The sad truth about a society that becomes increasingly politicized by the day is that the principal victim is integrity. Thoughtfulness and honesty count for less and less and appearances count for more and more.
Summers, president of Harvard, speaking informally at an economics conference dealing with diversity, suggested that one possible reason for fewer women on science and engineering faculties may be less inherent ability in women to perform at the highest levels of these fields.
Is this possible? Yes. Can you say this at a university? Apparently not. Summers' remarks provoked a furor from many members of the Harvard faculty and now, of course, Harvard has a new task force to recommend procedures for hiring more women.
If truth, rather than politics, is what interests the Harvard faculty, this is what I suggest be done. Convene an inquiry into the proposition that women may not be as genetically disposed to math and science as men. If the result of this inquiry is a conclusion that this might be a possible _ not is the case, but might be possible, which is what Summers suggested _ then the faculty that attacked him is fired. If the inquiry shows that this is not a possibility, then Summers gets fired.
My guess is that Summers would submit to this exercise, but the dissenting faculty members would not. They would not because they know they would lose, and careful courageous inquiry is not what interests them. Their concern is that they maintain political power to advance their preconceived notions about how the world should be.
The first reactions at Harvard were to attack Summers, force an apology and demand politically motivated action. Why wasn't the first reaction to rigorously examine his hypothesis? Isn't this a university? Isn't the point of a university the pursuit of knowledge?
I feel Summers' pain because, as a black conservative, I deal with this sort of thing all the time.
Today my organization sent out a press release saying that reforming Social Security with personal retirement accounts is good for blacks. I received a one-sentence e-mail from the editor of a black newspaper calling me an Uncle Tom.
Clearly facts and analysis are of no interest to this man. He had no questions for me about why I have drawn the conclusions I have. It was just simply clear to him that if I hold this particular view, I must be a turncoat to my race.