The New McCarthyism at the University of California

Thomas Lifson
A group of University of California faculty has succeeded in silencing a voice with which they disagree. That voice belongs to Lawrence Summers, former president of Harvard University and former Secretary of the Treasury for the Clinton Administration. John Wildermuth of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Summers was supposed to address the University's Board of Regents at a scheduled dinner next week, but that after a faculty petition protesting Summers' appearance gained more than  300 signatures, Summers was abruptly dumped from the engagement.

Writes Wildermuth:
"I was appalled and stunned that someone like Summers would even be invited to speak to the regents," said UC Davis Professor Maureen Stanton, who helped put together the petition drive. "I think many of us who were involved in the protest believed that it wouldn't reflect well on the university that he even received the invitation."

The petition called Summers' invitation "not only misguided but inappropriate" at a time when the university is working to diversify its community.

"Inviting a keynote speaker who has come to symbolize gender and racial prejudice in academia conveys the wrong message to the University community and to the people of California," the petition said.

The decision to dump Summers as the speaker at the dinner was abrupt. His name was on the dinner invitation that went out Aug. 31, along with other information about the three-day meeting at UC Davis, Davis said.
This cave-in to those who wish to not merely silence but anathemize views different than their own is an atrocious capitulation to bullies, all the more so in light of the recent hiring and then firing of Erwin Chemerinsky as dean of the nascent UC Irvine law school. In many ways it is even worse, because the purpose in this case is to make certain that Summers' views cannot be heard anywhere. Nobody was demanding that Chemerinsky be denied a platform to speak, only making the point that he was an inappropriate occupant of an administrative position.

Many conservative voices, including my own, have been raised in protest over the treatment of Chemerinsky. I wonder how many principled liberals will stand up to defend Summers, who, after all, is himself quite liberal, but who dared raise a hypothesis that is now deemed so unacceptable by the left that he must be shunned.

The faculty petitioners have succeeded in silencing someone with whom they disagree. No doubt they think of themselves as quite "progressive." But their fear of allowing a viewpoint other than their own to be heard exposes them as bullies.

What both cases have in common is cowardice on the part of the senior levels of the University of California's management and governance mechanism. So much for a brave defence of the principle that the academy must allow all voices to be heard. Out of thousands of faculty members in the University of California system, it required only 300 or so to intimidate the Regents. What has happened to the principle of academic freedom at UC?

Professor Stanton seems to recognize in some part of her consciousness that she has succeeded in a shameful endeavor. Wildermuth quotes her:
While delighted that the regents have decided to replace Summers, Stanton now hopes the dispute will be quickly forgotten.

"Frankly, we'd like to see the story just die at this point," she said.
The demonstration of academic intolerance should not be forgotten. Something very reprehensible has taken place, and the University of California has disgraced itself.

Again.
A group of University of California faculty has succeeded in silencing a voice with which they disagree. That voice belongs to Lawrence Summers, former president of Harvard University and former Secretary of the Treasury for the Clinton Administration. John Wildermuth of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Summers was supposed to address the University's Board of Regents at a scheduled dinner next week, but that after a faculty petition protesting Summers' appearance gained more than  300 signatures, Summers was abruptly dumped from the engagement.

Writes Wildermuth:
"I was appalled and stunned that someone like Summers would even be invited to speak to the regents," said UC Davis Professor Maureen Stanton, who helped put together the petition drive. "I think many of us who were involved in the protest believed that it wouldn't reflect well on the university that he even received the invitation."

The petition called Summers' invitation "not only misguided but inappropriate" at a time when the university is working to diversify its community.

"Inviting a keynote speaker who has come to symbolize gender and racial prejudice in academia conveys the wrong message to the University community and to the people of California," the petition said.

The decision to dump Summers as the speaker at the dinner was abrupt. His name was on the dinner invitation that went out Aug. 31, along with other information about the three-day meeting at UC Davis, Davis said.
This cave-in to those who wish to not merely silence but anathemize views different than their own is an atrocious capitulation to bullies, all the more so in light of the recent hiring and then firing of Erwin Chemerinsky as dean of the nascent UC Irvine law school. In many ways it is even worse, because the purpose in this case is to make certain that Summers' views cannot be heard anywhere. Nobody was demanding that Chemerinsky be denied a platform to speak, only making the point that he was an inappropriate occupant of an administrative position.

Many conservative voices, including my own, have been raised in protest over the treatment of Chemerinsky. I wonder how many principled liberals will stand up to defend Summers, who, after all, is himself quite liberal, but who dared raise a hypothesis that is now deemed so unacceptable by the left that he must be shunned.

The faculty petitioners have succeeded in silencing someone with whom they disagree. No doubt they think of themselves as quite "progressive." But their fear of allowing a viewpoint other than their own to be heard exposes them as bullies.

What both cases have in common is cowardice on the part of the senior levels of the University of California's management and governance mechanism. So much for a brave defence of the principle that the academy must allow all voices to be heard. Out of thousands of faculty members in the University of California system, it required only 300 or so to intimidate the Regents. What has happened to the principle of academic freedom at UC?

Professor Stanton seems to recognize in some part of her consciousness that she has succeeded in a shameful endeavor. Wildermuth quotes her:
While delighted that the regents have decided to replace Summers, Stanton now hopes the dispute will be quickly forgotten.

"Frankly, we'd like to see the story just die at this point," she said.
The demonstration of academic intolerance should not be forgotten. Something very reprehensible has taken place, and the University of California has disgraced itself.

Again.