Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Segments vs. Summers

Update: Prof. Jim Miller will become the first serious candidate to replace Summers. In his letter to the Corporation, Miller not only correctly analyzes the events but he also promises that he will never surrender to the segments. If you like the idea, please feel more than free to write your own letter to the Corporation to support Jim Miller. ;-) I am too conservative and will probably wait for someone older - and someone who won't require an army of Schwarzeneggers as bodyguards. :-)

It has been about 20 hours since the Harvard community has learned about the resignation of the president. As you can imagine, it is sad news for me. On the other hand, as you could have noticed, all of us survived: it was actually a bittersweet day.

Figure 1: Harvard's opinion about Larry Summers on 2/21/2006. Segments excluded.

It is better that Summers has made this tough decision (almost) himself than if he were directly fired because of the desire of the segments.

Another advantage of the current situation is that Summers and his soulmates have a huge moral advantage over the segments. Virtually everyone seems to realize that the segments are the problem. It is very hard to find an article on the Internet that would support the segments. The segments are those who threaten the intellectual qualities and intellectual diversity of the oldest U.S. university as well as other schools. The segments are those who forced this exceptional president to resign. The segments should be deeply ashamed.

The Wall Street Journal discusses the differences between the creative scholars and managers on one side and the segments on the other side here. Thanks, Aaron S., for the link. Bloomberg also supports Summers and compares his job and the challenges with the challenges that the Clinton team had to face. The Crimson explains that outside FAS, the support for Summers has been strong. The donors are upset by the resignation, too. The American Thinker thinks that the Left has captured Harvard, but I think that they are wrong. Ben Shapiro calls the behavior of the segments a "travesty", a disgrace to the university, and a dramatic example of the totalitarian control that the campus left exerts on its administrators.

Hundreds of other articles can be found via The blogosphere has more colorful articles - such as The Crucifixion of the Truth.

Summers has not only a moral advantage but he still has four extra months in the office before he will enjoy his sabbatical. Four months is enough to finish some smaller projects and save some money by squeezing certain segments. In the case that you have not yet understood why The Reference Frame invites you to use the word "segment" as the ultimate yet politically correct insult :-), here is the crucial sentence in which Summers announced his decision:
  • 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.

This may be a lost battle for Summers but it may become a victorious war for all of us, too. Wednesday 2/21/2006 was also the day on which the self-censorship imposed on all of us by the segments becomes invalid. Summers himself is free to say what he thinks and as far as I can see, the rest of us is free, too. The segments are no longer just obnoxious inhibitors of our intellectual activity; they became someone who can actually force others to resign. They are demonstrably dangerous people and all of us should be talking about these threats seriously and without any self-censorship whatsoever.

Figure 2: Students' opinion about Larry Summers on 2/21/2006.

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