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Larry Summers

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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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At Harvard University, the New Year blasted off with a little lesson in the Afro-racist version of what the Nazis used to call Gleichschaltung—literally, disciplining of the opposition, but more accurately translated as kicking in the teeth of anyone who doesn’t do and say what you tell him to do and say. Indeed, the year not only started with the lesson but promises to continue with it well into the future.

Last October, Harvard’s new president, Larry Summers (send him mail), formerly President Clinton’s Secretary of the Treasury, had a little chat with black Harvard professor Cornel West. Professor West, you must understand, is a Big Name, a “University Professor” who has published lots of books and is well known outside his academic field, which in his case is what these days is called “Afro-American Studies.”

The chat apparently was not friendly. Mr. Summers criticized Mr. West for spending too much time away from his teaching duties—serving as a political adviser to the presidential campaigns of Sen. Bill Bradley and more recently of the Rev. Al Sharpton—and for cutting his own record of rap music. (Listen to samples here.) He also pointed out that Mr. West’s courses display what is politely called “grade inflation”—that is, the prof hands out A’s like penny candy, rendering his courses popular with lazy undergraduates but not very demanding intellectually.

Any other professor would have taken a talk like this from the president of his university as a warning to straighten up or ship out, and most academics would have straightened.

But Mr. West is black and Mr. Summers is white, and this is Harvard, so that’s not what happened. Instead, Mr. West promptly alerted the Afro-bigot squad that racism was being committed. Soon the Rev. Jesse Jackson was preaching that he was “disturbed” at President Summers’ apparent lack of enthusiasm for affirmative action, the Rev. Sharpton himself rumbled that he just might sue Harvard for interfering with his plans to become president, and before you could spell Kwanzaa, an entire platoon of Afro-racists was ranting and raving about President Summers, Harvard itself, white society, America and all the rest of the blather.

Buttressed by support from the Afro-American Studies Department’s chairman, Henry Louis Gates, who is more or less a real scholar, and someone who calls himself Kwame Appiah, a philosophy professor, Mr. West was soon gasping that he just might leave Harvard and go to a real racial utopia like Princeton. “When you’re disrespected like that,” Mr. West fumed about his talk with Mr. Summers, “you don’t stay at a place.”

Well, maybe he was beginning to catch the drift of what Mr. Summers had been hinting at all along, but this—again—is Harvard, and that’s not how things work.

By the beginning of the new year, Mr. Summers had confessed his sins in a note to the Harvard Crimson, affirmed his pride in Harvard’s “diversity,” his commitment to affirmative action, his ambition to make Harvard even more “diverse” and his deep regrets over any misunderstanding Mr. West might have had. “Diversity contributes to educational excellence,” Mr. Summers recited. And of course, he vowed he wants to keep the famous Afro-American Studies Department and everybody in it at Harvard.

But that wasn’t enough for the persecuted Mr. West, who promptly responded that he had been “attacked and insulted” by Mr. Summers and might just leave Harvard anyway. “The one thing I do not tolerate is disrespect, being dishonored and being devalued,” the black windbag blustered. “As much as I forgive, I will not forget.”

Mr. West denies that Mr. Summers’ original criticisms of his academic performance were true, but whether they were or not, at this point Mr. Summers would be perfectly justified in firing Mr. West and closing down the whole department. Scholarship, the real kind rather than the fake version to which “diversity” contributes so much, would improve dramatically, as would the public understanding of who—the duly appointed president or a gaggle of academic frauds who got their jobs through affirmative action—really runs the university and who determines the standards of the education it offers.

But, yet once more, this is Harvard, and that’s not the way it works. The way it works at Harvard is what happened soon after Mr. Summers published his cowardly letter and Mr. West brayed forth his crudities. Harvard’s provost told a group of professors the university was placing their proposal for a Latino Studies Department “on the front burner,” after Mr. Summers had rejected the idea twice. “Several of the Latino professors last week said they were thinking about leaving Harvard because of the president’s lack of support.”

If Mr. Summers and other whites don’t understand the way it works at Harvard, you can bet the non-whites do.

• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Blacks, Larry Summers 
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.”