Josh Hammer: Claudine Gay Is Not a Martyr

The perspectives and thoughts expressed in this op-ed are the exclusive purview of the author.

The trials and tribulations of Claudine Gay, the former president of Harvard University who resigned this week after being exposed as both a Jew-hatred apologist and a serial plagiarist, perfectly expose America’s cultural divide.

To the Right, she is the embodiment of the woke ideology and the DEI (“Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion”) regime: a ruthless careerist who knifed fellow black scholars in the back during her institutional ladder-climbing, a middling intellectual who has never advanced meaningful scholarship and has never even published a book under her name, and someone who — a la Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson — was transparently picked solely due to checking some identity boxes. To the Left, she is a martyr par excellence: a black woman in a position of high prominence who came under withering assault from hidebound racists, and whose defenestration should — a la George Floyd’s death in May 2020 — bring about a broader “racial reckoning” about America’s continued shortcomings and injustices.

The latter narrative, dutifully peddled by Gay herself in both her shameful resignation letter and a New York Times op-ed a day later, is wrong. That narrative is woefully out of touch with the commonsense sentiments of the American people, who correctly value merit and excellence — now dismissed by our decadent elites as “anachronistic” at best, or as vestiges of “white supremacy” at worst — over the zero-sum identitarian scraps offered by the DEI regime.

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Claudine Gay is no martyr. In fact, Gay managed to maintain her sinecure for over three weeks longer than did Liz Magill, who resigned her perch as president of the University of Pennsylvania within days of the leaders’ disgraceful, morally bankrupt congressional testimony on Dec. 5 — the most-viewed in the history of the U.S. Congress — in which the ladies smirked their way through rigorous bipartisan questioning and refused to unequivocally denounce on-campus calls for Jewish genocide. If anything, it is dispiriting that it took a massive additional plagiarism scandal — exposed by intrepid investigative journalists such as Chris Rufo and Aaron Sibarium — to attain the justice that should have resulted from Gay’s “mere” refusal to adequately protect Harvard’s Jews at a time of skyrocketing global antisemitism.

As Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) tweeted, the “most important point” about the Claudine Gay saga isn’t that she resigned after facing intense (if proper) scrutiny, but “that she had the job — the most prestigious job in higher education — after an extremely thin record of accomplishment” in the first place. That is indeed the real scandal. The fact that a comically underqualified serial plagiarist who cannot condemn calls for Jewish genocide and cannot accept any criticism without immediately attributing it to “racism” attained the presidency of Harvard University should indeed lead to a national conversation and soul-searching — albeit not the kind of “racial reckoning” conversation the Left now desires. That necessary conversation about the absurdities of the DEI catechism, however, would require honesty, good faith and informed patriotism from all participants. Alas.

Gay’s is undoubtedly a nice scalp for the forces of civilizational sanity in our roiling culture war against the aggressor forces of civilizational arson. But unless broader changes are made, beginning but by no means ending with the Harvard Corporation that exercises board oversight duties, Gay’s departure will end up more symbolic than meaningful. Gay demonstrated neither contrition nor self-awareness in her resignation letter and Times op-ed, and there is no reason for thinking the university has engaged in self-reflection about its role in pushing the DEI cancer. Unless and until Harvard indicates that it has learned any of the proper lessons from the saga of its shortest-tenured president in its nearly 400-year-old institutional history, aspiring matriculants should withhold their applications, donors should withhold their checkbooks, and taxpayers should not contribute a penny.

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Ultimately, the civilizational struggle against the DEI regime, and the broader effort to restore commonsense values such as merit, industry and excellence to their proper place, necessitates a sprawling, grassroots national effort. Salutary one-off developments such as the resignation of a high-ranking Jew-hatred apologist and serial plagiarist are helpful for energizing the masses. But that energy must be properly channeled: In the political arena, that means freezing the hiring of DEI bureaucrats on public university campuses, as Wisconsin has done, or (better yet) fully eliminating the bureaucracies, as states like Florida and Texas have done. Similar pressure should be applied on corporations, some of which seem to be heading in the right direction; Google, for instance, has slashed DEI-related job postings from 20%-30% year over year, according to data from the job listing site Indeed.

There can be no resting on our laurels. We must not rest until this cancer is fully eradicated. DEI delenda est.

To find out more about Josh Hammer and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at


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