You are probably almost as sick of hearing about Claudine Gay — as of this writing, still the president of Harvard University — as I am of writing about her. As I pointed out a year ago in this space, Harvard’s appointment of Gay, a black woman, was simply the next chapter in the university’s long-running pursuit of its racial spoils system. Gay’s entire academic career has been a testimony to the power of that enterprise. What a prize Harvard had in Claudine Gay: a black female who was an avid proponent of the whole “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” racket. Could there be any doubt that she was being groomed for the top slot?
When Gay joined the presidents of MIT and UPenn (also female, but unfashionably pale-faced) before the House Committee on Education, she, like her peers, beclowned herself. “Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate you university’s code of conduct?” That was the super-easy-to-answer question that Representative Elise Stefanik posed to the ladies. They tied themselves in knots over that one — it all depends on “context,” don’t you see — and Liz Magill, the (now former) president of Penn sealed her fate by producing a truly cringe-making video a day or two later in which she groveled, apologized and underscored her moral pygmyhood.
In short order, Magill was shown the door by Penn’s board. “One down, two to go!” was the chant among many critics. MIT seems to have successfully circled the wagons around its president Sally Kornbluth. But Claudine Gay was more or less in the position of someone who gets stopped for speeding and then is discovered to have been driving on an expired license.
First, there were the allegations of plagiarism. The charges began in a halting, tentative fashion. Harvard tried to circle its wagons, too, insisting that it was merely a matter of “duplicative language” (I hope they give the genius who dreamed up that euphemism a PhD). But the jackals were on the case now, and it was soon revealed that, paltry though Gay’s publication history was, it was shot through with gobbets of unacknowledged borrowings.
Then came Christopher Brunet and Francis Menton, who showed that Gay was not simply guilty of plagiarism, but of data falsification to boot. There are wheels with wheels to this story, perhaps the choicest being Harvard’s heavy-handed attempt to silence the New York Post, which had begun investigating the charges of plagiarism back in October. “Then it emerged,” Menton explains, “that… the Post had sent [the allegations] to Harvard for confirmation — only to get in return a threatening letter from the Clare Locke law firm (the same firm that had recovered over $700 million from Fox in the Dominion Voting case) asserting that the accusations of plagiarism were ‘demonstrably false.’” That was right before the Washington Free Beacon revealed another cache of “duplicative language” — some forty instances, “almost four,” Menton notes, “for each of Ms. Gay’s eleven academic articles.”
Many of my friends are demanding that Claudine Gay be given the push. Probably, she will eventually have to go. The billionaire Harvard donor — make that “former Harvard donor” — Bill Ackman recently tweeted that he had heard that the Harvard Corporation had asked for Gay’s resignation but “she has refused.” Delicious if true. My own feeling is that the longer Gay stays at Harvard, the more she calls attention to the Hindenburg-like flatulence of that morally and intellectually bankrupt institution. Claudine Gay is bad for Harvard, but Harvard is bad for the country, so her continued presence is a net positive.
That said, I do think that the university ought to consider a small but telling change in its messaging. For decades now, Tom Lehrer’s “Fight Fiercely, Harvard” has been an unofficial school song, perfect in its effete daintiness.
Fight fiercely, Harvard
Fight, fight, fight!
Demonstrate to them our skill
Albeit they possess the might
Nonetheless we have the will
How we shall celebrate our victory
We shall invite the whole team up for tea
Hurl that spheroid down the field, and
Fight, fight, fight!
Leave to Tom Lehrer to have also penned the perfect song for the new Harvard. It’s called “Lobachevsky” (after the famous mathematician) and I hereby thank a good friend for bringing this supremely pertinent work of genius to my attention.
In one word he told me secret of success in mathematics:
Let no one else’s work evade your eyes
Remember why the good Lord made your eyes
So don’t shade your eyes
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize
Only be sure always to call it please “research”
And ever since I meet this man
My life is not the same
And Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name…
You can listen to the whole delicious song, sung by the master, here.