My appearance on the Lou Dobbs podcast: “I don’t mean to laugh about it, but this is insane. You have somebody who’s a complete failure, who embarrassed the university, who cost them a billion dollars, who gets caught plagiarizing, and they’re going stand with her…. Maybe they think their brand can’t be permanently tarnished because it’s Harvard. Well, you know what? The people who branded Bud Light thought the same thing, and they found out differently.”
I appeared on the Lou Dobbs podcast The Great America Show to talk about the decline of the most elite academic institutions as displayed in the pathetic testimony before Congress of the presidents of Harvard, U. Penn, and MIT.
This is my second time on Lou’s podcast. Having done hundreds of interviews over the years, I appreciate someone with Lou’s easy-going style of interviewing. Some interviewers make it about them, others give the guest the opportunity to shine. Lou is the latter.
Most of the focus was on Harvard, including president Claudine Gay’s plagiarism scandal. (The discussion starts at 5:45 of the audio.)
(If player does not load, click here)
PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT (auto-transcribed, may contain transcription errors)
…. Our guest today is Cornell Law Professor William Jacobson. Professor, I want to say welcome to the Great America Show. It’s great to have you with us. I am sorry that it’s under these circumstances, frankly, Harvard, MIT, Penn, Cornell, the Ivy League is under duress. Without any question now about the subjects you’ve and I have been talking about for some time, and that is antisemitism on the campuses, universities and colleges across this country.
I want to start with your thoughts first about the fact that President of Penn resigned her post, the president of Harvard has received the full support of the Harvard Board, despite charges of not only antisemitism and now plagiarism, suppressing free speech and actually playing a role at least in the ousting of a law professor who was defending Weinstein in his sorted sexual harassment cases. Your thoughts about it all?
It’s really, I think, a reflection of the decline of our elite academic institutions. You see a philosophy, characterized in different ways. You could call it critical race theory. You could call it diversity, equity, and inclusion, you could call it whatever you want, but it is elevating politics over academic substance. It is centering race in the middle of everything, and it has a very fundamentally anti-American flavor to it, anti-capitalist flavor to it.
And unfortunately, in this kind of toxic mix that’s going on in academia, the most radical elements have chosen to single out Jews as the object of their hatred. Something that we know has gone on many times in history. The people who should be the adults in the room, the presidents of universities, have proven that they are not adults when it comes to these matters. And that’s really what we’re seeing. You can’t judge what’s going on now in the narrow scope of the last 30 or 60 days. You really have to view it in the scope of what has happened to academia in the last 20 to 30 years.
You know, I’ve often thought, and I know this is gonna be controversial for some people, but to have academic programs on ethnocentric subjects is to me a dilution of academia. Then to take that to another step and have actually political activist education, whether it be the Kennedy School, whatever it may be, Stanford, whatever it may be, the university instead of the fundamental university subjects that one associates with that of producing, graduating, men and women of true education in the classical sense, it is, I frankly think that it is a crime for these universities to be charging 50 to what, 80, $85,000 a year for the education that’s being provided. Your thoughts?
I think that’s right. I think we are not educating people, at least at these elite institutions. Notice, and other people have commented on this, we don’t see these protest and riots in favor of terrorists at community colleges where students are more likely to actually want to learn something that will help them in their life. We’re seeing them at the most elite institutions, and it’s a complete failure of the system.
We have elevated identity politics over merit. We have elevated equity, meaning equalizing outcomes and manipulating outcomes, over equality where everybody is treated fairly. And so that’s what we’re seeing go on. And it’s really tragic. We’re not graduating the future generations that we need to keep this country strong. We’re graduating people who have been schooled in an ideology of tearing down our society. If you look at all of these ideologies that are creating this toxic mix on campuses, it’s a hatred of our system and a desire to tear us down, because they don’t understand what the consequences of that will be.
But understanding is not really what it’s about. These are essentially what you would see in many cases at a North Korean rally, just people chanting slogans. They don’t even necessarily understand. There’ve been a number of people who’ve interviewed students on campuses chanting from the river to the sea, and they can’t tell you what river and what sea. They’re just mind-numbed chanting of these genocidal doctrines. And so it’s really scary. It’s a time where I hope what has happened the last month and two months on campuses is a massive wake up to our country that what’s happening on campuses is poses a long-term threat to our country.
We’re back with Professor William Jacobson, a professor of law at Cornell. Let’s turn to this to keep it as specific as we can. Your thoughts about a university, any university that had witnessed their president do what Claudine Gay, the president of Harvard University,had done before the hearing in the US Congress, who’s accused of plagiarism, who is accused of constricting, constraining free speech, who is accused of ousting a professor who just happened to defend Harvey Weinstein. What what is your reaction to that and how in the world could any board of trustees, corporate board of any university support that?
Well, it’s hard to understand in any reasonable corporate fiduciary sense. She was a failure in her relatively short term so far as president. And you need a president precisely to deal with times of crisis, such as has happened the last 60 days, and she’s been unable to deal with it. In fact, the dealing she’s had with it have made the situation worse, not better. They’re an embarrassment to Harvard. I’ve read someplace that they’ve lost over a billion dollars in pledge donations because of it. And then it comes out that she legitimately plagiarized in multiple papers other authors. And the Harvard Board in their announcement that they are sticking with her, acknowledged that their review found four instances of lacking attribution in her papers. There are other people who found more. But they don’t feel it was serious enough, and they’re going allow her to issue corrections to her papers.
I mean, this is insane <laugh>, really, it’s… I don’t mean to laugh about it, but this is insane. You have somebody who’s a complete failure, who embarrassed the university, who cost them a billion dollars, who gets caught plagiarizing, and they’re going stand with her.
I think the problem is they’re between a rock and a hard place. I mean, she was appointed because she was a strict adherent and promoter of diversity, equity, and inclusion ideology. A paper leaked out recently that she had written that she was going to push that into every aspect of the university. So the university’s in a hard place if they fire a black woman president who was hired because she’s a devotee of diversity, equity, and inclusion. You can imagine the uproar they’re going to face from the student activists and from the faculty activists.
But if they keep her on, it’s immensely damaging long-term to the brand of Harvard. And maybe they think they’re above it. Maybe they think their brand can’t be permanently tarnished because it’s Harvard. Well, you know what? The people who branded Bud Light thought the same thing, and they found out differently. I think that they are in an extremely difficult position, and I think that this will seriously hurt the Harvard brand, the Ivy League brand.
I think that the nation is waking up to the fact that these elite institutions, and I work at one of them, are doing tremendous damage to the country.
While you were talking, I was thinking back, there’s a book, I think it was in the late seventies called Harvard Hates America. It was such a great, it was a bestseller. It was a big hit at the time. People have probably forgotten it, but Harvard Hates America, and it’s absolutely true. They sneer at ordinary citizens. They consider themselves above. And the way they’re acting now, I think is a perfect example as to DEI and ESG and all of those. ESG is more of a corporate thing, and I think from an investment point of view, it’s nonsense.
But DEI is an academic thing. It’s a campus thing. It’s moved beyond campus, but it’s basically a campus thing. And regardless of whether you’re a Democrat or Republican or regardless of who you support in the Republican primary, what they’re doing in Florida, what Ron DeSantis is doing in Florida, is part of the answer. It is defund these bureaucracies, defund these government salaried bureaucracies who are causing such monumental pain.
We’ve been at my website, and I’ve been screaming for years, that DEI is poisonous. It breaks people into identity groups. It forces them to be treated not as fully human individuals, but as humans who are merely part of a greater group, a group identity. It pits people against each other and it pits people against their country. Get rid of it. It has to be gotten rid of. You can’t tweak it around the edges.
I couldn’t agree with you more. We’re going to take a quick break. We’re talking with Cornell Professor William Jacobson. Stay with us…. We are back with Professor William Jacobson. And professor, just a, a short what, two months ago, Cornell was in the midst of its own controversy. Has there been an improvement? What is the environment now? Has the campus settled down and are you moving to a better path?
Well, it’s certainly not as bad as it was six weeks ago when there was a professor who announced he was exhilarated when he heard of the Hamas attack, and there were student groups chanting from the river to the sea, and Intifada, which is the bloody suicide bombing campaign against Israel. There was a student who appears to have become radicalized while at Cornell, who actually posted threats to shoot up the kosher dining hall, was arrested, charged in federal court. It was a bad scene and a completely incompetent response from the administration that really, they just reacted to pressure from alumni and the media, couldn’t figure out the right thing to do the first time. So it’s not a great situation.
I have zero confidence that the administration is going do anything other than try to wait it out and try to avoid having to take any meaningful action on campus.
They just announced a new policy that, because the presidents who testified in Congress couldn’t say that calling for genocide is against campus policy, they announced a policy that, yes, calling for genocide is against Cornell’s policy. But the way they define genocide is not the standard definition of genocide. The UN, the Holocaust Museum, the United States Congress, they all have definitions of genocide, which do not limit it to the complete eradication of a people. Yet Cornell announces that a call to kill all members of a group, all members of a group, is a call for genocide and will not be tolerated on campus. Well, that’s just a dodge. Nobody defines genocide that way. That’s a subset of genocide and nobody’s calling for that. So they create this fictitious, phony definition of genocide, which is not a standard definition, that they know is not what people call for.
And what they’re doing is they’re trying to do it to avoid having to deal with the problem on campus of people calling for violence against Jews. Because if they don’t call to kill all Jews, then it’s not a call for genocide according to the Cornell Administration, which of course is absurd. That whole thing tells me they are not serious about this.
They’re treating this as a public relations exercise, and they think they can wordsmith their way around it. But I can tell you alumni are very upset. I think parents are very upset. I think students are very upset and Cornell’s just going to try to rope-a-dope it and wait it out and hope we go on winter break, and when everybody comes back in six weeks, it’s all forgotten. I don’t know if that will happen, but I think that’s their strategy.
Is there enough independent thought within the students of Cornell for those students to come back organized and to meet the threat of D-E-I, C-R-T or critical legal theory, whatever you wanna call it, and to take it head on and the administration?
I don’t think the current students will be able, will rise up, so to speak. I think that they feel very bullied. I think they feel that to speak out means they will be targeted. Remember, we have mobs of students running through the campus with bullhorns chanting for violence. I think it’s a lot to ask a sophomore in college to stand up to that. What will happen with future applications in future generations? Harvard will always fill its class and there’ll always be more people who want the name and want the diploma, and don’t care about it. But I do believe we are developing in this country something of a red-blue divide at the university level. And people will have choices.
They can go to the University of Florida or many other universities in red states, public universities, and they’re not going find this level of DEI indoctrination. In fact, it’s being defunded. Or they can go to schools in New York, public universities, or California, and they will be inundated with it, or they can go to private elite colleges where they will be inundated with it. They’re going to have to make choices.
I think just like people vote with their feet moving south, if you look at all the demographic maps showing trends of where people move, it’s all north to south. Nobody’s moving north. And I think you’ll see that in academia. It may take a few years to play itself out. And I don’t dismiss the Ivy League credential being an allure for people, but I think you will see people moving to other locations for academia, for academics, just as you see them moving to other locations for other things in life.
Yeah, I think there was a time when every parent would’ve been very proud to have their kids going off to an Ivy League school. I think now those very same parents would be very proud if those students were going to a school, outh or west, wherever it is necessary to go, that provided a great education and no indoctrination. You get the last word here, professor. Thanks for being with us today.
My last word is this is an opportunity for change. The complete implosion in the public perception of the elite institutions is a chance for change, for the better, to strengthen our country and to strengthen the institutions. Don’t let this moment pass. It’s a moment created by the institutions. They are self-destructing in front of our very eyes. They have enormous hypocrisy. They’re losing credibility, and we shouldn’t let that pass. To use a famous political phrase, don’t let a crisis go to waste. And the crisis on campuses is something we can’t let go to waste. We have to turn it into a better situation, because otherwise it’s just going to get worse….
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.