A co-father of string theory and lots of other creative ideas in physics and my once co-author Lenny Susskind (he's been surely more important for me than the very modest paper indicates) is the current director of physics at Stanford and he wrote a "letter on the lunatic" which he agreed to turn into an open letter. Here it is:
Letter to My Friends, by Leonard SusskindIt's often being said that left-wing ideologies are unavoidably totalitarian in character and every leftist is a Stalin to the extent to which he is allowed to act as one. One's firm fist – either literally or metaphorically – is the only thing that protects tens of millions of lives from a leftist. It's hard to disagree when you read this Susskind's rant.
I’m watching this thing that’s happening with disbelief, dismay, and disgust. There is a lunatic loose—I’m sure we all agree about that—but I keep hearing people say that they can’t vote for Hillary. I heard it at my daughter’s birthday party Sunday. Boy oh boy, will these people be sorry if the lunatic gets his way. Personally I do not find it an excuse that “I live in California, which will go Democrat whatever I do.”
I strongly believe in all things Bernie, but Hillary is not the Anti-Bernie. There is much less difference between Clinton and Sanders than the distortions of the nominating process might lead people to think. She’s for health care, he’s for health care; he’s for increased minimum wage, she’s for increased minimum wage; she’s for immigrant rights, he’s for immigrant rights; and on and on it goes.
The lunatic may be just that—a lunatic—but he is also a master of smear and innuendo. He is a gigantic liar, and he knows that if you keep saying something over and over, it sticks in people’s minds. It’s called the Big Lie, and it works. Say it enough and it sows confusion and distrust, not only among the know-nothings, but even among those who know better.
The lunatic and his supporters are exceedingly dangerous. Tell your friends: don’t be fooled. The only thing between us and the lunatic is Hillary. Get off your ass and vote in Nov.
Director, Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics,
For some reason, this director's assault on a leading presidential candidate – and, equally explicitly, on about 50% of the U.S. citizens who support him – is considered OK and faces no backlash. Susskind claims that "all of them agree" that Trump is a lunatic. Just try to imagine what message this is sending to regular students, postdocs, or faculty at Stanford who naturally support Donald Trump.
The tolerance towards the university officials' interventions into politics is highly selective. When Larry Summers, then Harvard's president, very carefully suggested that there could be a biological reason contributing to women's underrepresentation in STEM – something that almost every kid finds obvious – the feminists began to scream that the university's president had no right to talk about such things, not even behind the closed door and the terror ignited by these unpleasant ladies became the main reason why Summers was de facto forced to resign from a job he loved.
Now, when the director of physics writes that the politician enjoying the support of some 50% of his nation is a "lunatic" and that these supporters are "exceedingly dangerous", everything seems to be fine. The political atmosphere at the U.S. universities is broken beyond repair.
Larry G gives another gedanken experiment:
I am pretty sure, that if some scientist had written similar letter about Obama before the last elections, he would have been fired, or at least witch-hunted and ostracized (there were tens of such stories in last few years, let’s name a few: Sir Tim Hunt, James Watson, Matt Taylor).I have visited Stanford 5 times or so, I don't know exactly. During the first interactions, Lenny Susskind would refer to me as "my right-wing friend". Because I had no doubt that he was left-wing at that point, it sounded kind enough etc. But when I heard the phrase "my right-wing friend" for the fifth time, it started to sound sick. Why did he feel the urge to expose my politics whenever we appeared at the same place?
But for bashing Trump, one is being endorsed… Trump and his supporters couldn’t have imagined a better proof for their words about double standards existing in Western public debate and heavy leftist bias of academia and media.
At some moment, I decided that he had a psychological problem with my being right-wing, exactly the same – if not greater – problem that the communists in Czechoslovakia used to have with the right-wingers. And perhaps the broader environment had a problem with that. He was using the phrase in order to hurt me in the social community. Can you imagine he would refer to a female physicist as a "my vagina-enhanced friend"?
By the way, because the letter was a "letter to Susskind's friends" and it says that "all of us agree Trump is a lunatic", it seems that Susskind no longer has any right-wing friends. Well, perhaps not even any anti-Hillary friends.
You know, I've fought against a left-wing totalitarian regime for some years and I can sense such things instantly. This is the same thing. Boy oh boy, all of us agree that Lenny Susskind is clearly a part of this extremely serious problem. Shame on you, Lenny.
It's funny to imagine Susskind's daughter's birthday party at which Susskind didn't allow the guests oppose Hillary. They must have loved him. Lenny, your rant makes it obvious that you know next to nothing about politics and are only capable of repeating some very cheap insults and ideological clichés. Why don't you exploit the amazing opportunity to shut your mouth?
I must comment on the only sentence in Susskind's letter that is about political issues:
She’s for health care, he’s for health care; he’s for increased minimum wage, she’s for increased minimum wage; she’s for immigrant rights, he’s for immigrant rights; and on and on it goes.Well, they're left-wing on these three and other issues. It's remarkable that Susskind is willing to promote all these opinions to an official truth. I am confident that the people who have the left-wing opinions on all these matters are a minority in the U.S.
And there are surely lots of people who are wisely against health care - Susskind's shortcut for a socialist health care; against any minimum wage or at least against an increased one, a policy that surely reduces the efficiency of any economy; against illegal immigration and against mass immigration from ideologically troubled parts of the world. Many Americans would prefer immigrants to be right-wing friends rather than Muslims, and so on.
Are these Americans still allowed in the Stanford physics department? Or maybe they have been forbidden for years and I just missed it?