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Why DEI Must End For Good

2023-12-23 (239)

How did the congressional hearing on antisemitism last week go so awry?
Was the resignation of University of Pennsylvania’s president just another cancellation, only this time on the other side of the political aisle?
How can we fix our broken universities? And what’s at stake if we don’t?

Bari Weiss: Founder of "The free press"

00:00 📅 The video discusses a recent Congressional testimony involving the presidents of Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania and their responses to questions about rising anti-Semitism on their campuses.

02:48 🏛️ The video highlights instances of perceived hypocrisy in how universities handle free speech, citing examples where certain viewpoints were shut down while others were defended.

05:51 🚫 The video expresses opposition to cancel culture but suggests that Penn President Liz McGill lost her job due to her inability to fulfill her role effectively rather than being canceled.

10:48 🏛️ The video argues that Liz McGill's resignation exposes deep issues in American higher education and raises questions about leadership, morality, and the need for reform.

12:11 📚 The video discusses the ideology of DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) and its impact on American institutions, especially universities, and argues for its dismantling.

19:26 🇩🇪 The video draws parallels between the current ideological climate in American universities and the history of German universities during the rise of Nazism, emphasizing the importance of addressing these issues.

Video Transcription:

On December 5, America

witnessed the most sordid

congressional testimony

in recent memory.

I watched, and probably

you did too, in shock

as the presidents

of Harvard, MIT,

and the University

of Pennsylvania,

three of the supposedly

greatest universities

not just in America

but in the world,

struggled to respond

in front of Congress

to very basic questions

about the obvious rise

of antisemitism

on their campuses.

In one unforgettable

and hugely viral exchange,

Republican congresswoman

Elise Stefanik

asked Penn

president Liz Magill

if calling

for the genocide of Jews

violates her school’s rules

or code of conduct.

Yes or no?

Liz Magill

sort of smiles

at the question

and then ultimately says: “If

the speech

turns into conduct,

it can be harassment, yes.

I am asking, specifically


for the genocide of Jews,

does that constitute

bullying or harassment?

If it is

directed and severe

or pervasive,

it is harassment.

So the answer is yes.

It is a

context-dependent decision.

Then there was Harvard

president Claudine Gay,

who, when faced

with a similar round

of questioning by Stefanik,

responded this way:

We embrace a commitment

to free expression,

even of views

that are objectionable,



That’s interesting

because just last year,

Harvard told students

in a mandatory

three Title IX training

that using the wrong pronouns

for a person

constitutes “abuse.”

I’ll go on.

It said that “any words

used to lower a person’s

self-worth” are, quote,

“verbal abuse”

and that, quote, “sizeism

and fatphobia

contribute to an environment

that perpetuates violence.”

In September 2021,

MIT allowed a mob

to cancel a public lecture

on climate change

by my friend and geophysicist

Dorian Abbot,

because he had the

gall to criticize

affirmative action.

Or take Penn.

In 2019,

Penn shut down

an event with former ICE

director Tom Homan

because students

were chanting so loudly

to “abolish ICE,”

and it made it impossible

to hold a conversation.

And yet here

these same schools were

last week

suddenly discovering

the virtue of free speech.

I’m satisfied that I’ve

conveyed our deep commitment

to free expression,

recognizing that

it’s uncomfortable.

The satirical news site

The Babylon Bee pretty much

hit the nail on the head

in a single headline

a few months ago: “Harvard

Student Leaves Lecture

on Microaggressions

to Attend a ‘Kill

the Jews’ Rally.”

It was that

same hypocrisy—that

same double standard—that

millions of people

witnessed that day

in front of Congress.

Millions of people,

including Penn’s donors,

some of whom decided

to close their checkbooks.

And then, less than a week

after the hearing, Liz

Magill—along with Penn’s

chairman of the board

of trustees—resigned.

As listeners of Honestly

and readers

of The Free Press know,

I am the first

to stand against

cancel culture.

In some cases, I’ve literally

been the first person

to defend

unpopular victims of it.

People who have been fired

or publicly shamed

or forced to resign

from their jobs

because of public pressure

for basically nothing,

from a mistake

or a minor




The very first episode

of this podcast,

the very first episode of

Honestly that we ever aired,

was about a man

named Majdi Wadi.

OG listeners will remember,

but he’s

a Palestinian immigrant

whose life’s work,

a very successful

hummus business

in Minneapolis,

was boycotted

and decimated

because an angry mob

on Twitter found antisemitic

and bigoted tweets

that his teenage daughter

had posted, and deleted,

and then apologized for years

earlier. They were such,

like, horrible and vile

things, and that’s

not who I am.

I warned in that podcast

that holding someone

to account

and ruining their lives

because of one mistake

they made

was un-American and wrong,

and that in this

particular instance,

a man was being held

to account

because of the sins

of their teenage daughter,

who by that

point was an adult. I felt

it was profoundly illiberal

and anti-American

to judge a person

based on the actions

of their relative,

no matter how vile

the tweets were—and

they were vile.

But she apologized for them,

and she did them

when she was a teenager.

I defended biology

professor Carole Hooven,

who was driven

out of her position

at Harvard for insisting that

biological sex is binary.

And she said so

as a biologist.

I defended Kathleen Stock,

a professor who was hounded

out of the University

of Sussex,

tarred as a kind of witch,

for much of the same reasons

as Hooven.

I do not think USC

professor Greg Patton

should have been

suspended from his job

for saying a Chinese word

that happened to sound

like an English slur.

If you have

a lot of “um,” “ers,”

and this is

culturally specific,

so based

on your native language,

like in China,

the common word is "that,

that, that," so in

China might be "nega

nega nega nega."

I don’t believe that.

University of

Massachusetts Dean

Leslie Neal-Boylan

should have been fired

for writing in an email—and

this is true—Black

Lives Matter,

but also everyone’s

lives matters.

There are dozens

of similar examples

that we have reported on,

that we have written about,

or that we have spoken about

on this very show.

What all of these

people have in common

is that none of them actually

did anything wrong.

None of them did

anything at all

other than violate newspeak,

other than offend

our cultures

new authoritarians

who want to usher in a world

in which

saying there are two sexes

is the moral equivalent

of screaming the N-word

in public.

So the question is this

Did Penn president Liz

Magill do something wrong,

or is she another

victim of yet

another angry mob?

Only this time

a mob on the other side

of the political

and ideological aisle?

It’s a worthy question,

and it’s

one that my colleagues

and I don’t all see eye

to eye on.

Peter Savodnik,

Free Press senior


to say, he’s a guy

whose views

I deeply respect—argued

this week in our pages

that Magill’s resignation,

and I quote, is a blow

to academic freedom.

It amounts to little more

than a cave—yet

another prominent

American institution

succumbing to the angry mob.”

For Jewish students

specifically, he argued,

and I quote, “It

will make things worse

by making an already


academic environment

even more illiberal.”

Now, let me first say

that I oppose cancel culture,

no matter

if it’s done by the right

or the left or anyone

in between.

But being opposed to cancel

culture—obsessive and odious

mob attacks over minutia

for the sake of casting out

the independent-minded

and sending a message

to everyone else to shut up

or you could be next—does

not mean being opposed

to anyone ever

getting in trouble for

actually screwing up.

And in my

view—and of course, it’s

a judgment call—that’s

what actually happened here.

Liz Magill

didn’t lose her job

because she was “canceled.”

She lost her job

because she revealed in front

of the entire country

that she wasn’t up

to the task

of running

one of the

most important universities

in the world.

Think about it this way:

if the quarterback

on a football team blows

a key game in the playoffs,

does the coach

have an obligation

to keep him on the field?

Of course not.

He had a job to do

and he didn’t do it.

Another athlete

should come in

and replace him.

That’s my view

with Liz Magill, who failed

the very basic duties

that her role

and responsibilities

required of her.

Because the job

of a university

president is not merely

to point out the basic

constitutional rights

of students

to scream

for a violent

uprising against Jews

or anyone else.

Intifada revolution!

One solution!

Intifada revolution!

And yes, those students,

of course,

have those legal rights.

As Nadine Strossen

and Pamela

Paresky wrote recently

in the pages

of The Free Press.

“Even antisemites

deserve free speech.”

I agree with that.

But is pointing out

obvious legal rights

why we have university


Is their job

simply to remind us

that people are allowed

to shout terrible things

and that the First Amendment

protects them

from doing so?

Never mind

the glaring hypocrisy

of the fact

that these very same people

would never defend

the right of white students

to march through campus

calling for violence

against black students,

or street students

to march through campus

calling for violence

against gay students.

Both of those scenarios,

to name one of dozens,

would simply be unimaginable.

But never mind

the double standard,

which is a big

part of the story

and a big reason

why people are angry.

Take that off the table

for just a moment.

Because even

if that hypocrisy

and double standard

wasn’t at play,

my answer would

still be the same.

And that is that

the job of a university

president is not merely

to point out

what is and isn’t legally


The job of the university

president is to offer



of course,

but also moral


Penn’s motto,

and I kid you not,

is literally this: Laws

without morals are useless.

I want to repeat that again

because I kind of couldn’t

believe that

that was the motto: Laws

without morals are useless.

So can anyone actually

look at Magill’s

performance—let alone

that of Harvard’s

Claudine Gay, Now under fire

for alleged

plagiarism—or MIT’s

Sally Kornbluth—and

walk away and say, “Now

that is a leader

with admirable

moral judgment”?

Can anyone look

at those women and say,

“If we could choose anyone

to lead these schools

in this moment, this is who

we would choose”?

Can anyone look at these

three people

and say they offer

the kind of

inspiring leadership

and moral clarity

that the country

so desperately needs

at this moment?

I think those questions

answer themselves.

But where Peter Savodnik

and I agree

is that Magill’s resignation

doesn’t actually solve

much of anything.

It certainly doesn’t do


to remedy the grotesque

hypocrisy and double

standards and moral confusion

that have corrupted

American higher education.

But what that congressional

testimony did,

and what Magill’s resignation

does, is finally

and at long last

pull back the curtain.

There’s no more pretending

that this incident at

this school was a one-off.

That this story is just

nitpicking no more.

Magill’s resignation,

which was a direct

outcome of that testimony,

reveals to everyone,

plain as day

how deeply American

higher education

is broken.

And the question now,

the urgent question, is

what we’re
going to do about it.

How do we fix American

higher education?

My view is that,

above all else,

we need to return

higher education

to its original purpose:

to pursue the truth

for the sake of

human flourishing,

and to pass on the knowledge

that is the basis

of our exceptional


We do that

by doing a few very basic—but

I guess right now

they feel

quite radical—things.

Things like committing

to intellectual freedom,

not ideology.

Things like hiring

based on merit.

Things like doing away

with double standards

on speech.

And yes,

walking the walk.

Not sending our checks

and our children

to schools that betray

the most fundamental liberal

and American values.

But above all,

starting today,

we need to uproot—root

and branch—the ideology

that has supplanted truth

at the core of American

higher education.

And that ideology

goes by the name DEI.

It was 20 years ago

when I was a student

at Columbia, that

I encountered this ideology

for the first time

and that I began to write

about it.

Of course, at the time

it was a nameless,

niche worldview.

But I noticed that it

contradicted everything

that I had been taught

since I was a child.

This was a worldview

that replaced basic ideas

of good and evil

with a new rubric:

the powerless (good)

and the powerful

(necessarily bad).

It replaced color blindness

with race obsession; ideas

with identity; debate

with denunciation; persuasion

with public shaming;

the rule of law

with the fury of the mob.

I noticed that people

were to be given authority

in this new order

not in recognition

of their talents

or their gifts

or their hard work

or their accomplishments

or their contributions

to society,

but in inverse


to the disadvantages

their group had suffered

as defined

by radical ideologues.

When I raised alarm

bells about this at the time,

I was told

by most of the adults

I respected not to be

so hysterical.

Campuses were always hotbeds

of radicalism, they said,

and this ideology

would surely dissipate

as young people

made their way in the world.

At least that’s

what they promised me.

But they were wrong.

It didn’t dissipate.

Over the past two decades,

I watched as this

inverted worldview

swallowed all of

the crucial sense-making


of American life.

Yes, universities, obviously,

but also

cultural institutions,

including some I knew well,

like The New York Times,

as well as every major

museum book-publishing

company, philanthropy,

media company.

Then it
moved to our medical schools

and our law schools.

It’s taken root in the HR


of every major corporation.

It’s inside of our

high schools

and even

our elementary schools.

This ideological takeover is

so comprehensive that it’s

almost hard to notice it.

That’s because

it’s everywhere.

This ideology

is obviously dangerous

to Jews

because in this

new worldview,

where fairness is measured

by equality of outcome

rather than equality

of opportunity,

who do you think

that singles out?

If under-representation

is the inevitable outcome

of systemic bias,

then overrepresentation—and

Jews are just 2% of

the American


not talent or hard work,

but unearned privilege.

This conspiratorial

conclusion is actually very,

very close

to the hateful portrait

of a small group of Jews

divvying up

the ill-gotten spoils

of an exploited world

captured most powerfully

in The Protocols

of the Elders of Zion.

But it isn’t only Jews

who suffer

from the suggestion

that merit and excellence

are dirty words.

It is strivers of every race,

every ethnicity,

and every class.

That is why

Asian-American success,

for example,

is so suspicious.

The percentages are off.

Scores are too high.

Where did you steal

all of that success from?

Of course, this new

ideology doesn’t

come right out

and say all of that.

It doesn’t

even like to be named.

Some call it wokeness

or antiracism

or progressivism

or safetyism or

Critical Social Justice

or identity Marxism.

Whatever term you use,

what is clear

is that this worldview

has gained power in the world

in a conceptual

instrument called DEI:

diversity, equity,

and inclusion.

In theory,

all three of these words

represent noble causes.

They’re in fact,

all causes to which

the American Jewish community

in particular

has long been devoted.

The American

Jewish commitment

to justice—not lip service

real justice—and

the American

Jewish community’s commitment

to oppose racism—real

racism is a source

of tremendous pride,

rightfully so,

and that should never waver.

But in reality,

DEI is not actually

about any of those words.

Rather, it uses those words

as camouflage.

Those words are,

in fact, now metaphors

for a
powerful ideological movement

bent on categorizing

every American

not as an individual worthy

of equal rights and dignity

because of

their individuality,

but as an avatar

of an identity group.

A person’s

behavior prejudged,

according to that group,

setting all of us up

in a kind of zero-sum


DEI calls itself progressive,

but it is not.

It doesn’t

believe in progress.

It is explicitly


It claims to promote

equity or equality,

but its answer to the

challenge of teaching math

or reading to disadvantaged

children is to eliminate

math and reading tests.

It demonizes hard

work, merit, family,

and the dignity

of the individual,

all virtues

that are the foundation

of what makes America


The dangers of DEI

have been made exceptionally

clear by what’s

been happening on college

campuses today, campuses

where professors

are compelled

to pledge fidelity

to DEI

in order to get hired,

promoted, or tenure.


where ever since October 7th,

we’ve seen students

and professors

immersed not in facts,

knowledge, or history,

but in

a dehumanizing ideology

that has led them

to celebrate or justify


because the terrorists

or what

they call “the oppressed,”

and the victims are

what they call, quote, “white

settler colonialists.”

But perhaps nothing has made

the dangers of DEI clearer

than last week,

when we saw those three

university presidents

fail to string together

basic sentences

about the difference

between good and evil.

Now, the antidote

to this poison

is not for the

Jewish community

to plead its cause

before the

intersectional coalition

and to beg for higher ranking

in the new ladder

of victimhood.

It’s not to assign Jews

protected status alongside

other minorities.

Because the solution

to discrimination isn’t

more discrimination.

That is always

a losing strategy.

And in any case,

Jewish identity

doesn’t fit into

this very crude

racial framework.

Because is Judaism a race?

If so, what color?

Is it a religion?

An ethnicity?

A culture?

See, Jews are,

by their very existence,

an affront

to this black-and-white


No, the right solution

isn’t to retrench

DEI only this time

including Jews.

The only solution is

to dismantle

the DEI regime

that has enforced

an illiberal worldview

at nearly

every American university.

It is time to end DEI

for good.

No more standing by

as people are encouraged

to segregate themselves.

No more forced declarations

that you’re going to prioritize

identity over excellence.

No more compelled speech,

no more going along

with little lies

for the sake of being polite.

It’s time to stand

up for what is right.

Now, for

anyone who thinks I’m blowing

this out of proportion

or exaggerating how much

this matters,

I want you to look back

and to consider the history

of Germany’s universities,

how the very

same institutions

that were once

the envy of the world

helped usher

in the
intellectual atmosphere

that gave way

to the rise of Hitler.

As historian Niall

Ferguson wrote

in a very powerful piece

in The Free Press this week

called “The Treason

of the Intellectuals,”

and I quote “Anyone

who has a naive belief

in the power

of higher education

to instill ethical

values has not studied

the history

of German universities

in the Third Reich.

A university degree,

far from inoculating Germans

against Nazism,

made them more likely

to embrace it.”


academic leaders, of course,

would never

recognize themselves as heirs

to people

like Martin Heidegger,

the greatest German

philosopher of his generation

who jumped on the Nazi

bandwagon and wore a swastika

pin on his lapel.

Today’s leaders will insist

that Heidegger

was on the right

and they’re on the left.

But as Niall Ferguson

reminds us,


comes in two flavors,

but the ingredients

are the same. Yes,

the Holocaust is the worst

historical crime in human


It’s exceptional.

But one of the things

that makes it exceptional

is that it was perpetrated

by a highly

sophisticated nation-state

that had within its borders

the world’s finest


As Niall

writes, “The

lesson of German history

for American

academia should now

be clear.

In Germany,

to use the legalistic

language of 2023,

’speech did cross

into conduct.’

The ’final solution

of the Jewish question’

began as speech—to

be precise,

it began as lectures

and monographs

and scholarly articles.

It began in the songs

of student fraternities.

With extraordinary speed,

after 1933,

however, it

crossed into conduct

first systemic

pseudo-legal discrimination

and ultimately,

a program

of technocratic genocide.”

All of which is to say:

this isn’t just an issue

for elite people

that go to elite colleges.

The stakes are much

higher than that,

because what happens

at universities matters.

What we teach our

young people matters.

What we teach them

about the goodness

or the badness of our country

and our civilization

deeply matters.

DEI is undermining

liberalism and America,

and that for which

it stands—including

the principles

that have made it

a place of unparalleled


tolerance, safety,

and freedom—not

just for Jews,

but for all of us.

After the events

of the last week, it

is clear DEI must end.

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