Posted on | February 20, 2014 | 60 Comments
Sandra Korn: Feminist socialist lesbian — but I repeat myself.
“If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of ‘academic freedom’?
“Instead, I would like to propose a more rigorous standard: one of ‘academic justice.’ When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue.”
– Sandra Y.L. Korn, Harvard University senior
“Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left.”
– Herbert Marcuse, “Repressive Tolerance,” 1965
Most of us who lived through the 1960s and ’70s have no desire for a repetition of that carnival of radical errors. Unfortunately, many of those who do remember that era fondly are leftist academics who have turned American university campuses into cauldrons of radicalism, where they inculcate in their young protégés a misplaced nostalgia for an idealized make-believe version of the Sixties. Brainy youth at elite institutions are therefore filled with an obsolete revolutionary zeal to “smash the system,” as if the Establishment today were as oppressive as the administration of Clark Kerr, the hapless liberal whose misfortune it was to be president of the University of California when the Berkeley “Free Speech Movement” erupted.
Because today’s radical youth do not know the actual history of the Sixties, but only what they have been taught about the Sixties by leftist academics, the students are ill-equipped to avoid the typical errors of radicalism, and seem not to realize how stale and predictable their supposedly “innovative” ideas actually are.
And so we come to Harvard senior Sandra Korn’s celebration of the hippie student mau-maus who protested psychology professor Richard Herrnstein’s research about heredity influence on IQ:
When he returned to campus for fall semester 1971, Herrnstein was met by angry student activists. Harvard-Radcliffe Students for a Democratic Society protested his introductory psychology class with a bullhorn and leaflets. They tied up Herrnstein’s lectures with pointed questions about scientific racism. SDS even called for Harvard to fire Herrnstein, along with another of his colleagues, sociologist Christopher Jencks.
This SDS protest at Harvard was after national SDS had already imploded under the pressure of increasing extremism among its leadership clique, an implosion that resulted in the formation of the Weather Underground terrorism cult. The grievances cited by Korn — “a joint history of science and studies of women, gender and sexuality concentrator” — include the predictable feminist recitation of disagreement as victimhood:
Does Government Professor Harvey Mansfield have the legal right to publish a book in which he claims that “to resist rape a woman needs … a certain ladylike modesty?” Probably. Do I think he should do that? No, and I would happily organize with other feminists on campus to stop him from publishing further sexist commentary under the authority of a Harvard faculty position. “Academic freedom” might permit such an offensive view of rape to be published; academic justice would not.
Is “ladylike modesty” an effective means of averting rape? One expects Professor Mansfield would find many who disagree with that view, but what Korn is saying is that “academic justice” would prohibit anyone at the university from disagreeing with feminist ideology about rape, so that in fact “justice” becomes an Orwellian synonym for the silencing of dissent. (Has she read Animal Farm? Nineteen Eighty-Four?)
Korn’s call for neo-Stalinism on campus — one imagines Harvey Mansfield being airbrushed out of old photos and dying with a feminist assassin’s ice-ax buried in his skull – is only shocking to those who have not followed recent trends in academia.
During the early years of the Cold War, as William F. Buckley Jr. documented in God and Man at Yale (1951), elite universities used the “superstition” of academic freedom to protect faculty who, if not objectively pro-Soviet, at least were decidedly biased against Christianity, economic freedom and American patriotism.
Mid-20th-century liberals were willing to defend anti-American faculty, but the anti-American student Left of the 1960s was unwilling to accept liberal toleration and instead staged a series of sit-in protests to impose radical demands on university administrations. Within a couple of decades — by the early 1990s — “political correctness” had become an intimidating force on many American campuses, and another two decades later, the Left now demands even sterner measures to suppress criticism and dissent. Those who witnessed the feminist jihad against Larry Summers at Harvard saw the omens of this totalitarian turn.
No one will be surprised that Sandra Korn is a Marxist lesbian whose activities include the “Student Labor Action Movement,” who names among her interests “socialism, the labor movement … being angry about gender … occupying things,” and who describes the topic of her thesis as “how biologists have tried over and over again to explain gender difference by invoking ‘science.’” She is a cartoon, a stereotype, a cliché of 21st-century student radicalism. Of course, she’s a member of BAGELS (“Harvard’s Queer Jewish Organization“) and, of course, she is an extreme anti-Zionist who is all about “Palestinian solidarity.”
If you accept the premises of the Left’s argument, the syllogism inevitably concludes this way. The triumph of the Left in academia was assured from the moment radicals realized that education could be transformed from a process of teaching facts and skills into a process of indoctrinating the young with certain attitudes. This transformation has been the project of the academic Left for at least the past hundred years, and the beliefs of Sandra Korn — that the “university community” exists primarily for the purpose of opposing “racism, sexism, and heterosexism” — are now so pervasive in the intelligentsia that almost no one at Harvard even questions such an attitude. Never mind teaching history, language, science, or any other actual knowledge. We shall not measure Harvard’s success by how much Latin or Greek their students learn. Rather, Harvard’s success is to be measured by how avidly its students embrace the desired progressive attitudinal orientation.
So thoroughgoing has been this transformation of elite education that there is likely not a single Harvard undergraduate who possesses the necessary knowledge — much less the inclination — to interrogate and critique Sandra Korn’s worldview.
An entire generation of America’s brightest youth have been deliberately and systematically miseducated, so that if there were any Harvard students who disagreed with Sandra Korn — one gets the impression that homosexuality and socialism are now more or less compulsory in Cambridge — none of those dissenters have the intellectual wherewithal to articulate their disagreement.
Sandra Korn’s ignorant emulation of Sixties radicalism is only possible because none of her equally ignorant peers are able to inform her why she is wrong. Is there no one at Harvard who could hand her a copy of Peter Collier and David Horowitz’s Destructive Generation, Thomas Sowell’s The Vision of the Anointed or Daniel Flynn’s A Conservative History of the American Left?
What Sandra Korn proposes as “academic justice,” echoing the totalitarian ethos of Marcuse, is really just advocating as official policy what has long been unofficial practice at Harvard, where veritas has not been welcome for many, many years.
ADDENDUM: The caption under Ms. Korn’s photo — “Feminist socialist lesbian — but I repeat myself” — is perhaps in some sense humorous, but is not actually a joke, and should not be misunderstood by any naive Harvardians. As I have explained elsewhere (e.g., “Taking Feminism Seriously”), I’ve read more feminist literature than has the average Gender Studies major, and I agree with the pioneering leaders of the Women’s Liberation Movement: To be a feminist, one must be a lesbian socialist. Of course, there are socialists who are heterosexuals, and lesbians who are not socialists, but any woman who presumes to call herself a “feminist” must denounce capitalism and renounce the penis.
“Heterosexual feminist” is a mythical paradox and “moderate feminist” is an oxymoron. All real feminists are radical feminists, and all radical feminists are socialist lesbians. Quod erat demonstrandum.