Harvard Hates America won John Le Boutillier a seat in Congress in 1980 as a Republican from Long Island. This Harvard Business School graduate’s 1978 book pilloried his alma mater for its elitist contempt for ordinary Americans.
“The message of Harvard Hates America was that I encountered at Harvard a sense of inbred superiority where many people—teachers, administrators, and students—thought they were smarter and therefore better than ‘regular’ American people,” LeBoutillier wrote in The Hill in 2017. He described arrogance coupled with hypocrisy, as the Harvard dons who advocated Marxist egalitarianism in the classroom led lives of extraordinary wealth and privilege.
“I had come to realize that much of the teaching at Harvard was a subtle indoctrination, which rewarded the regurgitation of leftist mantras and punished those of us who refused to buckle to the Left,” LeBoutillier wrote in a recent article for The Messenger.
It is now abundantly clear, 46 years later, that LeBoutillier’s indictment of Harvard was correct. It is against this backdrop that the recent resignation of Harvard’s President Claudine Gay must be set.
Gay’s resignation came about as a result of a peculiarly narrow congressional investigation; one focused on whether administrators at Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania had failed to condemn “anti-Semitism” in the wake of Gaza and whether “calling for the genocide of Jews” is a violation of those schools’ speech and conduct codes.
The narrow focus of this investigation is a serious mistake. A more thorough investigation into all the problems Harvard and other elite colleges cause the American people is needed. The witches’ brew of identity politics, financial chicanery, and elite exploitation distilled at America’s most famous school has dramatically changed our country for the worse.
The great bulk of American education is now little more than a vehicle for undermining a belief—still widespread in 1978—in the essential greatness of Western civilization in general and as a means of degrading whites, males, and Christians in particular. These poisonous academic ideas manifested with crystal clarity in 2020 through the pandemic of violence that followed the death of George Floyd in police custody. Antinomian revels and iconoclastic frenzies begat more mayhem, even murder. Those sitting in the ivory towers of Harvard viewed with indulgence all of this suffering inflicted on the general public in the name of social justice.
Of course, Americans felt the ill effects of the greed, hypocrisy, and arrogance fostered in LeBoutillier’s Harvard long before the academic ideas of racial and identity politics were unleashed on their streets. The first assault of the Ivy League on the American public was the financial sector’s offshoring attack on American manufacturing, resulting in shuttered factories and decaying towns all across America. The people who shuttered those factories did so without any qualms. After all, wasn’t America a “meritocracy?” Weren’t those Harvard MBAs behind this hollowing out of America’s industrial base getting all that money because they deserved it?
Since “education” was the proffered remedy for deindustrialization, the academy also turned itself into an archipelago of affluence, raising tuition at a clip far outpacing inflation while providing very little in return. At most colleges, students scrape, beg, and borrow to pay tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars for a diploma signifying the educational equivalent of what was once available for free in 1960s-era public high schools. An Ivy League diploma signifies substantially the same thing, with this difference: since admission to an Ivy generally requires a stellar SAT, those graduates typically have high IQs, and employers know that Ivy League kids are smart. But the kids also graduate knowing virtually nothing about the real world or indeed anything outside a tiny sphere of competence.
Congress’s investigation into Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania should have focused on the broader problem of the elitist, anti-American ideologies inculcated at these schools, with the aim of cutting off their federal funding. Instead, it dealt only with a handful of ugly attacks by students (often foreigners) supporting Hamas on those suspected of supporting Israel.
Indeed, if the investigation leads to the creation of a new class of “special snowflakes” under campus speech codes and pushes America further into the Gaza war, it will make our problems worse. America needs fewer restrictions on political speech and fewer soldiers in the Mideast. Let’s go after the criminal thugs who threaten or inflict physical violence on American Jews and forget the moral panic about “anti-Semitism” at institutions where American Jews have long enjoyed the institutional heft to defend their interests and still do. ◆