JOHN DERBYSHIRE: Give 'Em An Inch, They Take A (Harvard) Yard
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[Adapted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively on]

Can I call ’em, or what? Yes, folks: You heard it here first.

On November 10th, seven weeks ago, I wrote:

Reading the news about our universities taking the side of Hamas after October 7th, I was a bit surprised to see that the President of Harvard University is a black woman.

I really shouldn’t have been. Black women zoomed to the top of the status ranks when I wasn’t paying attention. Educated black women are in terrific demand; every organization wants one. President of Harvard? Oh, definitely—got to be a black woman.

In February 2020, on the campaign trail, Joe Biden promised that if, as President, he got the opportunity to nominate a Supreme Court justice, he would nominate a black woman. He accordingly did so.

I don’t want to be a wet blanket, but … isn’t there an issue of supply and demand here? As the demand for black women in prestigious positions soars heavenwards, might the supply run out? I’m only asking.

The particular black woman I was referring to is Claudine Gay [Email her], the President of Harvard University. Well, President Gay has been in the news again this past few days on account of some answers she gave when questioned at a December 5th congressional hearing held by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

President Gay was one of three university presidents being questioned about campus antisemitism. The other two, presidents of M.I.T. and the University of Pennsylvania, were also gyno-Americans, although both are white. The issue of campus antisemitism had come to the attention of Congress because of demonstrations against Israel following the October 7th Hamas attack.

The question that got President Gay in trouble was: Would calling for the genocide of Jews violate her university’s code of conduct? President Gay replied, ”It is at odds with the values of Harvard” [3 Contentious Exchanges at the College Antisemitism Hearing, New York Times, December 6, 2023].

When the congresscritter pressed her for a direct answer, President Gay just descended into waffle—”We embrace a commitment to free expression, and give a wide berth to free expression even of views that are objectionable, outrageous and offensive … blah di blah di blah di blah.”

That generated much mockery and some stern reproofs from the Respectable commentariat. It also got curious reporters digging around in Harvard Yard for details of President Gay’s background.

The first thing to be said here is that President Gay is full of it. ”We embrace a commitment to free expression, and give a wide berth to free expression even of views that are objectionable, outrageous and offensive…” The hell you say, Madame President.

FIRE, that’s the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, publishes annual rankings of U.S. colleges for student free speech and open inquiry. You can look up the current rankings online.

There are 248 colleges in the list. Top ranked: Michigan Technological University with an overall score of 78. Three other schools are also ranked ”Good.” Below them are 43 colleges ranked ”Above average.” Then there are 91 ranked ”Average” and 90 ”Below average.” Below those are 19 ranked ”Poor” or ”Very poor.”

That’s a total of 247 colleges. Wait, though: I said there were 248 colleges in the list. What’s the missing institution?

It’s Harvard, ranked 248 for student free speech and open inquiry with an overall score of zero. (The score was actually negative; the compilers of the freedom rankings rounded it up to be polite.) Harvard is so unfree the compilers had to assign it a category all its own: ”Abysmal.”

Hmm. Still, it’s Harvard. This President Claudine Gay must be quite a scholar to have been made president of the place, right?

Apparently not. Digging through her published research, reporters were surprised at how few of them there were—just eleven peer-reviewed articles. They also couldn’t help noticing big slabs of prose lifted from other scholars’ work without attribution.

This plagiarism was particularly noticeable in Ms. Gay’s 1997 dissertation, which contains solid blocks (sometimes with slight adjustments) from a paper published the previous year by two scholars she does not name in her citations [’This is Definitely Plagiarism’: Harvard University President Claudine Gay Copied Entire Paragraphs From Others’ Academic Work and Claimed Them as Her Own, by Aaron Sibarium, Washington Free Beacon, December 11, 2023].

OK, but perhaps Ms. Gay drew from that plagiarized material dazzling new conclusions that the plagiarized authors had not seen? If so—if she had, in her dissertation, made some brilliant conceptual breakthrough in her field—might we not forgive the transgression out of gratitude for these new insights?

And yes, I see that the dissertation did win a prize: The Robert N. Toppan Prize, awarded for ”essays or dissertations of exceptional merit,” in her field.

What is her field, by the way? Comp-Sci? Physics? Anthropology? History? Did her dissertation give us a possible new way to get to quantum computing or cheap fusion energy? Did it uncover some startling truths about the prehistory of our species, or something we never knew before about Bronze Age trade routes in the Mediterranean?

Er, no. Her 1997 dissertation was titled ”Taking Charge: Black Electoral Success and the Redefinition of American Politics.” Her most notable paper prior to that was a 1993 essay titled ”Between Black and White: The Complexity of Brazilian Race Relations.”

Harvard apparently considers those topics to belong to the field of Political Science. I myself would categorize them as being in the field of Blackety-Black, along with Michelle Obama’s 1985 Princeton thesis.

(Remember that one? The title was ”Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community.” A seven-word title, two of the words being ”black.” Michelle tried to squeeze out the ”and” or the ”the” to get another ”black” in there, but an IQ of 91 will only get you so far).

President Gay is, in other words, just another Affirmative-Action mediocrity, wafted up into the academic stratosphere on thermals of white ethnomasochism. If not for this antisemitism fuss, we might never have known that… although plenty of us, at this stage of the race game, would have guessed it with a high level of confidence.

Harvard’s governing body, the Harvard Corporation, was coming under pressure to fire President Gay, with major donors pulling their support. After a long debate into Monday night, they issued a statement saying they would not fire her [Harvard’s Board Unites Behind Its President, but Its Campus Remains Splintered, NYT, December 12, 2023].

Perhaps they just couldn’t. To fire a black person—a black woman—from a prestigious last position in the Establishment: that needs an Act of Congress, doesn’t it?

To the main point here: Should calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard University’s code of conduct?

If that was what the student protestors were calling for, the answer has to be yes. ”Genocide” means killing an entire race of people. If you want to do that, you are a homicidal psychopath. In a civilized society there should be no institution whose code of conduct validates homicidal psychopathology.

Is that what the Harvard protestors were calling for, though? Not that I could see. The commonest evidence that it was what they were calling for is offered with the slogan: ”From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” and the single word ”Intifada.”

The second item there, the word ”Intifada,” just means ”uprising,” so far as I can discover. There doesn’t seem to be any genocide in its etymology. I’m not an Arabist so I can’t be certain; I’ll take correction on this from someone better informed.

The first thing there, that slogan ”From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” might be interpreted as calling for all Israeli Jews to be killed. Probably the fiercer kind of Hamas supporters mean it that way.

I doubt that’s much of an element among the Harvard protestors, though. These are American college kids, who wouldn’t know which end of a gun the bullet comes out of unless they could look it up first on their smartphones. These are pasty soy-fed feminized midwits who turn pale and swoon if you address them with the wrong pronoun.

Sure, you could say that by chanting Hamas slogans they are indirectly supporting genocide; but then you’re getting deep into motives and intentions, and things get lawyerly.

Apologists for the Palestinian Arabs tell us that the ”river to the sea” slogan just means Jews and Arabs living happily together in a state not run by Jews. Probably a lot of them believe this themselves. Probably most of the college kids do. So, ”calling for the genocide of Jews”? Not really.

I always smile at the second line in that slogan: ”Palestine will be free.” Under Arab rule Palestine would of course not be free. It would be another corrupt trashcan gangster despotism like all Arab states, ruled by some thug like Gaddafy, Assad, or Saddam Hussein. My old colleague David Pryce-Jones wrote a good book about this twenty years ago, title: The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs. I recommend it to your attention.

Might not the Arab despot in charge of Palestine from the river to the sea leave his Jewish subjects alone? I suppose he might if he were paid to; but it’s not something you’d want to bet your life on.

So where the Harvard student protestors are concerned, I’d give them a pass. There are among them likely some, surely a minority, who would like to see all Palestine Jews murdered. If that minority can be identified they should be expelled; but how do you identify them? Most of those protesting just believe in the fairy tale of a free Arab Palestine with some Jewish citizens and take the word ”Intifada” to mean what I take it to mean.

As for antisemitism in all generality: should it be out of bounds as a topic for student speech and discussion? No, it shouldn’t. In a multiethnic society there will always be intergroup grudges and negativity. There should be places where those grudges and that negativity can be aired in an open, civilized way. Where better than a university?

Consider for example the idea, widely held among American Gentiles, that our national policies, both domestic and foreign, are too much influenced by Jews. Are they?

We had some exchanges about this here at In 2004 Eric Kaufmann, a Professor of Politics at the University of London, published a book titled The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America.

Prof. Kaufmann tackled the question: How did the old White Anglo-Saxon Protestant America turn into the rootless multicultural mishmash of late-20th-century America? He traced the transformation to insurgents among the WASPs themselves, with only a small contribution from immigrant groups.

That got a response from Kevin MacDonald, Professor of psychology at California State University-Long Beach. MacDonald had written three books about the Jews from the point of view of evolutionary psychology. The Jews have, he’d argued, for centuries practiced a group evolutionary strategy against the host cultures they found themselves in.

In July 2009 here at MacDonald posted a critical review of Kaufmann’s book. The death of WASP culture, MacDonald wrote, was not a case of suicide, as Kaufmann had argued: it was murder. WASP-ism was vanquished by the Jews’ group evolutionary strategy.

Two weeks later we posted a rebuttal by Kaufmann of MacDonald’s review. It was suicide, Kaufmann insisted, not murder. We followed that with a posting by MacDonald rebutting Kaufmann’s rebuttal of MacDonald’s review.

Those Kaufmann-MacDonald exchanges were very cordial and academic. Good, lucid arguments were put forward by both professors. They wrote at length. MacDonald’s original review was almost four thousand words. Kaufmann’s rebuttal was twelve hundred. MacDonald’s counter-rebuttal was nineteen hundred.

So was the death of WASP America a murder or a suicide? Read their books; or at least, read those 2009 exchanges here at, and make up your own mind. That’s how civilized people seek the truth.

As I said, and as we surely all know, where a society includes self-consciously different ethnies, there are bound to be grudges and resentments. A wise society will minimize the problems by maintaining an ethnic super-majority, as we argue for here on VDARE. It will also allow tensions to be aired openly, in thoughtful discussion, as we did back in 2009.

It will not take every chanted slogan to be a call to mass murder. Nor will it try to eliminate intergroup negativity by censorship and the suppression of peaceful demonstrations.

That’s not wisdom, that’s hysteria.

John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him.) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.

For years he’s been podcasting at Radio Derb, now available at for no charge. His writings are archived at

Readers who wish to donate (tax deductible) funds specifically earmarked for John Derbyshire’s writings at can do so here.

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