Janel George has done rather well for herself. She’s an associate professor of law at Georgetown University School of Law, a plum position, well-paid and not too taxing. Janel George feels keenly, as a member of a “marginalized community,” the need to be constantly on the qui vive against White Supremacy. It is White Supremacy which she believes explains the downfall of Claudine Gay, the former president of Harvard, who resigned after being exposed as a serial plagiarist. Professor George has just delivered herself of a splenetic diatribe against that hydra-headed monster that not only, she thinks, pulled Gay down from her well-deserved presidential pedestal by attacking her “character” — plagiarism had nothing to do with it — but lies in wait for any talented black person whose mere existence threatens white people’s sense of superiority.
More of her sour diatribe can be found here: “Miseducation and the Project of Panic, Propaganda and Power,” by Janel George, Ms. Magazine, January 30, 2024:
As a Black woman academic, it has been painful to witness the attacks on the character of Claudine Gay—Harvard University’s former president and its first Black leader—and their after-effects. However, as a scholar of education, race and the law, these attacks also ring familiar. The project of white supremacy is to instill panic, to distort history and facts, to erase the contributions of Black and other minoritized people.
White supremacy appeals to the basest parts of us by stoking our fears, stereotypes and biases. It relies on disregard for the truth. It relies on resistance to recognizing the humanity of Black and other minoritized people. It appeals to the worst in America. And I believe it will take the best of America to affirmatively defeat it.
The current so-called “culture wars” facilitated by the likes of Christopher Rufo and Edward Blum—fueled by a now-defunct Trump executive order attacking federal diversity, equity and inclusion efforts—are being waged on multiple fronts, from classrooms to libraries to institutions of higher learning.
The attack on Claudine Gay’s intellectual integrity is just the latest effort of this project, which has included attacks on public education, a fabricated moral panic about critical race theory (CRT) as well as bans on books by historically marginalized writers. These are all threads of the same project.
For god’s sake, Prof. George, Claudine Gay had no “intellectual integrity.” She was a serial plagiarist, having copied without attribution at least forty passages — some of them paragraphs long — from others. Her plagiarism began with her doctoral dissertation and examples can be found in almost every one of her slender list of publications. One of her victims, and her sternest critic, was a black professor, Carol Swain, who was the first person to call for the immediate sacking of Gay — “fire Gay posthaste” — in order to steer Harvard, she said, “back towards sanity.”
Anti-Blackness is at the root of this agenda, but Black Americans are not the only ones in its crosshairs. This project has fueled the momentum for the Supreme Court to strip women of bodily autonomy and to dismantle affirmative-action in higher education, which will undoubtedly harm Asian American students who were used as convenient foils to wage the attack, alongside other minoritized students. This project co-opts the language of the civil rights movement’s martyrs, arguing that remedying past racial harm is racist, and espousing a colorblind Constitution that fails to contextualize the history and purpose behind the Reconstruction Amendments, which Justice Jackson has recognized in Supreme Court debates. All the while, these efforts facilitate white supremacy….
Today’s racial retrenchment relies upon miseducation and is deploying it beyond the classroom. Today, miseducation is taking place in the media, from social media to the left-wing media, and is part of a coordinated and organized conservative campaign….
So according to Janel George, the “left-wing media” is “part of…an organized conservative campaign.”
Just as proponents of anti-CRT legislation are not concerned about what CRT actually is or whether it is being taught in schools, critics of Gay were not concerned with the findings of the Harvard Corporation’s investigation concluding that she had not engaged in any research misconduct or statements of those she was accused of incorrectly quoting, who also asserted she did nothing wrong. Gay’s critics disregarded her numerous credentials and experience, concluding that her Black skin and gender rendered her “unqualified” or a “diversity hire”—all code for her being undeserving of the position because of her Blackness—and fabricated their own narrative of her to fit racial tropes….
The Harvard Corporation, shamefully, cleared Claudine Gay of plagiarism before it had even investigated whether her academic work was copied, and everyone — but apparently not Janel George — knows that. Gay was a constant and indefatigable plagiarist, beginning with passages lifted from others in her doctoral dissertation, and she continued that practice in practically all of her thin list of publications. Gay had “numerous credentials”? What can George be thinking of?
At its heart, the project of white supremacy relies upon our complicity. By naming it, speaking out against it, and resisting it, as well as teaching and learning about the tactics used to sustain it—we collectively draw upon the best of us to defeat it.
Don’t be fooled by talk of racial progress in this hopelessly racist country. Janel George wants us to know that America is only marginally better for black people now than it was in the days of slavery. White Supremacists are everywhere. If they could drive as distinguished a scholar as Claudine Gay from her office, what hope is there for the rest of us? Do not be complicit in “the project of white supremacy.” Talk, write, fight, and “call upon the best of us” to defeat the sinister carriers of white supremacy. Who are the “best of us”? Isn’t it clear whom Janel George has in mind?