Radio Derb goes to tape at midnight on Thursday, so this week’s broadcast is not totally up to date with the Jason Richwine story. I think I got the essence of it, though.
As Radio Derb goes to tape the internet is ringing with denunciations of Jason Richwine as a sinister racist with Klan robes in his back closet and a Confederate flag on his pickup truck. It all reminds me of something, though I can't quite bring to mind what.[I note in passing here that among the many comments on my own Two Minutes Hate last year, one that particularly made me smile—I thought it was in the comment thread here somewhere, but can’t now find it—was one expressing genuine bafflement that a racist could appreciate opera and know long words like “paleoanthropological.”]
In fact Jason is a polite and charming young man—I've met him a couple of times—and his thesis, which I have read (it's on the internet), is an exemplary piece of quantitative scholarship, well structured, fully referenced and carefully argued.
The witch-hunters are in fact having some trouble explaining how three eminent scholars—an economist, a sociologist, and a political scientist—at Harvard University, not formerly known as a hotbed of extreme-right radicalism, signed off on the thesis. The mystery deepens when you learn that the sociologist has a long paper trail as a liberal. In one of his early books, in fact, published forty years ago, he described himself as a socialist. Yet here these guys are, associating with, oh my god!, a racist.
What on earth is going on? The leftists just can't figure it out. It defies all their categories. Racists are snaggle-toothed hillbillies drinking liquor from a jar. What's one even doing at Harvard?
Over at the Daily Kos website some writer under the pseudonym “Empty Vessel” has called for the three professors to be “held publicly accountable.” He tells us he's written to the dean of the Kennedy School of Government asking “why the School awarded Richwine a Ph.D. and what they plan to do in the future to prevent it from happening again.”To the shame of Harvard University, and in particular of Professors Borjas, Zeckhauser, and Jencks—the three who signed off on Jason Richwine’s thesis—it looks as though these things aren’t going to happen, and therefore . . . Well, you know.
This is Soviet stuff. As an Enemy of the People myself, I hope Richwine stands tall and spits in the eyes of these two-bit commissars, as I do every chance I get. I also hope that the scholars who passed his thesis will stand up and make a vigorous defense of academic freedom and rational enquiry.
If these things don't happen, we shall have edged a little way closer to the darkness.
On external evidence, I’d deduce that all three of these professors have tenure. So what are they scared of?
We are always told that the argument for professorial tenure is that it allows academics to take politically unpopular positions without fear for their jobs. Well, so much for that! To be silent in defense of scholarship for fear of losing your job is understandable, even if ignoble. We all have hostages to fortune. To be silent when the cost to you of speaking out is essentially zero, is contemptible.
If there is a nationwide movement to abolish professorial tenure, sign me up. If these academic weasels won’t take a stand for scholarship, truth, and civilization, let them face the mob defenseless like the rest of us.
In one very similar case known (indirectly) to me, the silent academic excused himself by saying: “I got mixed up in this stuff once before. I was getting some really offensive emails.”
Poor thing! Doesn’t your heart go out?
I’ve been getting offensive emails for thirteen years. Grow a pair, pal.
Contrariwise, praise and glory to academics who have stood up for the disinterested pursuit of truth. Let’s get a roll call going. I’ll start it off:
Charles Murray . . . Though I doubt you could, even if you tried really hard, come up with a slogan more ill-suited to the generality of academics than Murray’s: “Integrity. Loyalty. Balls.”
I haven’t yet seen any reference to Jason Richwine having been derbyshiren. My strong inclination is to discourage the usage in this case. There is really no fair comparison between the two cases. I got Two Minutes Hated for a piece of fugitive journalism in an obscure web magazine: Jason is getting the treatment for A HARVARD UNIVERSITY PH.D. THESIS, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.
And actually, uncharacteristically, in that fact I find a glimmer of hope.
As I said on Radio Derb, the Cultural Marxist commissars are suffering severe cognitive dissonance at the thought of Jason’s thesis having been approved by an institution they regard as a standard-bearer for their values—see for example the way Harvard dealt with Larry Summers’ crimethink.
What they do not understand is that while large parts of the Academy have been corrupted beyond redemption by ideology, the better kinds of colleges have always maintained a cadre of serious scholars who respect data and appreciate rigorous quantitative analysis, no matter where it leads.
The human sciences and social sciences in particular have been considerably quantificated (quantized? whatever: I mean "made more quantitative") across the last half century. Jonathan Haidt’s latest book, for instance. If anyone was writing stuff like that in 1963, and getting it on the nonfiction bestseller lists, I don’t know about it.
Gradually, persistently, the work of these scholars has been eating away at the foundations of Cultural Marxism, as economic reality slowly corroded the great actual-Marxist national-power structures of the 20th century.
If these scholars can survive, and keep working, they may eventually bring us a Ceaușescu Moment, when the whole edifice of lies comes crashing down. There, perhaps, is some plausible excuse for the weaseling of Profs. Borjas, Zeckhauser, and Jencks. I wish I could believe they had such honest motives. I wish I could believe it.
Now, students, for weekend assignment, please ponder the following topic.
If Cultural Marxism is indeed headed for a Ceaușescu Moment, what will come after it? I offered my own speculations to CPAC last year. The proprietor of Chateau Heartiste has just been offering his. What do you think?Eight hundred words by Monday morning. Nothing handwritten, please.