professor says gays defenders expose progressive academics soft bigotry on race

A professor wrote a scathing rebuke of those defending former Harvard President Claudine Gay this week after she resigned in disgrace following mounting allegations of plagiarism and controversial comments on antisemitism.

In his op-ed for The Atlantic on Wednesday, Bates College assistant professor Tyler Austin Harper criticized liberals in academia and in the media who’ve supported Gay by “minimizing” and “normalizing” the plagiarism charges against her.

“The true scandal of the Claudine Gay affair is not a Harvard president and her plagiarism. The true scandal is that so many journalists and academics were willing, are still willing, to redefine plagiarism to suit their politics,” he wrote.

“Gay’s boosters have consistently resorted to Orwellian doublespeak—’duplicative language’ and academic ‘sloppiness’ and ‘technical attribution issues’—in a desperate effort to insist that lifting entire paragraphs of another scholar’s work, nearly word for word, without quotation or citation, isn’t plagiarism. Or that if it is plagiarism, it’s merely a technicality. Or that we all do it,” the professor criticized.

MEDIA RUSH TO DEFEND EX-HARVARD PRESIDENT CLAUDINE GAY, DOWNPLAY PLAGIARISM AND BLAME ‘RACIST’ CONSERVATIVES

Former Harvard President Claudine Gay, who recently made headlines for refusing to say if calling for genocide of Jews was against Harvard policy during a congressional hearing, has been accused of multiple accounts of plagiarism in recent weeks. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Reporters from the Associated Press, CNN, New York Times and Politico downplayed the plagiarism charges against Gay in their coverage of her resignation and seemed to put blame on conservative activists who had pressured Harvard to respond to the accusations. 

Several left-wing academics have also furiously defended Gay on social media, with Boston University professor Ibram X. Kendi calling Gay’s critics a “racist mob.”

But Harper argued these knee-jerk responses to defend Gay at all costs revealed the right had won this “culture war.”

“[Christopher] Rufo won this round of the academic culture war because he exposed so many progressive scholars and journalists to be hypocrites and political actors who were willing to throw their ideals overboard. I suspect that, not the tenure of a Harvard president, was the prize he sought all along. The tragedy is that we didn’t have to give it to him,” the professor wrote.

Gay was already under scrutiny for failing to say if calls for genocide violated university guidelines during a congressional hearing on antisemitism, Harper wrote, and the right was looking for “an excuse to force her out.”

That doesn’t negate that Gay was “clearly guilty,” he argued.

“Those who rushed to characterize her resignation as the outcome of a ‘bullying’ campaign designed to oust Harvard’s first Black president omit an inconvenient detail: She was clearly guilty. The bullying worked because the facts were too difficult to massage. That didn’t stop many of my fellow academics from trying,” he said.

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Harvard President Claudine Gay

Former Harvard President Claudine Gay (Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

WHO IS INTERIM HARVARD PRESIDENT ALAN M. GARBER?

Harper admitted he was frustrated by others in his field justifying what Gay did, saying these arguments defending “blatant plagiarism debases our profession.”

“The idea that clear and long-established criteria for plagiarism should have been thrown out to save the elite-born president of an elite university, solely on the basis of her skin color, is not only preposterous; it’s that old soft bigotry,” he condemned.

The professor suggested Harvard replace Gay with a “talented” qualified candidate of color. In doing so, they would be supporting diversity while showing they were immune to conservative “meddling,” he argued.

Before her resignation, other academics called on Gay to step down. In his piece last month for the New York Times, Columbia University professor John McWhorter argued that Gay would be tarnishing the elite school’s reputation if she stayed, as well as displaying that Harvard held a “double standard” for Black academics.

A video board monitor truck drives around the neighborhood of the Harvard University President’s house

A video board monitor truck drives around the neighborhood of the Harvard University President’s house Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024. Harvard president Claudine Gay stepped down from her leadership position after plagiarism, antisemitism scandals.   (Hans Pennink for Fox News Digital)

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