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.
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.
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.