Only my recent travails have delayed my letter not only withdrawing from my Georgetown Law Center class reunion committee but announcing that I have no intention of attending any celebration of a degree that has embarrassed me repeatedly for several years, most notably in this revolting episode. But, to be fair, my undergraduate degree has been rendered equally nauseating, and over a much longer period. That Harvard—it has to be #1 in everything.
This Month’s Harvard Magazine continued the apparently irreversible trend. The Harvard Library announced that it is removing the “illegal alien” subject heading from its collection descriptions, citing the hoary progressive talking-point that “actions can be illegal, but people cannot.” This has always been sophistry and rhetorical sleight of hand to make it linguistically difficult to describe what it is that is objectionable about those who illegally cross our borders and remains here, receiving the benefits of this nation without having been granted them. When the elite and educated in a society start bolstering bad ideas and flawed logic by abusing their perceived authority and confusing the ignorant and gullible, propaganda gains overwhelming power.
The “no person is illegal” trick is intellectually dishonest, of course. Illegal aliens are people who are in this country illegally. Ergo, while remaining in this country, their existence here is illegal, and hence they are illegal. One could say with equal validity—that is, none—that no drug can be truly illegal, because objects themselves can’t do anything, legal or not. It’s what is done with the drugs that is illegal–make them, distribute them, sell them, use them. You can’t prosecute an object.
It is all double-talk to make it easier to defend indefensible conduct and to blur the real issues involved. Seeking clarity and “veritas” (Harvard’s motto) the library now lists all 8000 plus documents relating to illegal immigration with the useless “noncitizen” (aren’t all foreign residents noncitizens as far as the U.S. is concerned?) and my personal least-liked cover-phrase, “undocumented immigrant.” Huh? What documents would those be? The contrived term sounds like someone lost her driver’s license. Is someone who sneaks into a movie an “undocumented audience member”? In either of the Harvard library’s supposedly more correct and clear replacements for “illegal alien,” where is the information that the individual being described has broken our laws to be here, and continues breaking them by staying here? Where is the fact that what the individual has done is illegal?
It’s nowhere, and that’s intentional.
I was encouraged to read in the same issue’s letters section a tough indictment from alum Alfred Alcorn, who began by noting the hypocrisy of Harvard’s President extolling viewpoint diversity in the university while expelling GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik from the Institute of Politics Senior Advisory Committee because she has maintained that the 2020 election was tainted. Alcorn writes in part,
…I thought the role of an open and free university was to allow and encourage differing points of view. Apparently not where Harvard is concerned. Tell us, did [Harvard]f dismiss any appointees who supported the endless and expensive efforts on the part of Congress to invalidate the election of Donald Trump based on allegations that he colluded with Russia? Or did none of that “bear on the foundations of the electoral process through which this country’s leaders are chosen”?…I recently resigned from the Kirkland House Senior Common Room after decades of being a member because I was asked, perhaps required, to “attest” that I would not discriminate against nor use my “power differential” to molest any member of the university community. The very language gags on itself…. I believe I will also leave off interviewing applicants for admission to Harvard. Because, in all honesty, I would have to tell them that the money and the time would be better spent traveling, digging a well in Africa, getting drunk in Dublin, taking a lover in Paris, learning a trade, talking to real people, and reading. Better that than four years of grade grubbing amidst careful careerists in an atmosphere where, as Seamus Heaney once put it, when you have to say something, say nothing.
Finally, if the University continues on this course, you might also appoint a committee to consider changing Harvard’s motto from Veritas to Virtus. Virtue, after all, is malleable and so satisfying to proclaim while truth can be both elusive and difficult.