There is a building campaign going on at Harvard to lift the degrees of Trump officials and allies, including White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-TX). This is not the only such effort to get revenge on blacklisted harassment campaign officials against Trump officials. In fact, there was previously a call to ban former Trump officials from being on the Harvard campus. Recently Rep. Elise Stefanik was removed from a senior board at Harvard for questioning President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Some of us fear that the Capitol uprising is now being used by many to accelerate crackdown on freedom of expression in our locations.
Revocation of financial statements would result in immediate and likely successful legal challenges. I cannot imagine a court that would allow such a lawsuit on this basis.
More importantly, it’s wrong. It uses degrees as a means of political expression and retaliation. Just declaring such numbers to be “violent actors” does not change the fact that the university would act in a crude political manner. It would send the message that any degree is subject to the changing political winds of a university and that obtaining a degree is temporary and can be revoked by majority demand.
The main basis for the action is to support the contestation of votes in Congress. This challenge was posed under federal law and was repeatedly posed by Democratic members without such retaliation campaigns or even accusations. From the beginning I spoke out against the contestation of the votes and within a few days after the election I discovered that there was no evidence of systemic fraud in the elections. I also claimed within a few days that Joe Biden was our President-elect. Therefore, I basically did not agree with these people. Efforts to seek such retaliation not only fuel our divisions, but are part of an expanded campaign against freedom of expression.
The petition says:
“A Harvard degree is a privilege, not a right. Harvard had no concerns over Revocation of admission offers to students for racist activities Online that did not reflect the university’s values. But teenager is to be held accountable easy. Harvard should be willing to hold adult insurgents by the same standards. “
The statement is terrifying. There is a big and obvious difference between withdrawing an admission offer and withdrawing an earned degree. One is an admission offer and the other is a vested degree. One action is prospective and the other is retrospective. The link is tied to the decision to revoke Parkland shooting survivor Kyle Kashuv’s license over alleged racist comments posted on social media two years earlier. The Harvard Crimson reports that ten such offers have been withdrawn via such social media postings.
Most worryingly, faculty members at Harvard and other schools have banded together to blacklist and retaliate against those who supported or served the Trump administration. These efforts are fueled by the rhetoric of figures like MSNBC’s Joy Reid, who called for the “debaathification” of the Republican Party, and CNN’s Don Lemon, who insist that Trump voters as a group are supporters of the Nazis and the KKK. This language tries to label the votes of nearly half of voters as virtual hate speech or extremism. The same call is now being heard on campus for the purge of those believed to be complicit in the Trump administration. That’s rude. It is opportunism to use this tragedy to settle points and clean up opposing voices. The alternative is freedom of speech. We can continue to engage in civil and respectful dialogue – exactly the opposite of what happened on January 6th. Universities could play a crucial role in this dialogue, but it will require a trust in freedom of speech and in ourselves which is diminishing day by day.