The powder blue Satan makes an excellent point:
Anyone who has spent a bit of time around especially elite college campuses knows that while, yes, sometimes students protest right wing speakers – sometimes this is perfectly right and good and sometimes you can argue that they go too far and the heckler’s veto is rarely if ever appropriate but these things are always a bit more complicated than people make them out to be – it’s pressure from the top that tends to discourage left wing speakers from coming to campus. There are academics and activists on the campus circuit who every knows are “controversial,” quite often because of rather strong left wing views on things like war, carceral state, economics, racial issues, etc. Black “radicals,” commies, Palestinian activists, etc. Watch those pots of money mysteriously disappear if you try to put your hands in them to fund a visit by one of these speakers. To put it simply, it’s not controversial at all to advocate invading a country for lies, and then profiting handsomely off of that, but it is controversial to suggest that maybe, just maybe, when police are executing people in your communities that something more than accepting it quietly is necessary. Military and cops are good, the poor and the marginalized are suspect. And these are our liberal institutions!
Scott Lemieux at LGM points out this is the second time this week Harvard has acted on behalf of the rich and the powerful and the bigoted:
Michelle Jones committed a horrible crime as a teenager (killing the child that she gave birth to, the result of a rape, at age 14). In prison, she became a scholar so accomplished that she was heavily recruited by elite history Ph.D programs after earning early release. One of those programs was Harvard. Only a couple faculty members decided to act to get the acceptance withdrawn, and were successful. In one case that was based on a fear of what Fox News would say. Seem like an unfair inference? He says it explicitly:
“We didn’t have some preconceived idea about crucifying Michelle,” said John Stauffer, one of the two American studies professors. [Ed. Note: this is a tell on the level with “I don’t mean to be offensive but…”] “But frankly, we knew that anyone could just punch her crime into Google, and Fox News would probably say that P.C. liberal Harvard gave 200 grand of funding to a child murderer, who also happened to be a minority. I mean, c’mon.”
Achieving tenure at Harvard so that you can delegate your admissions decisions to Fox & Friends and David Horowitz — another proud moment for America’s elites.
The “kids,” however, see through the bullshit:
Chelsea Manning, the former US soldier who leaked hundreds of thousands of state secrets and served seven years in military prison, abruptly terminated a phone call with the dean of the Harvard Kennedy school in an expression of her dismay at his decision to revoke her visiting fellowship in the face of severe pressure from the CIA.
Manning ended the conversation on Thursday as the dean, Douglas Elmendorf, tried to justify to her his decision to cancel the fellowship only a day after it had been announced. The dean had said he needed to talk to Manning “urgently” after CIA figures first raised their objection to Harvard offering the whistleblower a place among its 2017-18 visiting speaker program – raising the prospect that one of America’s most prestigious academic institutions had kowtowed to pressure from the intelligence services.
What explanation did he need to give other than the public statement? The answer is none. The only reason he called her was to assuage his own conscience- he did a shitty thing and wanted to feel better about himself, so he tried to call Chelsea up and tell her how awful he felt.
And she did the appropriate thing and hung up on his punk ass. He’ll pay no real world price for this- his job will not be jeopardized, he’ll still be treated like royalty on capus and in the academic world and the circles of power. But what he doesn’t get is to clear his conscience. Elmendorf knew he was doing a shitty thing to someone for shitty reasons- even worse when you consider Harvard is A-OK with Corey Lewandowski- so he doesn’t get to feel better about himself. He can live with what he has done.
I’m sure it’s nothing a couple scotches at the next Harvard fundraiser can’t cure.