By JON FAULKNER
Last week’s resignation of Harvard University President Claudine Gay was a watershed event in the history of America. Her fall symbolizes a low point in our nation’s academic aspirations and the implosion of the ivory tower.
How did this once revered institution of higher learning self-destruct?
Harvard may be at the top, but it is not alone in its abandonment of basic tenants of academia and the pursuit of truth. In March, 2023 Stanford’s Associate Dean for DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) Tirien Steinbach aided the disruption of a speaking event by U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Kyle Duncan.
Steinbach was disciplined and later resigned, but the event was cathartic for a nation facing this sudden reality: If these people represent our nation’s brightest and most promising leaders, our country is doomed.
Such censorship on campus is not new. For years, speakers, faculty and students have been shouted down, openly spurned, and canceled on many campuses. Steinbach was acting out a familiar DEI playbook.
So, what caused Gay’s resignation and why is this so profoundly significant for Americans?
Major media spun it as instigated by petty charges of plagiarism, abetted by her blown testimony to Congress, during which she couldn’t summon the courage to denounce Hamas as a terrorist organization bent on Israel’s destruction.
Insider elites point to the money machine, to Harvard’s $50 billion endowment and Gay’s diminished effectiveness as a money manager. The money trail is further complicated by an upset Congress that holds hearings—and the purse strings to vast grants doled out to Harvard annually.
Adding fuel to that fire was Alaska’s Sen. Dan Sullivan’s well-timed tour of his alma mater and Widener Library, which focused national attention on just how bad things had become at Harvard.
These were contributing factors, but the implosion of the ivory tower required more—a massive trigger that offends the core beliefs of an entire nation.
Before being named Harvard’s president, Gay was instrumental in the implementation of DEI for Harvard. More than likely, this work qualified her for the post. Speculation aside, it is Gay’s subsequent reactions to events that galvanized national attention on her ideology—not her skin color—and on DEI’s repudiation of core educational values.
Until recently, evidence of DEI’s underlying philosophy was sanitized by mainstream media. Gay’s debacle exposed it for what it is—a belief system that promotes race-based intolerance. It took time, but we now know the truth: DEI undermines much of what our nation stands ready to fight for.
How does an institution like Harvard actually implode under its own weight? The actions by the Board of Directors of the Harvard Corporation in response to allegations of plagiarism by Gay offers context.
According to billionaire Harvard “insider” Bill Ackman, when Gay was first accused of plagiarism, the BOD denied the claims as “demonstrably false” and then threatened the New York Post with “immense liability” if it ran the story.
This, of course, is a familiar tactic: Threaten people with retaliation when confronted with an ugly truth.
The board eventually got the story cancelled but secretly launched a private investigation of its own, outside the prescribed process to verify faculty plagiarism. When the board finally acknowledged Gay’s plagiarism, they characterized it as “unintentional” and created new language to describe it, like “duplicative language.”
When the truth emerged, Gay’s defenders railed against “the process.” Deception with words and their meaning is apparently ground that intellectual elites find fertile.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are popular concepts most Americans unconditionally embraced, which is precisely why they were selected. However, DEI hijacked the English language to cloak itself in these noble principles, like a wolf parading around in sheep’s clothing. DEI, we now know, is a political movement based on a divisive oppressor-oppressed world-view designed to weaken America from within.
Ackman offered this summary: “There is no commitment to free expression at Harvard other than for DEI-approved views. This has led to…Harvard’s having the lowest free speech ranking of 248 universities assessed by the Foundation of Individual Rights and Expression.”
A simple word like “equality” illustrates the deception and duplicity of the ivory tower—in whatever context one chooses. Americans have always—and still do—embrace equality to mean “equality of opportunity.” Americans reject non-level playing fields and work tirelessly to eradicate favoritism based on skin color, creed, religion, and gender. We are a multicultural, highly tolerant society which believes in individual initiative. This is the real reason Americans are incensed over our country’s abysmal performance with public education—historically, it has been the best means to level the field and promote equality.
DEI, on the other hand, believes equality means “equality of outcome” and this requires active force and intervention to achieve.
This is not a far-right conspiracy theory: it is what many of our county’s elite educators believe. It seeks nothing less than societal transformation—using government as the leverage to accomplish it. DEI is a suppression machine, an anti-freedom philosophy that thrives on creating victims in order to advance what is ultimately an economic equalization scheme. Until now, those who challenged it were labeled racists, branded with the equivalent of a “Scarlet Letter” designed to disgrace. Weapons of choice are modern and effective—mostly social media. Speech itself, if it can’t be censured or outlawed, is distorted by new words like “microagression”, designed for one purpose–intimidation.
Bill Ackman describes DEI’s “power pyramid” at the top of which DEI places the oppressors–all whites, Jews and Asians (who are now dubbed “white adjacent”)–and at the bottom are the oppressed—certain people of color, LGBTQ people, and women. It is only those they deem oppressors who are racist—no one else is capable of it. Such a divided world based on skin color alone holds that one is either racist, or anti-racist—which partly explains how DEI exploits race to alienate us from one another. One cannot merely be “not racist,” which means one must admit to being racist or adopt DEI’s model of resistance to all oppressors and work to dismantle anything producing unequal outcomes.
Mirroring a near-communist model, DEI seeks to erase all forms of meritocracy and differential outcomes, which are viewed as the basis of racism. Therefore, any educational or economic system, any admission policy which creates divergent outcomes among a population of different skin color is considered racist. All forms of grading or evaluation such as exams are racist. Capitalism, which has done more to lift humanity out of poverty, poor education, and ill-health than any rival economic system in history, is DEI’s ultimate evil.
The U.S. has become a highly polarized nation and DEI has thrived in this space, even contributed to it. That math and sciences are rejected by DEI as tools of the oppressor is due to these subjects having foundation in “empirical fact”—i.e. not subject to distortions or shading of truth. Could it be that our nation has lost sight of what it means to educate? Did Harvard abandon our youth in favor of becoming a political machine?
Underlying DEI’s ideology is a grand deception upon which their mission rests—that American slavery is justification to label all white people as oppressors, and to effectively punish them for crimes never committed.
A judgment rendered so blindly is unjust. Any verdict that treats as equally worthy of punishment the man who gave his life to free slaves, as compared to the man who owned them, is immoral. To foment and exploit division where none exists is wrong, and to condemn any race of people not for their own actions but for those of their ancestors and for their skin color defies logic and justice. No descendants of slave owners today are guilty by mere association, as it renders such persons guilty by virtue of no crime, no sin, and no direct trespass against another person. If such persons are deemed oppressors by ancestral association, we descend into Witch Trials (which, interestingly, some believe is happening).
Conversely, having dark skin, a less mainstream sexual identity or being born a woman does not create de-facto servitude or status as “oppressed.”
There is no moral defense of slavery. The hard truth is that men of every race have proven capable of unleashing unimaginable horrors against their neighbor—of their own race and others. American slavery is one such horror, but there are two vital lessons from our history that must never be forgotten. The first is that war unleashes misery and destruction beyond toll-indiscriminately. The Civil War cost 620,000 American lives, and yet 80 years later, during WWII, 6 million Jews died after being racially targeted for extermination.
And that prompts the second lesson–that what distinguishes a free and equal society from a monstrous and tyrannical one is a government of, by and for the people, secured by a system of justice that applies equally to all. Dred Scott was a heinous decision, but it was rendered by a court that would review and correct its decision, eventually leading to unprecedented human progress on every front—including equality and human rights–and stands today as a model of justice to the world. As imperfect as it is, it provides a system to resolve disputes peaceably, to evolve as a society, and to protect human liberties and inherent rights that ideally can never be taken from us.
The intellectual disconnect that spawned DEI is crumbling, aided by an effete and aloof Ivy League leadership. Harvard alumni are agitating for change. The University recently removed portions of its DEI policies from its website. U-Penn is re-writing their constitution. Congress seems poised to act.
Harvard professor and renowned author Steven Pinker wrote “A five-point plan to save Harvard from itself” which has gained nationwide traction. He prefaced his plan by stating that Harvard needs to “… embark on a long-term plan to undo the damage they have inflicted on themselves…”
Under the heading of “Free Speech,” Pinker writes “Deplorable speech should be refuted, not criminalized. Outlawing hate speech would only result in students calling anything they didn’t want to hear “hate speech.” He calls for institutional neutrality, arguing that Harvard should not act like a branch of the State Department, stating, “It is a forum for debate, not a protagonist in debates.”
Like most Americans, Pinker wants to teach our country to advance opinions by reason and not by force. He laments that our universities have become cloning factories, “…monopolized by extreme ideologies, such as the conspiracy theory that the world’s problems are the deliberate designs of a white heterosexual male colonialist oppressor class.”
Finally, Pinker calls for disempowering DEI, which he accuses of “enforcing a uniformity of opinion, a hierarchy of victim groups, and the exclusion of freethinkers.”
Like the ancient tower of Babel, the ivory tower has fallen. Now it’s time to re-build.
Jon Faulkner is the president of Alaska Gold Communications, Inc., the parent company of Must Read Alaska. He is a graduate of Harvard University.