[Make sure to read Joseph Klein’s contributions in Jamie Glazov’s new book: Barack Obama’s True Legacy: How He Transformed America.]
After weeks of stubbornly refusing to see the handwriting on the wall, Claudine Gay finally resigned under pressure as Harvard’s president – a lofty office that she did not deserve in the first place. Dr. Gay managed to survive the criticism of her heartless congressional testimony last December, during which she tried to contextualize calls for the genocide of Jews in answering questions whether such calls violate Harvard’s code of conduct. But it was the mounting evidence that Dr. Gay was a serial plagiarist that ultimately dethroned her.
Claudine Gay herself, and her race hustling supporters, have claimed that racism was behind the pressure for her to step down as Harvard’s president. As the first black female to be appointed as Harvard’s president, Dr. Gay played the victim card to explain her fall from grace. She felt entitled to her presidential position as a symbol of what she believes female blacks are owed to overcome their supposed past invisibility in the higher ranks of colleges and universities. Never mind that other black women have risen to the top of their prestigious institutions of higher learning based on their merit, not because of their gender and skin color.
For example, Ruth J. Simmons was far ahead of Claudine Gay as the first woman and first African American president of an Ivy League university. She served as Brown University’s 18th president from 2001 to 2012. This followed her stint, which had started in 1995, as the president of Smith College, a Seven Sisters school and the largest women’s college in the United States. Time Magazine named her as America’s best college president in 2001.
Ruth Simmons earned her opportunity to ascend the academic ladder to the presidency of her Ivy League university. Claudine Gay, on the other hand, rode the wave of the diversity, equity, and inclusiveness (DEI) movement to the presidency of Harvard and is now casting herself as a social justice martyr for the DEI cause.
Following up on her self-pitying resignation announcement, Claudine Gay authored a shameless op ed column in the New York Times. Gay wrote that “The campaign against me was about more than one university and one leader. This was merely a single skirmish in a broader war to unravel public faith in pillars of American society.”
After belatedly admitting that she made some mistakes in the aftermath of Hamas’s October 7th attack against Israel, Dr. Gay reverted to playing the victim of systemic racism.
“I make an ideal canvas for projecting every anxiety about the generational and demographic changes unfolding on American campuses: a Black woman selected to lead a storied institution,” Gay declared.
To the contrary. Dr. Gay makes “an ideal canvas” for portraying the DEI victim mentality.
For example, Gay wrote that “at a congressional hearing last month, I fell into a well-laid trap.”
Nobody set a trap for Dr. Gay at the congressional hearing. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik (R-N.Y.) asked her a very simple softball question: “At Harvard, does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard’s rules of bullying and harassment?” Instead of showing moral clarity on an issue that did not involve DEI protection for favored identity groups that do not include Jews, Dr. Gay responded: “It can be, depending on the context.”
When Rep. Stefanik gave Dr. Gay another chance to answer with an emphatic yes whether “calling for the genocide of Jews violates Harvard code of conduct,” Dr. Gay responded: “Again, it depends on the context.”
“It does not depend on the context. The answer is yes and this is why you should resign,” Rep. Stefanik retorted.
It is Claudine Gay’s own callous indifference to the suffering of minorities who are not on the social justice warriors’ DEI list of oppressed groups that trapped Dr. Gay and showed who she really is at her core. It took her weeks to resign, and she only did so after the multiple instances of her alleged plagiarism came to light.
Two other university presidents who testified at the congressional hearing gave similar answers as Dr. Gay about the handling of calls on campus for the genocide of Jews. Liz Magill of the University of Pennsylvania and Sally Kornbluth of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – both of whom are white – likewise faced demands for their resignations even without also facing plagiarism allegations. The racism charge that Gay and her supporters have used to castigate the pressure for her to resign as Harvard’s president is a complete red herring.
It took only four days after the congressional hearing for Liz Magill to heed the calls for her to resign. Sally Kornbluth, who is Jewish herself, has not resigned yet but has at least shown by her actions, before and after Hamas’s October 7th genocidal attack, that she takes the issue of anti-Semitism on campus very seriously.
Dr. Gay also used her New York Times op ed column to defend her “scholarship” against what she charged were “recycled tired racial stereotypes about Black talent and temperament” that “pushed a false narrative of indifference and incompetence.”
Dr. Gay’s victim mentality is showing up again. She is hiding behind “recycled tired” claims of racism to escape accountability for her own grievous acts of plagiarism – not once or twice but reportedly as many as forty times.
Dr. Gay did offer to retroactively make changes to some of her prior writings by adding several source attributions, but she failed to take full personal responsibility for her academic transgressions.
Dr. Carol Swain, a renowned black scholar who was formerly a political science professor at Vanderbilt University, complained to Harvard about Dr. Gay’s plagiarism but was not taken seriously, at least at first. Dr. Swain accused Gay of lifting passages without attribution from a book Swain published in 1993 entitled “Black Faces, Black Interests: The Representation of African Americans in Congress,” and from an article she published in 1997 entitled “Women and Blacks in Congress: 1870-1996.”
Dr. Swain provided some advice to Harvard on social media, including the following in her December 21st post:
“Stop listening to the apologists for plagiarism.”
“Stop listening to the racist mob of whites and blacks who cry racism while being among the worst offenders.”
“Hire the best man or woman who can steer the university back towards sanity. Appeasing the Marxist identity politics mob should not be a consideration. The person for the job might be a middle to older age white Jewish man who believes in classical liberalism.”
Dr. Gay submitted works containing language taken from sources without any attribution. She was a repeat offender. But Harvard tried at first to give Gay cover by trivializing her infractions. That strategy ultimately did not work, as allegations against her of plagiarism from the works of scholars like Dr. Swain piled up and it became clear that she had to step down from Harvard’s presidency. But Dr. Gay remains on the Harvard faculty, making an outrageous annual salary of $900,000.
Unlike what happened to Dr. Gay, who is smiling all the way to the bank, Harvard students who are found to have committed multiple acts of plagiarism are often suspended for an academic year.
The Harvard Guide to Using Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism, which was prepared as a guide for students, begins with this sentence: “When you write papers in college, your work is held to the same standards of citation as the work of your professors.” The guide noted that failing to cite sources or citing them inadequately is “plagiarizing, which is taken extremely seriously at Harvard.” It makes no difference whether this is done intentionally or by accident.
Students are warned that submitting work “without clear attribution to its sources will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including requirement to withdraw from the College.”
One standard for Dr. Gay and another standard for the suspended Harvard students.
Dr. Gay concluded her New York Times op ed column by stating that “Universities must remain independent venues where courage and reason unite to advance truth, no matter what forces set against them.” Too bad that Harvard and Dr. Gay herself have not followed this advice.
Harvard ranks dead last in The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression’s and College Pulse’s fourth annual College Free Speech Rankings of the free speech cultures of 248 of America’s largest and most prestigious campuses. Indeed, Harvard was the only school that received an “Abysmal” rating.
Dr. Gay had a chance to show some courage in the pursuit of truth even before she became Harvard’s president. But she failed to stand up for free speech and reasoned debate against a mob of students upset in 2021 with a Harvard biology lecturer’s scientifically based belief that ran counter to certain tenets of transgender ideology.
When Gay was serving as the Dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences she stood silently by as students called Carole Hooven, a lecturer in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, transphobic. Hooven’s sin in the eyes of her harsh detractors was stating on Fox News that there are only two biological sexes – male and female. The students bullied Ms. Hooven for contradicting their politically correct narrative with her scientifically reasoned conclusions.
The director of the department’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force and a graduate student, Laura Simone Lewis, posted what she thought of Carole Hooven’s expression of her views. She wrote that “this dangerous language perpetuates a system of discrimination against non-cis people within the med system. It directly opposes our Task Force work that aims to create a safe space for scholars of ALL gender identities and sexes.”
Ms. Hooven could not withstand the ostracism she experienced on campus as a result of her statement that biological sex is binary and ultimately felt compelled to resign.
Claudine Gay did not use her position as then-Dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences to speak out strongly against the attempts to stifle Ms. Hooven’s freedom of expression. But as president of Harvard amid the pro-Hamas protests calling for the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel, Gay declared that Harvard “embraces a commitment to free expression” that “extends even to views that many of us find objectionable, even outrageous. We do not punish or sanction people for expressing such views.”
Carole Hooven would beg to differ. The hypocrisy is astounding.
In the end, Claudine Gay was the author of her own downfall. DEI could not save her presidency.
Belonging to two “oppressed” identity groups, Dr. Gay felt entitled to a promotion to Harvard’s presidency as a form of reparations for the intersectional “oppression” supposedly suffered by black females like her.
Dr. Gay felt entitled, as an avid promoter of DEI, to decide what identity groups and ideas deserved special protection and which did not. Palestinians and their sympathizers are within the protected class. Jewish supporters of Israel are not.
Dr. Gay felt entitled to special insulation from accountability for her pattern of plagiarism because of the “oppressed” groups she belongs to who can do no wrong against the “oppressor” establishment.
And when the chickens finally came home to roost and a chink appeared in Claudine Gay’s DEI armor, she blamed racism of course.