Summers Off

Summers Off

Summers Off

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Feb. 22 2006 4:41 PM

Summers Off

Bloggers grumble and rejoice at the resignation of Harvard president Larry Summers. They also disapprove of Austria's imprisonment of British historian David Irving and mourn the false-positive reports of Ratko Mladic's capture.

Summers off: Embattled Harvard University President Larry Summers resigned yesterday, more than a year after his infamous claim that women were underrepresented in the sciences due to sociobiological—as opposed to sociopolitical—constraints. The move pre-empted a no-confidence vote by the Harvard arts and sciences faculty next Tuesday, but it only incited the chattering cyber-classes.

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Robert KC Johnson at George Mason University's Cliopatria phlegmatically examines the full executive span of the Summers of Discontent: "The original draft of the 2005 faculty resolution listed three specific events justifying a motion of no confidence: the president's remarks about women in science; his handling of the Cornel West matter; and his denunciation of a proposed faculty resolution urging Harvard to divest from firms doing business in Israel. ... Of the three, the women-in-science issue most clearly demonstrated Summers' political and interpersonal failings."

Conservative blogger Paxalles is incredulous: "At a time when the US is decrying our lack of standards and slippage on the world education scene, Summers has been castiaged by the left-wing PC fascists on the faculty who live in a more rigid bubble than the one that they accuse the rest of the world of existing in and forego intellectual rigor for the tunnel vision and phony narrow diversity and divi-culturalism." Summersville bills itself as an "open forum for debate on President Larry Summers," and poster Elise Stefanik has got little truck with Harvard's putsch professoriat: "The idea that faculty members can dictate the future of the management of Harvard University has now set the precedent that faculty members are responsible for the visioning, and execution of planning for all universities, as Harvard is, a model of modern education. That Summers was forced out by a minority of the greater university's faculty is not only a bad precedent for Harvard, but a dangerous precedent for educational institutions as a whole."

AcademicElephant at righty elephants in academia has already got the spread covered on Summers' successor: "Shall we start making book? ... I have a candidate who will have no worries about accepting this position. In fact, I bet he's been waiting for just this turn of events. You heard it here first ... Al Gore."

Read more about Larry Summers' Ivy League high-tailing.

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Bars of David: British historian David Irving, who's pretty forthright about wishing World War II had come out the other way around, was sentenced yesterday by an Austrian court to three years in prison on charges of "Holocaust denial," which date back to speeches he made in the country in 1989. Very few in the blogosphere have much love for either Irving or for what they see as a decidedly Pyrrhic victory for historical truth.

Psychotherapist blogger at Sigmund, Carl and Alfred wonders why foul-mouthed Islamists receive no commensurate tribute of free speech martyrdom: "Why does Holocaust denial merit such intense debate? When Abu Hamza, firebrand cleric of the Finsbury Park Mosque, was convicted of inciting murder and race hate, there was no outcry about his right to free speech. There was no self important posturing and subsequent lectures about the 'rights' of Abu Hamza and the sanctity of free expression. ... The knee jerk response to David Irving's conviction, says a lot more about us than it does about him. We want to make the Holocaust go away, because we were complicit in it."

David T at the democratic socialist English blog Harry's Place argues that the most virulent exponents of anti-Semitism not only don't doubt the Nazi extirpation of Europe's Jews, they lament that Hitler's project didn't go further. Whereas it is Holocaust deniers who implicitly acknowledge the enormity of the Shoah in saying, "No, it never happened"—as it is "both strange and futile ... to focus on superficial manifestations of fascist culture—uniforms, symbols, theories—as a proxy for taking on fascism itself. It is also ironic that Irving—whose reputation was totally destroyed as a result of his own free-speech attacking defamation action—should now be given a last gasp of the oxygen of publicity as a result of this facile prosecution."

Read more about David Irving's conviction.

Uncaged Ratko: News of the impending arrest of wanted Serbian war criminal Ratko Mladic caused an international stir last night. The story turned out to be false, and the special prosecutor at The Hague has issued an official nix, which nevertheless repeated the now decade-old demand to bring the overseer of Srebenican genocide to justice. Too bad he hasn't already been collared, say most bloggers.

John Nadler at Contemporary Nomad, who believes Mladic is under the care and protection of "Serbian spooks" (state security), asks, "What do we make of last night's drama? It is likely the same tired charade the Serbian and Republika Srpska governments conduct every few years to prove to the nagging prosecutors at The Hague that they are doing their best: 'We got him ... oh damn, he slipped through our fingers.'"

Dutch law student Michael Galien at Liberty and Justice quotes a report that said Mladic would turn himself in, provided those "closest to him" are financially cared for: "He seems to be willing to go on trial, as long as the Serbian government cares for them closest to Mladic. ... What does this closest to Mladic mean? Who are they? Are we talking about his family, or are we talking about the members of his private little army who, once, were soldiers who fought and killed for Mladic. If it's the second option these people are, just like Mladic, co-responsible for genocide."

Read more about Ratko Mladic's non-nabbing.