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Woke Harvard’s Not-So Rude Awakening

Professor under PC fire teaches class decrying ‘systemic racism.’

A transgender Harvard student prefaced remarks in a class with “while I don’t believe we should kill all white people” before arguing that a 1960s-era pro-violence black revolutionary’s theories have merit. The course professor then points out to refute the student’s anti-white assertions that the student would probably be killed in communist China for being transgender. You know what comes next. A sexual misconduct Title IX complaint is filed.

“I no longer feel as comfortable speaking up in class or asking questions … it deeply affected my education,” the student, Kai De Jesus, said in the complaint, which was shared with The Harvard Crimson student newspaper.

At a time when the use of “proper gender pronouns” is grounds for heated controversy on campuses across the nation, leave it to Harvard to ramp the silliness up a notch or two.

According to a report on Nov. 23, the university dismissed the complaint. Still, the higher question to ask is what in the world is passing for lofty discourse inside the supposedly hallowed halls of Harvard these days?

Sow Meets Reap

Before feeling any pangs of sympathy for anthropology Professor Arthur Kleinman, consider that the subject material he is pursuing for his class, “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Cares? Reimagining Global Health,” positively begs for the kind of deep-seated racial antagonism displayed by De Jesus. A course description on Harvard’s website states:

“The vulnerabilties (sic) of those most likely to get sick and die from COVID-19 stem from the ongoing effects of systemic racism on racialized subjects, the devaluation of eldercare and precarity of low-paid work under neoliberal forms of governance, and material effects of colonial-era power structures that render health care systems dangerously weak or inaccessible for many communities.”

Frantz Fanon

Frantz Fanon

Based on that summary, it would seem De Jesus had every right to expect that stridently radical views would find a welcome home in Kleinman’s lecture room. “The exchange began with a discussion of 20th-century philosopher Frantz Fanon’s writings, which defend the use of violence and lay out the difficulty of including white people in anti-colonial struggles,” as The Crimson reported about the student-professor conflict.

Fanon was a Marxist French radical of West Indian descent who passionately supported Algerian revolutionaries that employed terrorist attacks against white French civilians as a tactic in their fight for independence. “De Jesus argued Fanon’s theories should not be dismissed outright because, as a transgender woman of color, she had benefited from the exclusion of white people in certain contexts because it made her feel safer.”

Dangerous Minds

A crucial takeaway here is that a Harvard student sees the violent anti-colonialist terminology of the 1960s as applicable to America’s domestic struggles today. The philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre wrote the preface for Fanon’s 1961 book The Wretched of the Earth:

“To shoot down a European is to kill two birds with one stone, to destroy an oppressor and the man he oppresses at the same time: there remains a dead man and a free man.”

This is the authentic language of “anti-colonialism.” Do you really think the students embracing it are going to be satisfied with tearing down statues of Christopher Columbus?

Kleinman said that he felt De Jesus’s comments were nothing more than a “diatribe against whites … It seemed to me for sure this was bordering on hate speech, and I had to intervene.”

Professor Arthur Kleinman

Professor Arthur Kleinman

Unsurprisingly, some of the Harvard undergrads he teaches didn’t see it that way. “Several students in the course said Kleinman’s comment made them uncomfortable, and bordered on hypocrisy because the course bills itself as focused on decolonization and caregiving.”

Predictably, faculty members are scurrying to express their solidarity with the wounded student. “Medical School professor Salmaan Keshavjee, who co-teaches the course with Kleinman and two other professors, called the incident a ‘painful episode,’ but said he believed Kleinman had no intent to harm,” The Crimson reported.

“I know that it pains him that this exchange left any student feeling upset, and he has apologized for it twice now,” Lindsey M. Alexander, “head teaching fellow” for the class, related. “We want to create an inclusive, safe classroom and we took actions that we hoped would do just that.”

Meanwhile, a petition is being circulated around the university demanding a “rigid system of accountability” be applied to Trump administration officials before allowing them to work or speak on campus. “A complete disregard for the truth is a defining feature of many decisions made by this administration,” the petition reads, the Associated Press reports. “That alone should be enough to draw a line.”

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Read more from Joe Schaeffer.

Read More From Joe Schaeffer

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