Harvard newspaper tells conservatives not to attend if they're going to criticize the school

Published: Friday, March 1 2013 3:45 p.m. MST

Students walk through the Harvard Law School area on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2002.

Chitose Suzuki, Associated Press

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — An editorial in The Harvard Crimson — Harvard College's daily newspaper — has a simple message for conservatives who might be interested in attending the school and then criticizing their alma mater after graduation.

Don't bother coming.

"You see, lately, there seems to be a pernicious trend of public figures — especially those on the right — falling in love with Harvard just long enough to benefit from its educational resources and, yes, its social prestige, before turning against our school," Thursday's Crimson editorial said. "Such episodes of treachery are apparently attempts to curry favor with the more anti-intellectual members of our body politics. Yet it is finally time that we say enough is enough. We at The Crimson urge anyone who plans on one day scoring political points by maligning Harvard to neither apply, enroll, nor graduate from this fine institution."

The editorial is the latest shot to be fired in an ongoing online battle about the political affiliations of Harvard's faculty members and alumni experiences with radicalism at the school.

It specifically references Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who in 2010 said that proponents of Marxism far outnumbered Republicans on Harvard's faculty when he attended; registered Independent Bill O'Reilly, who criticized "pinhead professors" for supporting a club devoted to bondage and other "alternative" activities; and former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who said President Barack Obama might've spent too much time at Harvard rather than working in the real world.

The Crimson editorial said that if the writers could've spoken to younger versions of these three people, they would have "assured them that it was OK to be anti-intellectual" and that "although we didn't share their dread of academia, we would have tried to make them feel comfortable with the lifestyle they were preparing to lead."

"If you think Harvard is a revolutionary communist hotbed, don't apply. If you think Harvard is full of 'pinheaded' professors, don't enroll. And if you think Harvard pollutes the minds of its students, don't walk out of here with a degree — and certainly don't get two," the editorial said.

David French, a Harvard alumnus writing at National Review, responded, saying the newspaper would never dare to write such an editorial about critiques of Harvard from the left, and that conservatives who attended Harvard "did not bring anti-intellectualism to Harvard; anti-intellectualism was inflicted upon us."

He followed that remark to say that, at Harvard in the early 1990s, shout-downs were common, radical students would try to sabotage conservative students' job prospects, and some professors were "nothing short of venomous" in their interactions with conservative students.

Despite The Crimson's urging otherwise, French said conservative students will still apply, and that they will engage and confront the anti-intellectualism displayed by the editorial.

The real lesson of the editorial, according to Nathan Harden of The Fix, is that "Harvard liberals sure are an accepting bunch."

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