Tuesday, January 19, 2021 : By Nathan Skates
Harvard University students are petitioning the school to revoke the degrees of Trump officials and any other graduates who questioned the legitimacy of the election. Recently, students attempted a petition to have all Trump officials banned from campus.
Students and alumni from Harvard University have petitioned to revoke the degrees of graduates who spread “disinformation” about the results of the election, claiming they incited an insurrection. This includes “all who have used their platforms to deny the validity of the presidential election.” The petition says that this is not about right versus left, as both should be heard, but about holding those accountable who incited an “insurrection.”
The petition, authored by four students at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, is entitled “Revoke their Degrees.” The petition calls for the university to “take a stand for representative democracy and against violent white supremacy” by revoking the diplomas of anyone who spread “disinformation” about the election.
The petition specifically names Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, and (former) White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. The petition cites Crenshaw’s support of the Texas lawsuit that challenged last-minute unconstitutional changes to election procedures by election officials, Cruz’s claims of fraud and objection to election certification, and McEnany for “dutifully” denying “the validity of the election.”
“Harvard must revoke the degrees of alumni whose incendiary language and subversion of democratic processes — rooted in a history of white supremacist voter suppression — incited the violent insurrection on January 6. This includes all who have used their platforms to deny the validity of the presidential election. They do not and should not represent a university committed to ‘strengthening democracy’ and ‘the advancement of justice.”
The petition claims that our country cannot recover from civil strife unless “violent actors” are held accountable.
In regard to concerns over free speech, the petition says,
“There is long-standing institutional anxiety that penalizing alumni will chill open discourse on campus. Harvard should be confident in its ability to expose students to diverse viewpoints without empowering the instigators of a violent, racist revanchist movement. There should be little concern of a cascading ‘slippery slope’ of degrees revoked — unless more alumni choose to encourage armed insurrection in the future … The violence on Capitol Hill is not an isolated incident, and it will not be the last if institutions like Harvard continue to allow white supremacy to go unchallenged.”
Alan Dershowitz the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus at Harvard Law, objected to the student demands, telling Fox Business, “It would be illegal and highly immoral to revoke a degree based on constitutionally protected actions like former students merely supporting the president.”
These students claim that it is important to Harvard and to themselves that both sides are heard on this issue, but their demands don’t align with their application. That’s because they are immersed in an ideological vacuum where dissent and the expression of different ideas is often quashed or hidden. A Harvard newspaper survey showed that only 1.5 percent of faculty and just 7 percent of students at the school consider themselves conservative.
That makes for a very large echo chamber of the same, acceptable ideas and narratives, and so these students have been swindled of their ability to see, much less understand, the notion that there is more than one side to every story or idea. They don’t seem to realize that expressing concern over what you believe to be election irregularities does not make a person a “violent actor” nor does it incite a rebellion against the United States.
The petition claims that questioning the electoral process subverted the democratic process and incited an insurrection. If that is true, then what about the claims made by Democrats and the media that Russia hacked the 2016 election and gave Trump the victory? These claims were an unfounded conspiracy theory that cast doubt on the electoral process for years, leading to a two-year-long, $40 million special counsel investigation that proved Russia did not steal the election for Trump. The Harvard students believe that Cruz’s vote to reject the electors due to his desire to hold a 10-day, bipartisan audit of the election undermines our system of government. If that is true, then Democrats, who raised objections the last three times a Republican was elected President, also undermined our system of government.
To take away someone’s hard-earned and expensive degree for questioning the results of the election process is theft. It is wrong to charge without any evidence that these officials were motivated by racism and white supremacy to incite an insurrection against the United States. That is a grave charge to lob against someone simply for questioning the results of an election, something Democrats and the “not my president” crowd did throughout the Trump presidency.
Harvard should deny this petition immediately and also issue an explanation citing the cautionary cliché: “Be careful what you wish for.” Regardless of the specific conditions the students believe warrant the revocation of these particular degrees, if a university can unilaterally without charge, investigation, or trial rescind the hard-earned diploma of an elected U.S. senator like Ted Cruz or a combat veteran like Dan Crenshaw, they’ll have given themselves the precedent and permission to do it to anyone they want, for whatever reason, and at any time — and in the future that could include any one of the students who signed the petition.