of honesty and personal integrity. In short, she exemplifies the progressive elite approach to life.

  17. No one ever brings up the disgusting fact that Gay plagiarized supposed scholarly work that was bashing White people. Her “work” was a racist diatribe against Whites. The scandal shouldn’t be that she plagiarized it. The anti White racist diatribe itself should be the scandal. It’s should also be scandalous that her mistake was not standing up to anti Semitic hate when every Ivy League campus is built on anti White hate. Racism against Whites is required at every elite University and all large corporations. The Orwellian name for it is affirmative action. On campuses the anti White hate goes way beyond double standards for Whites and Asians vs everyone else.

  18. I just don’t get it. I attended Smith College in the 50s. I do not recall a single incident of smearing anyone for their ethnicity. Was I wrong? Did I go through college without hearing or seeing anything untoward? I remember only that many girls had economic problems.

  19. Do Machiavellian… end-justifies-means… Progressive Slavocrats come from Ivy Be-Leaguers? Rules for thee, not-me types? In other words, absolute evil justified by Ivy League schools and their West Coast duplicates? Real-Politik = Real Bad Dudes running the Planet into oblivion?

  20. I think I’ll submit Gay’s doctoral thesis to Harvard as my own. Working title: “Whitewashing Duplicative Language in the 21st Century Ivy League: Contextualizing Academic Diversity.” If they turn me down for a Phd, I’ll sue for racism, global warming, the Holocaust, and the Ukranian border crisis. That’ll learn ’em.

  21. This is great news that Gay is not president and one step forward but there is a long way to go for Harvard University. But I think Gay should be kick out and made an example to protect Academia and restore meritocracy. Thank you VDH for your work in this area. I not an Academic but understand why we have plagiarism rules in place to protect other peoples hard work.

  22. January 4th, 2024
    Ms.Gay is the epitome of what’s happened in our country the last 12 years. Now I understand she is NOT a homosexual ? So much confusion but in truth is it really? It’s all planned out like this. I have an uncle who grew up during the Vietnam war (Army infantry) and became an extreme critic of Vietnam War and America ( his college professor was very instrumental in teaching him the Marxist ideology in college on the GI bill). They’ve been working in a very stealthy, patient, methodical, evil way for the last 50-60 years. Once Obama left office the Marxist masks were no longer necessary. They got greedy though, and we are on to them. The Neo marxists and the corporations, uniparty globalists are all working to destroy America as we know it. Very short-sighted for financial gain, perhaps two decades before half the population is considered poor? Trump 2024! Principles before personalities.

  23. Fired?
    Fired, yet retaining her $900,000 annual presidential salary?
    Arguably, it could be considered a promotion: same salary but less responsibility, less the face of the employer.

    Admittedly, carrying the burden of “white privilege” is not easy but never did i suffer a firing.
    But, had an employer opted to fire this bearer of white privilege, it is extremely doubtful they would have allowed the piddling salary to be carried forth, otherwise, it would have been worth the shame.

  24. Karma and nemesis happen, even to the elite eventually. It is almost comical, how the snowball has grown and grown and grown despite all attempts by the Harvard corporation, the board, the professors, the news media, you name it …to stop it, . And I think you are right Victor, it may take a life of its own like the Dylan Mulvaney, Bud Light catastrophe. It may not stop until the whole board is forced out, and hopefully some real changes will happen at Harvard, and everywhere else.

  25. Hopefully, this will encourage less prestigious but with greater integrity universities to gain students who are seeking a valuable education than that provided by Harvard and will receive more respect than those from Harvard deserve.

  26. After considering Professor Hanson’s irrefutable observation and logic, I find my comments must simply be considered “duplicative language”.

  27. I believe the now-mere-Professor Gay must also be fired. The fact that her $900K/year salary remains unchanged is a show of the Harvard Board’s continued audacity and tone-deaf elitism.

    Assuming they remain vocal, the fact that even some outspoken non-Woke Harvard *students* voiced their demands that Gay step down from the Presidency is going to be a growing un-ignorable factor, I believe.

  28. When you’re, with the Flintstones
    Have a yabba-dabba-doo time
    A dabba-doo time
    We’ll have a gay old time

    We’ll have a gay old time!

    by Jay Smith – honestly…

  29. Great work Victor…again.
    Harvard is my test case. Can a formerly successful institution recover from putting fools in leadership roles who then do stupid things, recover its former reputation? Here are my definitions.
    Nassim Taleb coined the expression “Intellectual yet idiot” (IYI). He spends a full chapter in Skin in the Game to describe this person as someone with a high level of intellect (high IQ) and at the same time for the last 2000 years be defined as a fool. The Harvard Board and the leadership team at Harvard qualify as fools using Taleb’s definition, but would they also be stupid? Let’s consult Forest Gump’s mother who defined stupid for her son Forest in the movie – “Stupid is as stupid does.” In only 5 words she correctly defines stupid as an action. It’s not a condition –it’s what you do. It’s a verb. The Harvard BOD and the attorneys advising Dr. Gay before and after the House Committee hearing did stupid things that dug a deep hole for Harvard and Dr. Gay. I don’t know yet but I suspect the first step is to remove the fools and stop doing stupid things.

  30. So, let me get this right. They hired her because she was black and fired her because she was unethical and incompetent. Why am I not surprised?

    Well at least she is not obviously racist. Or is she? Aren’t Jews a race?

  31. Just read today that Ms. Gay is going to remain at Harvard as a professor at a salary of $900,000. What lessons have really been learned?

  32. None of this will happen, but it needs to.
    -Get rid of legacy admissions
    -Ensure at least 45% of faculty are more conservative
    -Elect a moderate conservative academic, president
    -Abandon DEI and restore meritocracy

  33. Although I am aware of the reputation of Harvard University, and although I have worked with professionals from most major Universities in the USA, the UK, EU and Canada, on many world class projects, and being considered a world class engineer, I have never worked with an engineering graduate from Harvard. How can this institution be considered so highly when they don’t fulfill this basic educational opportunity to the community.

  34. Harvard is not the first institution to attain preeminence, then change direction in a race to the bottom. Perhaps Diversity-Equity-Inclusion is a pernicious ideology and not a remedial program. Like its predecessor, Affirmative Action, DEI is doomed to fail.

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