The Corner

I Have Now Decided

Tha the faculty at Harvard is going mad. It’s like the Crucible or something. It’s approaching an inquisition. Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times:

“My best guess, to provoke you, of what’s behind all of this is that the largest phenomenon – by far – is the general clash between people’s legitimate family desires and employers’ current desire for high power and high intensity; that in the special case of science and engineering, there are issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude; and that those considerations are reinforced by what are in fact lesser factors involving socialization and continuing discrimination,” Dr. Summers said, according to the transcript.

“I would like nothing better than to be proved wrong, because I would like nothing better than for these problems to be addressable simply by everybody understanding what they are, and working very hard to address them,” he added.

Over and over in the transcript, he made clear that he might be wrong in his theories, and he challenged researchers to study his propositions.

He also urged research on “the quality of marginal hires” to the faculty when efforts to diversify are under way. How many of these hires, he asked, have “turned out to be much better than the institutional norm who wouldn’t have been found without a greater search?” Or are “plausible compromises” that are not unreasonable additions to the faculty? And “how many of them are what the right-wing critics of all of this suppose represent clear abandonments of quality standards”?

Several Harvard professors said they were more furious after reading the precise remarks, saying they felt he believed women were intellectually inferior to men.

Everett I. Mendelsohn, a professor of the history of science, said that once he read the transcript, he understood why Dr. Summers “might have wanted to keep it a secret.”

“Where he seems to be off the mark particularly is in his sweeping claims that women don’t have the ability to do well in high-powered jobs,” said Professor Mendelsohn, part of a faculty group that sharply criticized Dr. Summers’s leadership at a meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences on Tuesday. “There’s an implication that they’ve taken themselves out of that role. But he brings forward no evidence.”

Now look. The guy said he was there to provoke people. He said he was there not as a president but as an academic. He was speaking to an off-the-record session of grown-ups. He said numerous times that he was offering theories he hoped would and could be falsified. And for this the Harvard faculty might vote no-confidence in the guy. And he’s already been forced to apologize three or four times (I’m losing count) and appoint not one but two task forces which no one doubts will release reports saying Summers is a neanderthal.

Meanwhile, that no-talent-ass-clown Ward Churchill is a champion of free speech for refusing to apologize or even “back-up one inch” on his statement that the decent, innocent victims of 9/11 were the moral equivalent of the man who sent babies and old women to the gas chambers.

What is wrong with these people?