by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
As one watches Harvard University abandon any semblance of commitment to academic standards in defense of its accused serial-plagiarist president Claudine Gay, the curious mind might wonder how an institution that is closing in on its 400th year could be taken over by such mediocrity. Indeed, turn aside from the plagiarism complaint altogether to consider her work on its merits, and it becomes immediately clear that President Gay’s “scholarly” work is profoundly inconsequential. It is one thing to plagiarize a great idea, yet another thing altogether and perhaps even more damning to do so to a minor contribution with little lasting value.
Institutions like Harvard have an outsize role in society, and their decline is acutely related to their willingness to tolerate mediocrity that has fashionable views, regardless of race. Speaking to the Mont Pelerin Society in 1975, Bill Buckley noted presciently:
“It is especially significant for our problem that every scholar can probably name several instances from his field of men who have undeservedly achieved a popular reputation as great scientists solely because they hold what the intellectuals regard as ‘progressive’ political views; but I have yet to come across a single instance where such a scientific pseudo-reputation has been bestowed for political reasons on a scholar of more conservative leanings.”
The problem is that the decline of our great academic institutions has a destructive effect on society. It is our “elite” thinkers who nearly nominated avowed socialist Bernie Sanders, then arranged for Sanders’s minions to populate the Biden administration and guide policies that open our borders, massively increase the reach of government, allow crime to spiral out of control, and engage in lawfare against political opponents, just to name a few.
These are not accidents. The destruction of our institutions is exactly the point of today’s far Left, and it is not a new thing.