Streetwise Professor

January 5, 2024

The Fall of Claudine Gay: Turning Questions of Fact Into Matters of Motive

Filed under: Politics — cpirrong @ 1:00 pm

Claudine Gay has resigned as president of Harvard. Claudine, we hardly knew ye!

Well, we did, actually, and all too well. And for those who are slow on the uptake her NYT cri de coeure proves who she is without a doubt: a dishonest dealer from the race card and victimhood card decks. Which only puts paid as to why she got the job in the first place despite a thin gruel CV.

Gay admits to “mistakes” and “errors” which she claims she addressed by “promptly [requesting] corrections from the journals in which the flagged articles were published.”

Oh, really? Was she previously unaware of her copying, and only requested corrections when found out?: such ignorance would only raise a huge host of other issues. And more substantively. She only requested corrections on the articles initially identified: subsequently many further instances have been flagged. Why didn’t she proactively (a) reveal these instances when the earlier ones were identified, and (b) request corrections on those as well.

No. Claudine Gay attempted a “modified, limited hangout.” Worked out about as well for her as it did for Nixon.

Subsequently other serious allegations have surfaced, notably regarding various data abuses in her published research. When queried about these some time back, she refused to supply her data to those questioning her–a clear ref flag. And you wonder about why there is a replication crisis?

I strongly suspect that Harvard realized that there was fire producing this smoke, and that such infractions couldn’t be semantically obfuscated with argle bargle like using “some material duplicated other scholars’ language, without proper attribution” rather than the direct and accurate single word “plagiarism.” So . . . adios! Claudine.

As many have noted, this won’t actually change anything. Gay’s rise to the pinnacle of academia is but a symptom of the deeper rot in these institutions, and her departure will not affect that rot one iota. Indeed, DEI is a hill academia will die on: Gay was merely a casualty in the battle.

The frenzied response not just in academia but among media sycophants reveals a complete lack of remorse, or even serious retrospection. Operating on the theory that the best defense is a good offense, myriad academics (especially at “elite” schools) and journalistic lackeys have directed their furious fire at those (like Christopher Rufo) who had the temerity to open Gay’s closet and rattle the skeletons it contains.

This is an example of the classic leftist/Marxist tactic of turning every question of fact into an issue of motive.

In reality, the truth of a statement or claim is independent of who makes it. But we know that the postmodern, progressive, crit theory types who infest academia don’t believe in truth. To them, it’s all about power.

And that is the core of the rot. The defense of Gay shows that that rot survives her defenestration.

The competition is stiff, but the AP wins the grand prize in the ad hominem attack-defense contest. In reacting to Rufo’s celebratory tweet, the AP retched up–I mean wrote:

On X, formerly Twitter, he wrote “SCALPED,” as if Gay was a trophy of violence, invoking a gruesome practice taken up by white colonists who sought to eradicate Native Americans.

In its never-ending campaign to racialize everything, and specifically to blame whitey for every ill in the world, the left digs, hits the bottom, and keeps digging.

They could have made their point by putting a period after “as if Gay was a trophy of violence.” As tendentious as that would have been, the AP felt obliged to inject yet another–and despicable–gratuitous racial attack.

And it reveals yet again the utter dishonesty and contempt for truth that infests almost all leftist rhetorical.

The statement’s dishonesty is revealed by its slipperiness. “Taken up by white colonists.” Taken up from whom? Native Americans (“Indians”) perhaps? Well, of course.

But the AP then insinuates that the practice was taken up as a part of a campaign of genocide. Whether or not such a deliberate campaign of eradication existed at all, and among “white colonists” generally, linking it to scalping suggests that it was an integral component of that campaign. As if that matters fuck all in the issue of Claudine Gay. It is just another wave of the racialist bloody shirt as an attempt to demonize her critics as inveterate racists and white supremacists whose criticisms are therefore beyond the pale.

After getting ratioed out the wazoo, the AP stealthily added that scalping “was used by some tribes against their enemies.” 1. Who knew? 2. Were those enemies “white colonists”? Would that make it OK?

Of course scalping was overwhelmingly a “gruesome” (hey–the AP agrees) practice engaged in first and foremost by Native Americans of virtually all tribes against all their enemies of all races.

Now, it was not exclusively an Indian practice. Some whites (and blacks) employed it as well. Crow Killer Johnson (lionized in a very different time in a movie starring Robert Redford) was notorious for taking and keeping the scalps of Crows and Blackfeet. Though that might have been the least objectionable of his desecrations: he was also known as Liver Eater Johnson, and not because he found elk and bison livers to be a delicacy.

Confederate guerrillas in Missouri, such as “Bloody Bill” Anderson and George Todd also took scalps of their Yankee enemies, both white and black.

But these were the exceptions. The rule was that scalping (and other forms of trophy taking and desecration of the dead) was a nigh universal practice among American tribes.

I have something of a personal interest in this. My GGGGGF Abel Sherman (I might be off by a G there) was infamously killed and scalped by a Delaware Indian named Silveheels in 1794 (supposedly the last white “colonist” killed by Indians in Washington County, OH). His tombstone reads “Here lyes the body of Abel Sherman who fell by the hand of the savage on the 15th of August 1794, and in the 50th year of his age.”

The hand of the savage! Where are the smelling salts?

Abel’s 18th century tombstone is preserved in the Cmapus Martius Museum in Marietta, Ohio. (At least, I think he hasn’t been canceled yet):

The details of his death and scalping, and the identity of the perp, are very well documented. His scalped body was found in the woods near what is now called Dead Man’s Creek. His long hunting shirt contained mayapples that he was apparently collecting when ambushed. His musket was found concealed in a hollow log.

As for the perp, some months later Silverheels wandered into a logging camp, and sitting around the fire after a few tugs from the jug, related his exploits during the late war. Among them, coming across an old white man picking mayapples, whom he slew and scalped, and then deposited the man’s musket in a hollow log.

Unbeknownst to Silverheels, one of the loggers in his audience was Abel Sherman’s son, who of course knew all these details. Silverheels was found shot dead shortly afterwards. Connect those dots.

There is a way to implicate white colonists here though. Silverheels bragged that the British in Detroit–who paid for scalps of American settlers–paid double the normal price for Abel’s because the old man had a double crown: Silverheels cut the scalp in half, each half with a crown, and sold the pieces to the British. So I guess the AP is right. Scalping was a gruesome practice taken up by white colonists–at least by proxy!

The point of this long digression–and it does have a point!–is to illustrate the fundamental dishonesty of the left, and in particular their utter disregard for the truth, and their willingness to distort realities in order to construct racist narratives that they use to club those who dare to challenge their racialist–and racist–policies. At a time when such inflammatory tactics need to be toned down, and indeed eliminated, the left turns them up to 11.

And that’s why Claudine Gray’s fate is all but irrelevant to the fate of American academia, or political discourse in America. She is merely an illustration of the rejection of merit and truth in favor of “critical” racialist narratives and politics, and the reaction to her demise demonstrates beyond cavil how viciously her ilk will fight to defend them.

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  1. You say that as if C. Gay’s career has ended. In fact, she was only stripped of her “college president” position, but remains at Harvard and will continue to “teach” (as in “brainwash”) there.
    Their fundamental dishonesty in discourse is direct consequence of post-modern theory – truth is whatever card sharp’s trick we employ in serving our purpose. It’s not just in academia, the rot is on in corporations and small businesses, and success of anyone in exec or managerial position is measured how well they (plural) can construct their demagogy. there are courses in “storytelling”, nobody is even hiding it!

    Comment by T — January 5, 2024 @ 1:49 pm

  2. Al Sharpton led a group protesting the resignation of Claudine Gay, in defense of a plagiarizer and equivocating defender of Jew-hatred.

    Sharpton’s support of Gay is especially ironic because he incited the only pogrom against Jews to ever occur on American soil — the Crown Heights riot.

    Comment by Pat Frank — January 5, 2024 @ 1:51 pm

  3. American academic history.
    Wicked colonists committed genocide against the natives but faced with a labour shortage imported African slaves.
    (You’re the economist, prof.)
    Until Pasteur – who faced some pushback for his germ theory – no one knew what caused infectious disease. Yet wicked old whitey was deliberately selling smallpox infected blankets to the noble savages two centuries earlier.
    (Anyone with an electron microscope might care to comment.)
    Having spent a fortune on the Royal Navy’s West Africa station, the British realised that the captured Africans were being slaughtered when they couldn’t be sold. Britain founded Lagos as a forward operating base to try to suppress the trade on land as well as at sea.
    There will be other canards from the left coming soon. But if it quacks like a duck…

    Comment by philip — January 5, 2024 @ 4:56 pm

  4. Common practice to collect some sort of head-associated trophy after a battle, yes? Hunters adorn their lodges with the heads of the beasts they’ve slain.

    Common practice to say that someone who has brought down an opponent has ‘taken a scalp’. In sport especially, yes?

    There’s also the usefulness of the head and related parts for keeping a tally. The samurai claimed glory at the end of a battle by having their pages collect and display the heads of all those other lords they had sent on to the next life. And how was Lieutenant Calley supposed to get a promotion if he couldn’t prove he was meeting/exceeding his quota?

    Nasty business but it is deep in our nature, for some reason.

    Rufo might have been better off claiming a ‘feather in his cap’.

    ‘At a time when such inflammatory tactics need to be toned down, and indeed eliminated, the left turns them up to 11.’

    Racial disharmony (dissonance?) is what puts bread on their tables. Demand is so strong that it outstrips, and so has to manufacture, its own supply. And look how it pays! There’s really no limit to how far a person can go, and how much money she can rake in – all it requires is that she forget that her parents raised her to be a decent human being.

    Thank Christ for karma.

    Comment by Ex-Global Super-Regulator on Lunch Break — January 6, 2024 @ 4:20 pm

  5. “Silverheels bragged that the British in Detroit–who paid for scalps of American settlers–paid double the normal price for Abel’s because the old man had a double crown”

    Market incentives! Your GGGGGGF died in a noble cause – capitalism, the free market and private (Silverheels) initiative and ingenuity (two scalps for the price of one (dead man): the first ever TWOFER in North America). We should celebrate Silverheels!

    Comment by Simple Simon — January 7, 2024 @ 12:24 pm

  6. @ Simple Simon

    ‘Username checks out’

    Comment by Ex-Global Super-Regulator on Lunch Break — January 7, 2024 @ 6:49 pm

  7. The guy who played Tonto on the old Lone Ranger series was named Jay Silverheels. A distant relation of your 18th century Delaware scalper, possibly?

    Jay was a Canadian and Mohawk tribe member. Bio. Evidently an outstanding athlete.

    Comment by Pat Frank — January 8, 2024 @ 10:59 am

  8. @Pat Frank–No apparent relation to the killer of my relation.

    Comment by cpirrong — January 9, 2024 @ 11:53 am

  9. @Pat Frank–Abel’s assassin was a Delaware. Ironically, the Delawares had had the crap kicked of them by the Iroquois and the Susquehannocks. And in a connection ripped from the headlines (namely the apparently abortive attempt of the NPS to remove a statue of William Penn from Welcome Park in Philadelphia, and to replace it with new displays emphasizing the Indian heritage of Philadelphia, and notably the Delaware heritage), the move of the Delawares (“Lenape”) to Ohio was the end result of treaties they negotiated with Penn.

    Comment by cpirrong — January 9, 2024 @ 12:02 pm

  10. @9 Craig — it’s amazing how the overwhelming history of murderous colonialism by Indian tribes never breaches the mind of progs.

    My response to prog. criticism of the US is always a show-stopper: who’s done better?

    Comment by Pat Frank — January 9, 2024 @ 12:48 pm

  11. @Pat Frank–Well, who did better doesn’t matter, you see. People 2 or 3 centuries ago didn’t live up to prog standards of righteousness, so they are evil.

    Re murderous colonialism–don’t get me started. I once caused some Sioux activist a total meltdown by asking who lived in the sacred Black Hills before the Sioux arrived (in the 19th century), and why they left. And then I pointed out that the Sioux had been ejected from Wisconsin and Minnesota by the Ojibwa.

    The other mind-melter is to ask “how was it that Indians were such great warriors at the time of their first contact with whites? Who were they fighting before that to hone their warrior skills?”

    Comment by cpirrong — January 9, 2024 @ 5:04 pm

  12. @11 Craig — not only that, but there’s now good evidence of human occupation in North America as early as 23000 BCE. Which means the -12ka Clovis people colonized an occupied continent.

    Native Americans were not native Americans.

    Comment by Pat Frank — January 10, 2024 @ 12:51 am

  13. Pat, let’s just call them from now on “previous occupiers”

    Comment by T — January 10, 2024 @ 10:04 am

  14. Scalps – pah! In our history lessons in primary school we learnt that our ancestors had been head-hunters. (Which ancestors I’m not sure – Bronze Age, Iron Age, …)

    Comment by dearieme — February 3, 2024 @ 1:55 pm

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