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The most recent installment of Politically Correct mind control comes from Harvard University itself, the world capital of Political Correctness and at least a major metropolis of mind control.

It concerns no less a victim than the president of Harvard himself, Lawrence Summers, a veteran of the Clinton administration, who recently uttered some remarks about women that made the mind controllers sick at their stomachs.

A tip of the hat to President Summers.

What exactly he said is not clear since there seems to be no transcript or record of it, but in general he unbosomed the heresy that maybe human beings (in this case, women) are not merely blank slates on which social engineers can scribble whatever fictions they please.

As the New York Times described what he is supposed to have said (and does not deny saying):

“Dr. Summers cited research showing that more high school boys than girls tend to score at very high and very low levels on standardized math tests, and that it was important to consider the possibility that such differences may stem from biological differences between the sexes.”[Harvard Chief Defends His Talk on Women , By Sam Dillon, January 18, 2005]

He was discussing the general reason why there are so many more male scientists than female ones, and one such reason was possible biologically based sex differences.

On the scale of Political Incorrectness, this is not much more than a misdemeanor.

But it’s Harvard, you see, and up there they’re just not used to hearing opinions they don’t like.

To date, Mr. Summers has had to apologize at least three times.

“I felt I was going to be sick,” trembled one female scientist in the audience, M.I.T. biology professor Nancy Hopkins, who listened to part of the speech. As the Washington Post noted, “she walked out in what she described as a physical sense of disgust.” [Harvard Chief's Comments on Women Assailed, by Michael Dobbs, January 14, 2005]

“My heart was pounding and my breath was shallow,” she panted to the Post. “I was extremely upset.”

Dr. Hopkins’ breath is perhaps not the only thing about her that’s shallow.

But she wasn’t the only one, and for the last week or so, Mr. Summers has enjoyed all the vitriol that modern totalitarianism can pour upon him.

To be sure, he has had his defenders, including several women scientists, who have suggested that there really may be the kind of innate biological differences between the sexes that he postulated.

But, as in tyranny’s more prosperous days under Stalin and Mao Tse Tung, truth is no defense. Even after his third apology, one Thought Patroller, the female head of the Harvard chemistry department, sniffed that it just didn’t go far enough. Of course it never does.

“The problem is that you can’t take it back,” she sighed.

What is remarkable about the hate fest directed at Mr. Summers is not that he was necessarily right (though there’s strong evidence that innate differences between the sexes account for differing mathematical aptitudes as well as many other differences) nor even that a distinguished academic official has to grovel in multiple apologies for his innocuous comments.

What is remarkable is why those who objected to what he said did so at all.

They got sick at their stomachs because they can’t stand the idea that innate or “biologically” grounded differences account for anything.

What Mr. Summers said contradicted the blank slate model of humanity that has been enthroned in academic dogma for nearly a century.

And one reason denying that human beings are blank slates is such a dreadful sin and makes some people physically sick is that it ultimately threatens their careers, their whole world-view, and indeed their power.

The blank slate ideology, increasingly discarded by scientists, asserts that there are no constants in human nature, that in fact there is no such thing as human nature at all, and it implies that whoever or whatever controls the “environment”—the social or cultural environment in which a child grows up—controls the man (or woman) that eventually emerges.

It’s an idea that underlies both communism and much of modern liberalism.

What Mr. Summers’ remarks imply is that you can’t reconstruct human beings, that there’s something natural—meaning genes—in human nature that survives even totalitarian manipulation and social engineering.

So far from making people sick at their stomachs, the possibility that human beings possess a nature beyond the capacity of political power to twist as it wants ought to make us rejoice.

But if that’s true, then the ideologies rooted in the blank slate dogma are in serious trouble, and so are those whose careers are based on such ideologies.

That very thought is enough to make some people sick, and it’s also enough, if you challenge the dogma, to cause a few problems for your own career—even when you’re the president of Harvard.

• Category: Science • Tags: Feminism, Larry Summers 
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One of the reasons Osama bin Laden is said to hate the United States is that ever since the Gulf War of 1991, we have maintained military bases in his home country of Saudi Arabia. The bases are there to protect the Saudis against aggressors like Iraq, but the presence of infidels on the same soil that the Prophet once trod apparently really burns in Osama’s bonnet. Yet there are other reasons why Muslims, by no means as cracked as bin Laden, might not want Americans in their country.

One is that these days an American military presence means women soldiers, and women soldiers threaten the traditional role of women in Saudi society. Because of that culture clash and the destabilization it could cause, the Defense Department enforces a rule on American servicewomen stationed in Saudi Arabia: Off the base, they have to wear the same head-to-toe gown, called an abaya that Saudi women wear. They can’t drive cars, must sit in the back seat of vehicles and must be escorted by a man at all times. It’s not quite up to Taliban standards, but it’s close enough to give most Western women the willies.

Now, the Washington Post reports glowingly, one woman is challenging the Pentagon rule with a lawsuit claiming it violates her constitutional rights.[read original filing in PDF here.] Air Force Lt. Col. Martha McSally complains that the Pentagon’s rule “abandons our American values that we all raised our right hand to die for.”

Indeed, she’s gained a good deal of support, from conservatives like Sen. Bob Smith of New Hampshire to Eleanor Smeal of the Feminist Majority Foundation. Miss Smeal simply denounces the Pentagon policy as “gross discrimination,” while Mr. Smith explains that “what makes this particularly bizarre is that we are waging a war in Afghanistan to remove those abayas, and the very soldiers who are conducting that war have to cover up.” [The Air Force Flier In the Ointment, Washington Post, Jan 7, 2002 ]

Actually, somebody should explain to Mr. Smith that the reason we’re fighting a war in Afghanistan has absolutely nothing to do with abolishing women’s dress codes; the war has to do with the late unpleasantness of Sept. 11. As for Col. McSally, what “American values” did she think she was swearing to die for when she signed up?

The reasons for the rule aren’t really hard to find. Its purpose is to avoid offending deeply held Saudi religious and social customs that most Saudis believe are ordained by God. Americans, men or women, military or civilian, are guests in Saudi Arabia, and one rule of being a guest is that you respect the practices your host demands. The Constitution, “human rights,” and “American values” have little to do with it. It’s called common courtesy.

How would Sen. Smith and the other Republican lawmakers supporting abolition of the Pentagon rule like it if women from primitive Polynesian cultures showed up here wearing the attire, such as it is, customary in their societies? The ladies would find themselves in the slammer for indecent exposure, and Mr. Smith would be the first to turn the key on them. The cliché that embalms this particular American value in rhetorical amber is that when in Rome, you do as the Romans do. If you can’t or won’t — well, you really don’t have to go to Rome at all, do you?

Col. McSally may have had to go to Saudi Arabia, but she didn’t have to join the Air Force in the first place. Maybe that’s yet another reason we shouldn’t have women in the military anyway. If the United States is going to insist on being the global policeman and on using women soldiers to do it, we can expect to make ourselves very unwelcome in a lot more non-Western cultures in the future.

What is particularly funny about Col. McSally’s crusade is that it’s really just part of the perennial self-appointed U.S. mission to make the world safe for American parochialism. Usually that mission consists in demanding hotels like Holiday Inn and food like what you get at Burger King, but the equivalent of the Whopper in political ideology is the very kind of provincial feminism straight from the boonies of Manhattan that Col. McSally is peddling.

When the Pentagon rule is scrapped, women like the Thoroughly Modern Col. McSally can waltz around downtown Mecca and Riyadh in their bikinis and tank-tops all they want. When they do, they may find themselves harassed, attacked and even murdered in the streets by Thoroughly Medieval Muslims, and sooner or later they and their allies back home will whine that American soldiers just aren’t doing enough to protect the “American values” they represent.

It’s clear enough why many Arabs besides Osama bin Laden don’t want American troops in Saudi Arabia; it’s only Americans like Col. McSally who can’t understand it.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Feminism 
Sam Francis
About Sam Francis

Dr. Samuel T. Francis (1947-2005) was a leading paleoconservative columnist and intellectual theorist, serving as an adviser to the presidential campaigns of Patrick Buchanan and as an editorial writer, columnist, and editor at The Washington Times. He received the Distinguished Writing Award for Editorial Writing of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) in both 1989 and 1990, while being a finalist for the National Journalism Award (Walker Stone Prize) for Editorial Writing of the Scripps Howard Foundation those same years. His undergraduate education was at Johns Hopkins and he later earned his Ph.D. in modern history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

His books include The Soviet Strategy of Terror(1981, rev.1985), Power and History: The Political Thought of James Burnham (1984); Beautiful Losers: Essays on the Failure of American Conservatism (1993); Revolution from the Middle: Essays and Articles from Chronicles, 1989–1996 (1997); and Thinkers of Our Time: James Burnham (1999). His published articles or reviews appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, National Review, The Spectator (London), The New American, The Occidental Quarterly, and Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, of which he was political editor and for which he wrote a monthly column, “Principalities and Powers.”