The New Criterion is the latest publication to weigh in on Harvard’s “regurgitation” (very good way to put it) of Larry Summers.
The piece begins:
“Here’s the message flashed to the world by the Harvard Corporation, that tiny politically correct squad that sits upon a $26 billion endowment and controls Harvard University: no one with courage or in the habit of independent judgment need apply to be president. When Harvard regurgitated Larry Summers, its embattled president, last month, it was front-page news, and rightly so. Harvard’s action let us all know that the penalty for challenging the PC establishment was the oubliette. We’ve had occasion to mention Mr. Summers in this space before. There was his laudable calling to task of the preposterous Cornel West, the political sermonizer and hip-hop artiste masquerading as a political philosopher, followed instantly by Summers’s abject apology when the black lobby at his university rose up to swat him for his impertinence in daring to criticize a brother. Then there was Summers’s girl trouble last year, when he had the temerity to suggest that one possible explanation for the relative paucity of women in the higher reaches of science might-might, mind you-have to do with biological differences between men and women. Oh, the wailing and gnashing of teeth that statement provoked! One MIT prof on the distaff side had to leave the room lest she faint, poor dear. And how Mr. Summers abased himself after his inadvertent utterance of that home truth! That was the story of Larry Summers: good instincts undergirded by a habit of capitulation and abasement.”
I’d like to take issue with one point: the idea that “no one with courage” need apply for the presidency of Harvard. This implies that serial-apologizer Lawrence Summers, despite the capitulation and self-abasement, somehow had courage-he didn’t. As Peter Berkowitz put it, his problem was that he didn’t take his own side in a fight. A courageous man who fought back might have made a difference.