Jewish minority white-skinned privileged male named Harvard's president; racist diversifiers object
After Harvard University's president Drew Gilpin Faust announced her retirement effective at the end of the 2017-18 school year, the school named Lawrence S. Bacow as her successor.
Lawrence S. Bacow, one of the most experienced and respected leaders in American higher education, will become the 29th president of Harvard University on July 1.
Currently the Hauser Leader-in-Residence at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government's Center for Public Leadership, Bacow served with distinction for 10 years as President of Tufts University, where he was known for his dedication to expanding student opportunity, fostering innovation in education and research, enhancing collaboration across schools and disciplines, and spurring consideration of how universities can best serve society.
The announcement continues, describing Bacow's prestigious education, outstanding academic accomplishments, impressive career initiatives, and interesting personal background. He's a seemingly excellent and uncontroversial choice. Seemingly. Because this is now, when even stating 2 +2 = 4 can bring a response that this answer is arbitrarily assigned and that multiple answers can be correct depending on...blah, blah, blah. You know the drill.
And so the folks who reject merit as a qualifier, whose only criteria are advancing (certain) diversity, pluralism, and multiculturalism, erupted at the announcement, whining that Bakow is – eek! – another Harvard "white privileged male" and an economist, with even the bland all-American name of Lawrence. So white-skin privileged toxic male will lead Harvard. Again.
But...but...Bacow is "[t]he son of immigrant parents – his father a refugee from the pogroms of Eastern Europe, his mother a survivor of Auschwitz – Bacow has long been devoted to education's vital role in enabling pursuit of the American dream."
Bacow's parents survived the worst type of living hell in Europe, where some of the few who emerged alive from its evils managed to immigrate – legally – to America and, with great determination, overcome many unimaginable obstacles. Bacow is a first-generation American, a child of immigrants – but not the right kind of immigrants to the diversifiers, apparently. He's still white. And male.
Oh, and Bacow believes in the American dream. Oh, no! Another mark against him think the diversifiers.
By the way, although not mentioned but implied – if you know history – is Bacow's minority status. He is Jewish. Yeah, Jews are a minority – less than 2% of the population, therefore much fewer in number and a lower percentage than other officially designated minorities such as black Americans and people from countries conquered by Spain and south of the U.S. wall-less border. But apparently, that is irrelevant – at best. Because Bacow is is Jewish. And white. And male.
How ironic that Harvard, along with other so-called elite universities, for years practiced its own version of diversity, the notorious Jewish quota system, to limit the number of qualified Jews under the often not so thinly disguised rationale of geographic diversity. Today, diversity is the excuse used by these same institutions to limit the more highly qualified Jews and Asians and other whites of whatever ancestry in favor of less qualified other minorities. Because diversity is merit.
Further confusing Harvard's demanding diversifiers, Faust, Harvard's present president, also has white skin. At least it is draped on a female. However, when she assumed the post nearly 11 years ago, she:
... wanted to be the president of Harvard, but I recognized that there was this kind of parallel track where I was being the woman president of Harvard in a way that mattered.
Ah, identity "that mattered."
Solving this dilemma can be explained only by another Harvard student in the Harvard student newspaper, The Crimson, in Harvardese thinking. Follow along.
The decision to name Lawrence S. Bacow Harvard's 29th president will crystallize much of the same disagreement that defines the modern Democratic Party. His supporters will point to his track record as an environmental studies professor, a skilled fundraiser, and founder of Tufts University's Office of Institutional Diversity. Critics will note his ties to large corporations and impute a pragmatism unsuited for radical reform. Time will tell how these debates unfold.
In the immediate, however, the community and public have become embroiled in another development: that Bacow's selection marks "a return to white male leadership." ...
In its coverage this past week, The Crimson has already detailed the range of relevant attitudes among campus ethnic organizations, which at various moments have called for Latino representation among the presidential candidates, requests for a strong affirmative action advocate, and demands for a champion of ethnic studies. In contrast, someone has yet to probe the connection between these resurgent identity discussions and our liberal sensibilities: specifically, how we resolve the old dilemma of "process" versus "outcome" in the context of representation. ...
Calling attention to the rift between outcome and process-oriented perspectives is a timely project, particularly in the wake of similar liberal indecision following the 2016 election. Then, there was much excitement about a woman snagging the nomination of a major political party, which many cast as a sign of social progress. When Donald Trump won, Democrats had to parse through the wreckage in search of lessons. One crucial (yet unvoiced) question from that soul-searching was what to make of Clinton's womanhood. Did her presence – which marked a widening of the horizon of representation – still reflect some sort of progress? Process liberals would say so; outcome liberals might disagree. ...
All the same, I say we stay positive. That Bacow is our incoming president may well prove to be a win-win scenario. Either he takes up the mantle of progress that some had hoped a woman of color would, or he forces us to finally acknowledge – and adjudicate – our liberal indecisions.
Perhaps all should recall Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior's powerful "I Have a Dream" speech, given at the March On Washington 54 years ago.
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
Oh, right. He was a male. Though a person of color. But still, male.