My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam. I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Hanson on College Presidents...

I can only give you a small excerpt, but please read the whole thing.
At Harvard University, beleaguered President Lawrence Summers challenged notions of "diversity" and paid a steep price. He suggested--off the record, at a conference of the National Bureau of Economic Research--that factors other than institutional prejudice and cultural pressure might help explain the relative dearth of women faculty in the hard sciences at Harvard and other elite universities. If the intent of that mildly provocative, off-the-cuff exegesis was to jumpstart debate among serious thinkers, it proved a big mistake. Within seconds, one tough-minded feminist was reduced to bouts of nausea and swooning, and within hours many were calling for Mr. Summers to apologize, if not resign.

As the country soon learned, Mr. Summers had touched the live wire of the contemporary campus by hinting that inequality of result might be due to something other than invidious and institutional discrimination. Mr. Summers fell back limp from that high-voltage jolt; only massive and repeated doses of self-abasement could resuscitate him. Accordingly, he quickly renounced and denounced his own musings, promising task forces, "independent listeners," investigations, committees and ample largesse (including $50 million from Harvard's own bulging coffers) to be distributed to the purported victims of his insensitivity--who are in fact some of the most educated, privileged and upscale women on the planet.

But to save Mr. Summers's job it will probably cost much more than his pledge of $5 million a year for a decade. His special task force already has urged the appointment of a senior "vice provost for diversity and faculty development," along with improved recruitment and the "mentoring" of junior faculty members. According to a communiqué from his office, the members of his task force "propose a series of reforms and enhancements to the way women pursuing science and engineering are treated at every point along the 'pipeline,' from undergraduates, to graduate students, to post-doctoral fellows, to the faculty ranks." And lest we think $50 million is too much, Mr. Summers's statement also added that it is merely a down payment: "There is no doubt that these initiatives will require significant additional expenditures. But we want to make clear at the outset that this is a serious effort calling for a serious commitment of resources."

Somehow the former secretary of the Treasury, who once helped manage the Byzantine world of global commerce, failed to realize that the entire campus industry of mandated retroactive compensation--targeted fellowships, release time (i.e., excusing teachers from teaching), ideological curricula, favorable hiring and promotion considerations, tenure decisions based on criteria other than merit, and other forms of recompense that Mr. Summers in fact scrambled to grant--would be imperiled by a few politically incorrect syllables. Perhaps Mr. Summers naively thought that Harvard was about free speech and unfettered discourse--its motto, after all, is Veritas, "Truth." In any event, he quickly recovered, winning back through penance, self-censorship, and spoils a job that he had almost forfeited in a passing moment of intellectual curiosity.