You can’t rally others to your banner if you don’t rally yourself to it.
Peter Berkowitz argues that former Harvard president Larry Summers’ mistake was that he “wouldn’t take his own side in a quarrel.”
Instead of insisting that he had raised an important question-that women may be under-represented in the more arcane regions of math and science because aptitude is not distributed exactly the same between men and women-Summers, you’ll recall, embarked on a career of serial apologies.
“It must be emphasized that Summers had no good reason, none whatsoever, for apologizing, and that those of his advisers and members of the Corporation–the small body of seven movers and shakers who run Harvard and who alone have power to hire and fire the university president–who counseled him to do so ill-served him and the university over which he presides. Apologies are appropriate when you have said something inconsiderate, vulgar, or ignorant. Summers’s remark was none of these.”
Not only was Summers’s remark not inconsiderate, vulgar, or ignorant, it brought up a mystifying subject that should be openly discussed. As Berkowitz writes:
“In 2005, almost 40 years after Harvard College began admitting women, after women have risen to head several Ivy League universities, to lead major corporations, to serve as governors and as secretary of state, understanding why women continue to be represented less well in some fields than others, and generally underrepresented at the top of many fields, is a complicated project. In undertaking it, any sensible person would inquire, as Summers did, into the actual choices women make, the sexes’ natural aptitudes and socialized differences, and overt discrimination. To denounce the very outlining of the essential features of such an inquiry is anti-intellectual in the extreme. Alas, Summers’s decision to acquiesce in the denunciation and to serve up one apology after another not only legitimated but also emboldened the forces of darkness and reaction. And to earmark $50 million (as Summers subsequently did) for the creation of two more task forces to nurture and promote women at Harvard in advance of the very inquiry Summers himself insisted was necessary to determine the roots of the problem rewards intellectual thuggery and provides fabulous incentives for further intimidation of freedom of speech and thought on campus.”