Democrat mega-donor Penny Pritzker serves as the Board Chair for Harvard University.
With the news of the resignation of Harvard President Claudine Gay, billionaire Bill Ackman has called on Pritzker and Harvard’s entire board to resign.
He criticized the decision by Pritzker and the board to back Gay despite her disastrous testimony in front of the House Education Committee, where she failed to condemn students on campus calling for the genocide of Jews, as well as nearly 50 allegations of plagiarism against her.
Ackman wrote a lengthy post on X Ackman discussing the university’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion movement and calling for a new board to be selected “comprised of the most impressive, high integrity, intellectually and politically diverse” people.
Martin Luther King’s most famous words are instructive:
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
But here we are in 2024, being asked and in some cases required to use skin color to effect outcomes in admissions (recently deemed illegal by the Supreme Court), in business (likely illegal yet it happens nonetheless) and in government (also I believe in most cases to be illegal, except apparently in government contracting), rather than the content of one’s character. As such, a meritocracy is an anathema to the DEI movement. DEI is inherently a racist and illegal movement in its implementation even if it purports to work on behalf of the so-called oppressed.
And DEI’s definition of oppressed is fundamentally flawed.
I have always believed that the most fortunate should help the least fortunate, and that our system should be designed in such a way as to maximize the size of the overall pie so that it will enable us to provide an economic system which can offer quality of life, education, housing, and healthcare for all.
America is a rich country and we have made massive progress over the decades toward achieving this goal, but we obviously have much more work to do. Steps taken on the path to socialism – another word for an equality of outcome system – will reverse this progress and ultimately impoverish us all. We have seen this movie many times.
Having a darker skin color, a less common sexual identity, and/or being a woman doesn’t make one necessarily oppressed or even disadvantaged. While slavery remains a permanent stain on our country’s history – a fact which is used by DEI to label white people as oppressors – it doesn’t therefore hold that all white people generations after the abolishment of slavery should be held responsible for its evils. Similarly, the fact that Columbus discovered America doesn’t make all modern-day Italians colonialists.
An ideology that portrays a bicameral world of oppressors and the oppressed based principally on race or sexual identity is a fundamentally racist ideology that will likely lead to more racism rather than less. A system where one obtains advantages by virtue of one’s skin color is a racist system, and one that will generate resentment and anger among the un-advantaged who will direct their anger at the favored groups.
The country has seen burgeoning resentment and anger grow materially over the last few years, and the DEI movement is an important contributor to our growing divisiveness. Resentment is one of the most important drivers of racism. And it is the lack of equity, i.e, fairness, in how DEI operates, that contributes to this resentment.
I was accused of being a racist from the President of the NAACP among others when I posted on @X that I had learned that the Harvard President search process excluded candidates that did not meet the DEI criteria. I didn’t say that former President Gay was hired because she was a black woman. I simply said that I had heard that the search process by its design excluded a large percentage of potential candidates due to the DEI limitations. My statement was not a racist one. It was simply the empirical truth about the Harvard search process that led to Gay’s hiring.
As to what should happen next, Ackman says,
The Corporation Board should not remain in their seats protected by the unusual governance structure which enabled them to obtain their seats.
The Board Chair, Penny Pritzker, should resign along with the other members of the board who led the campaign to keep Claudine Gay, orchestrated the strategy to threaten the media, bypassed the process for evaluating plagiarism, and otherwise greatly contributed to the damage that has been done. Then new Corporation board members should be identified who bring true diversity, viewpoint and otherwise, to the board.
The Board should not be principally comprised of individuals who share the same politics and views about DEI. The new board members should be chosen in a transparent process with the assistance of the 30-person Board of Overseers. There is no reason the Harvard board of 12 independent trustees cannot be comprised of the most impressive, high integrity, intellectually and politically diverse members of our country and globe. We have plenty of remarkable people to choose from, and the job of being a director just got much more interesting and important. It is no longer, nor should it ever have been, an honorary and highly political sinecure.
The ODEIB should be shut down, and the staff should be terminated. The ODEIB has already taken down much of the ideology and strategies that were on its website when I and others raised concerns about how the office operates and who it does and does not represent. Taking down portions of the website does not address the fundamentally flawed and racist ideology of this office, and calls into further question the ODEIB’s legitimacy.
In light of today’s news, I thought I would try to take a step back and provide perspective on what this is really all about.
I first became concerned about @Harvard when 34 Harvard student organizations, early on the morning of October 8th before Israel had taken any military…
— Bill Ackman (@BillAckman) January 3, 2024