Plagiarist Harvard President Resigns. Her Scientific Wrongdoing Was Fine Until a Month Ago
Mixed Feelings about this Affair
A few weeks ago, Harvard President Prof. Claudine Gay was credibly accused of plagiarism.
Now, Dr. Gay is finally resigning:
You would expect me to say something nasty about her and celebrate her resignation.
Instead, I have mixed feelings. In explaining the below, I will try to be as impartial and non-judgmental as I can be - so if you are disappointed that I am not making moral judgments, be aware that it is my intention.
Why do I have mixed feelings?
Her plagiarism was always there. Nobody of importance ever looked into it. Plagiarism was perfectly fine for Harvard University, the branch of science Dr. Gay specializes in, and so on.
The only reason why people looked into her scientific works and her dissertation in search of plagiarism is the Israel/Palestine conflict.
Many students at Harvard took a strong pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel position, demanding “free Palestine from the river to the sea.”
Supporters of Israel, including billionaire alumni, explained that this amounts to antisemitism and to suggesting genocide against Jews.
Subsequent to that, Harvard did not do much about such students, which further disappointed supporters of Israel. Congressional hearings were held:
Despite such protestations, Harvard persevered and declined to fire Dr. Gay over these antisemitism charges. Furthermore, influential faculty members were disappointed that Dr. Gay “condemned antisemitism,” pointing out the complicated history of the conflict:
Somehow, this set some people in motion, who suddenly took interest in Dr. Gay’s scientific background. Indeed, they found plagiarism, which immediately became a focal point of attention for Congress and various other figures.
The Congress rarely cares about plagiarism, except now it did:
Even more accusations of additional acts of plagiarism were leveled:
The accusations of plagiarism are absolutely factual; they do reflect badly on Harvard and the scientific community that Dr. Gay belongs to. And yet, the only reason such accusations surfaced is the culture war accompanying the armed conflict in Israel.
EDIT: The Situation is Even Worse Than I Thought
As our astute reader “SCA” pointed out, accusations of Dr. Gay’s scientific wrongdoing (participating in faking research data) were mentioned over a year ago - and no one cared! Harvard was so enamored with Dr. Gay that it disregarded its policy and ignored the accusations.
I am a Jew. I cannot be impartial to what is happening in Israel, even though I admit to having mixed feelings about this conflict and a desire for all people to whom Israel belongs - that is, the Jews AND the Arabs who live there - to live in harmony. This post is not attempting to influence your thinking regarding that conflict.
Instead, I am trying to point out that bad scientists - and probably there are more bad scientists at Harvard and elsewhere - know that they have a Damocles sword over their heads. They can be canceled over their academic misdeeds due to any political controversy.
I hope that this scandal, as bad as it is, will reduce the amount of plagiarism and bad science - but I am also concerned that no one cares about science being done properly until a political battle involves one of such compromised scientific figures, such as Dr. Gay.
What do you think?