Whilst serving on a dissertation committee, I gained mighty insight into the halls of academe. My fellow committee members and I were sitting in shocked silence. We had just finished a PhD candidate’s oral defense. The defense was a stunner. The candidate could not answer questions, tackle challenges, or even summarize what he had written.
He was terrific at spouting terms, stringing them together, and concluding circuitously. But mumbo-jumbo hung heavily in the room. One committee member shook his head and observed, “Sometimes I think we take these doctoral students for five to seven years and just beat the common sense right out of them.”
In fact, there are now generations of them, lumbering about the halls of academe, and continuing to spout mumbo-jumbo. Harvard is the leading residence for the mumbling jumbos.
To tackle the issues surrounding Harvard’s international embarrassment in its standards for and treatment of Jewish students, the new acting president created a Presidential Task Force on Combating Antisemitism. The head of the task force is Professor Derek Penslar.
Professor Penslar’s book titles alone suggest that his heart may not be into even-handedness:: “Israeli Historical Revisionism,” “Shylock’s Children: Economics and Jewish Identity in Modern Europe,” and “Colonialism and the Jews.” His books never quite get around to covering, say, anti-Zionism. But he has covered topics such as Israel’s creation of apartheid, grounded in “Jewish Supremacism.”
On what planet was this choice acceptable ? Give us a welder, a butcher, a baker, and throw in a candlestick maker for the climate-change crowd. In short, give us some common sense.
In the Neil Simon comedy, “Seems Like Old Times,” a character proposes a ridiculous solution for stopping nightmareish headlines. Upon hearing the insane suggestion the victim character responds, ” We’ll make the cover of the National Enquirer!”
Yes, the magazine that relies on lack of common sense for readership and defies the laws of defamation would worry about running a story that Harvard’s anti-Semitic task force is headed by a professor whose writings highlight the problems with Israel and the Jews.