I wish I were a billionaire who had given a pot of money to Harvard University. I would write Harvard a stern public letter rebuking its anemic response to anti-Jewish bigotry by Harvard students. I would vow not to give the university one more dime. A few billionaires have taken that action.
Indeed, there is strong evidence that antisemitism lurks in the shadows on Harvard's musty campus. Adrian Ahkenazy, a Harvard alum, and a Harvard Jewish Alumni Association co-founder, wrote an op-ed essay in the New York Post a few days ago, noting that there are fewer Jewish students and faculty at Harvard than in years past. "Among many saddening discoveries," he wrote, "we see that Jews have been purged across campus--from the administration and the Board of Supervisors to the faculty and the student body." Jewish students comprise only 5 percent of the Harvard student body, down from more than 20 percent at the turn of the twentieth century.
In an open letter to the Harvard community, Harvard's president implicitly admitted that antisemitism is a problem at the university. President Claudine Gay wrote that Harvard is "seeking to identify external partnerships that will allow Harvard to learn from and work with others on our strategy [to combat antisemitism]." To me, it sounds like Harvard plans to hire some consultants to study anti-Jewish bigotry until people forget about it.
I am not a billionaire and have never given Harvard any money (besides my tuition). How can I effectively express my contempt for Harvard's closet antisemitism?
I have a Harvard doctoral degree, which I could publicly burn as a protest of Harvard's cowardice and closet bigotry. I also purchased a crimson academic gown for my Harvard graduation ceremony in 1993. I could burn that, too.
However, I will not set my diploma or academic regalia ablaze. I don't believe in setting things on fire to express my political convictions. In any event, I don't think anything I might say or do would get Harvard’s attention. After all, I live in Flyover Country.
How do ordinary people censor an elite university trafficking in prestige while marinating in bigotry and moral cowardice? We can begin by deconstructing Harvard's image as the epitome of intellectual and moral superiority.
Many Americans believe that Harvard people are more intelligent and more morally sensitive than the rest of us. Having spent some time at Harvard, I can tell you that legend is untrue. There are some smart people at Harvard, but most Harvardians are no more intelligent than your favorite handyman or plumber.
Perhaps William F. Buckley said it best: “I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.”