University professors often bristle at the suggestion that they are anything but fair and balanced. Conservatives, they say, can't play the grievance card because even if professors trend liberal, all views are welcome on campus.
Of course, in recent months, there have been a number of examples of violence greeting conservatives speaking on campus. Put aside Milo Yiannopoulos' deliberate provocations. Serious and thoughtful scholars such as Charles Murray and Laura Kipnis have been confronted with disruption and violence on their periodic campus visits, while conservative statesmen such as Condoleezza Rice and Henry Kissinger have been disinvited or forced to demur. (The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education maintains a disinvitation database here.)
But, at elite universities, do all arguments on complex and controversial issues get a fair hearing? Are students — some of whom now pay $250,000 in tuition and fees over the course of their college career — being well-served and having their intellectual horizons stretched?
Not so at Harvard University, it seems.
On Monday, its Kennedy School will host a panel entitled, "Perspectives on Foreign Policy," moderated by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.
The four panelists are: Obama administration Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Obama administration U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, Obama administration Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, and Obama administration Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.
It seems at Harvard that racial and gender diversity are the end-all and be-all defining perspectives, but there is no quarter given to ideological diversity. Whereas 34 years ago, intellectuals and academics roundly criticized James Watt, Ronald Reagan's secretary of the Interior, for describing the diversity of Reagan's U.S. Commission on Fair Market Value Policy for Federal Coal Leasing by quipping, "We have every kind of mix you can have. I have a black, I have a woman, two Jews and a cripple," his logic has become the celebrated norm on elite campuses.
There are real and serious foreign policy debates out there: Congress will soon renew its debate as to the merits of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the so-called Iran nuclear deal. The 2003 Iraq War and the 2011 unilateral withdrawal remain deeply debated. So too is U.S. policy toward Cuba, North Korea, and China. Even if some officials seek to shut down questions with regard to the science surrounding climate change, there is room for debate about the policy with which the U.S. government should address it. The same holds true with regard to immigration and nuclear policy. Nor are debates limited to crises. No one fears war or calamity with regard to Brexit, but it is still a subject of heated debate.
Alas, Harvard's concept of sharing multiple perspectives seems to ignore such basic issues. It seems remarkable that at a school as large as Harvard, with resources greater than many small countries, it could not find a single non-Obama administration voice, let alone a veteran from a Republican administration to challenge the core assumptions held by some of President Barack Obama's top foreign policy aides.
But then again, Harvard has become the archetypical 21st-century university.
Michael Rubin (@Mrubin1971) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official.
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