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  • What Ivory Tower?

    Posted by demimasque on February 22nd, 2006 (All posts by )

    The Ivy League has lost another one. Larry Summers has resigned.

    Over his time at Harvard, Summers has brought the university back into public light, and tried to make the university more accessible. Unfortunately, he has made unfortunate comments such as this:

    He offered three possible explanations, in declining order of importance, for the small number of women in high-level positions in science and engineering. The first was the reluctance or inability of women who have children to work 80-hour weeks.

    The second point was that fewer girls than boys have top scores on science and math tests in late high school years. “I said no one really understands why this is, and it’s an area of ferment in social science,” Summers said in an interview Saturday. “Research in behavioral genetics is showing that things people previously attributed to socialization weren’t” due to socialization after all. This was the point that most angered some of the listeners, several of whom said Summers said that women do not have the same “innate ability” or “natural ability” as men in some fields.

    Asked about this, Summers said, “It’s possible I made some reference to innate differences. . . I did say that you have to be careful in attributing things to socialization. . . That’s what we would prefer to believe, but these are things that need to be studied.”

    Of course, at the bastion of liberal sensibilities that is Harvard, that comment did not go down well, as there’s no possibility that a white male could have any purpose in mind other than to degrade, denigrate, and disregard womyn. Right.

    And now, the flickering light of sanity that Summers was trying to bring to the ivory towers of the Ivy League is to be extinguished. And Summers isn’t completely coy about his reasons:

    Working closely with all parts of the Harvard community, and especially with our remarkable students, has been one of the great joys of my professional life. However, I have reluctantly concluded that the rifts between me and segments of the Arts and Sciences faculty make it infeasible for me to advance the agenda of renewal that I see as crucial to Harvard’s future. I believe, therefore, that it is best for the University to have new leadership.

    (Hat-tip: Mad Minerva)

    Look for the “liberals” now to proclaim that the hens have chased the fox out of their house. Of course, never having been out of the coop, it may be easy to mistake a guard dog for a fox.

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]


    4 Responses to “What Ivory Tower?”

    1. Jim Miller Says:

      A minor point of terminology: I usually call the folks who opposed Summers (and similar people) “leftists”, rather than liberals. I do that because they are not classical liberals, nor are they very similar to the liberals of my youth, who were mostly social democrats, but were also strong supporters of freedom of speech, and strong opponents of racial preferences.

      This goes against common usage, but I think it helps clarify what they actually stand for.

    2. Shannon Love Says:

      I second Jim Miller’s use of the term Leftist instead of Liberal. As Confucius said, the first step in to good governance is to truthfully name things.

    3. Bruce Chang Says:

      Liberalism just ain’t what it used to be, is it?

    4. Legion Says:

      Fair enough; then conservatives are really to be called a thinbg by its true name.
      Why is that it is ok to decides what to label people when they oppose your viewpoint but you will insist on their keeping Your label for what you want to be called? Janus, god of two faces, right (or rightwing?)