Yes, Harvard Professor Really Would Like To Secede

The news about Harvard never stops. Jay Greene wrote last week on Harvard professor Howard Gardner’s hopes of secession. Gardner’s words, in the Harvard alumni magazine, were:

The right wing isn’t just taking over the country, it’s shanghaiing all our values. If there’s a Republican administration after the next election, I would join in efforts for some sort of secession. It’s not the same country anymore.

Jay suggested, pretty reasonably, that these sentiments were unpatriotic. He’s just alerted us to follow-up on Gardner’s point on Richard Bradley’s blog Shots In The Dark. A reader starts the thread off suggesting that criticism of “allegiance” sidestepped the substantive point, complaining that “Instead this empty talk about ‘allegiance’ and grumbling about seditiousness — and an implicit concession that the ‘shanghaiing’ charge sticks. Pathetic.”

Bradley then weighed in:

Yes, I agree. To be fair, though, I think that Professor Gardner opened the door with the word “secession.” It seemed a casual remark, a manifestation of frustration, but clearly these things are watched by people looking for Harvard bias.

Merely a casual remark! But no.. Howard Gardner himself appeared on the thread to clarify (it’s not certain that it is Gardner, but it’s also unclear why anyone would want to masquerade as him on a blog):

Re my suggestion that if present trends continue, I’d join in a consideration of some sort of seccession: This was a comment spoken to reporter Christopher Reed from the Harvard Magazine who was writing a very short article about my work. (By the way, anyone who reads the Harvard Magazine regularly knows that it is anything but a ‘house organ’-consider its critical coverage of the Summers’ era).

I am surprised, though not distressed, that my remark occasioned a critique of The National Review and considerable discussion on this blog. A friend commented the other day that the Bush administration has caused harm all over the world but the most harm has been done to the United States that many of us have loved and valued. I don’t know that the United States can survive another 4 or 8 years of administrations that do not distance themselves from the foreign adventures and domestic perversions of the last 7 years. And so, I am open to the possibility of some kind of movement that will seek to re-establish the United States, if possible as a single nation, if not, as a separate entity.
Howard Gardner

As Greene commented originally:

There was a time when Harvard stood for the Union. Almost 600 of its sons fought for the North in the Civil War, nearly one-quarter of whom gave their lives. Only the names of those Union dead are inscribed in the transept of Memorial Hall; the smaller number of Harvard affiliates who died for the cause of secession were not similarly honored.

Things have changed. What’s more unpatriotic – calling for secession, or criticizing someone who advocates it? I’m sure the Harvard faculty will come up with a deft answer.

Anthony Paletta

Anthony Paletta is a freelance writer.

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