- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 22, 2005

In the meekest of ways, Harvard President Lawrence Summers has become something of a cause celebre among conservatives for challenging the ultra-liberal orthodoxy dominating American universities. It was meek because that wasn’t what Mr. Summers had in mind when he suggested that genetic differences might help explain why more men pursue careers in the hard sciences and mathematics than women. But that’s also the point: By daring to question the conventional thinking of his profession, however it happened, Mr. Summers committed the ultimate sin.

For his crimes, Mr. Summers has had to apologize profusely, meet with feminist student and faculty groups, and attend two faculty meetings — the latest one just yesterday — which can more accurately be described as re-education seminars. And yet he still faces termination. To those of us who aren’t part of the Ivory Tower, this all seems both silly and a dangerous assault on free speech, free thought and dissent.

At the same time, it’s educational for the American people to see for themselves every once in a while how degraded our institutions of higher learning have become. Mr. Summers’ critics have chosen to splash their witch hunt on the front pages for all to see. Organizations like the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and activists like David Horowitz, who are waging an important struggle against repressive universities, couldn’t have asked for a better marketing tool. Their case has always been “it’s worse than you think.” Now, millions of Americans are beginning to understand that they’re right.

With that in mind, allow us to throw out a suggestion of our own: Should Mr. Summers retain his position as president — and he should — the entire fiasco may have represented the high-water mark of liberal-dominated political correctness. Even if Mr. Summers is forced out, people who had never given a second thought to academia will immediately wonder why their child’s professor or university defended Ward Churchill, but attacked Mr. Summers. The liberal academic’s mind has been revealed to be closed. The end of such a mentality will be a long time in coming, but perhaps we have just witnessed the beginning of the end.

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