News Articles

FIRST-PERSON: Harvard sees Crimson over pro-life activism

BOSTON (BP)–In the past, the bludgeoning of college conservatives has included making bonfires of alternative newspapers and shouting down speakers on the right. But attempts to suppress dissent from the reigning campus orthodoxy are now far more subtle.

Consider the case of Matt Evans, a third-year student at the Harvard Law School. Evans’ choice to speak out for the unborn has the law school and some of his fellow students seeing crimson. In early January, the Utah native started posting small signs on student bulletin boards with what some consider an inflammatory slogan: “Smile! Your mother chose life.”

The signs were torn down almost as fast as Evans put them up. He took to carrying a stapler and several dozen around with him to replace those destroyed.

(Aside — Isn’t it nice to know that the nation’s most prestigious law school is hatching a cadre of little storm troopers?)

Two weeks into the project, Evans was confronted by a member of the staff who sweetly inquired, “Are you the one putting up this —-?” Evans says the lady “denounced my message as one of hate, accused me of meddling in women’s issues and called me a coward because I had not put my name on the signs.”

It’s indicative of the mentality of faculty and student activists at our schools of higher learning that something as innocuous as “Smile! Your mother chose life” could be considered offensive.

A few days later, Evans was called into the office of the dean of students and told that, while he certainly had a right to express himself, she was being pressured to confine the message boards to notices of items for sale and the like.

Evans was directed to include contact information on his signs — presumably so he could be reached by those who wished to dispute the proposition that they should rejoice in their mother’s decision not to abort them.

Thereafter, people began posting counter signs (“Smile! You’re a simpleton”). These broadsides did not have contact information, and the administration made no effort to locate the authors and require them to identify themselves.

But then double standards abound at Harvard, as Mary Ann Glendon — a law professor and another hateful pro-lifer — learned in 1992.

Glendon wrote a letter on Harvard stationary to some Catholic priests explaining the debate over the pending federal Freedom of Choice Act. When this got back to the university, she received an official reprimand from Margaret H. Marshall, then chief counsel of Harvard University, now chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. (That’s the way political correctness is rewarded in the Bay State.)

In a Feb. 22, 1993, letter Marshall expressed concern that Glendon’s communication might be misconstrued as a Harvard endorsement of the right-to-life position, risking the university’s tax exemption — as if there was the remotest possibility Harvard might be mistaken for the Mass. Citizens for Life.

Glendon says campaigns to defeat the Supreme Court nominations of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas were practically run out of the law school. The university didn’t seem particularly concerned about its tax status then — when the activism was from the left. To his credit, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, an opponent of both Bork and Thomas, came to Glendon’s defense.

Academic double standards aren’t confined to Ivy League schools in the liberal East.

Professor David Yeagley has been teaching at Oklahoma State University for five years, earning the praise of his students. He’ll be gone after this semester. While the school won’t say why he’s being terminated, Yeagley was told by an administrator that he embarrassed the university by promoting a statewide course in patriotism in the public schools.

If Yeagley were crusading for infanticide (a cause championed by Princeton professor Peter Singer), his activism would be considered a glittering asset to the university, instead of treated like a dotty aunt to be hidden away in an attic.

Colleges and universities should post their own signs: “Conservative students should keep their opinions to themselves. Conservative faculty should put their conscience in a blind trust for the term of their association with this institution.” Then again, they really don’t have to.
Feder is a columnist with the Boston Herald. (c) 2000 Creators Syndicate, Inc. Used by permission of Don Feder and Creators Syndicate, Inc.

    About the Author

  • Don Feder