Berkowitz on Harvard Law and the Email Controversy

Via Instapundit, my former colleague Peter Berkowitz has an excellent column criticizing Dean Minow’s response to the controversy.

One point Peter highlights is that it was a Harvard 3L student who speculated about the genetic basis for racial differences in IQ, but it was Dean Minow who wrote that the student “suggested that black people are genetically inferior to white people.” The student, however, not only reached no ultimate conclusion on the IQ issue (as many commentators have pointed out) but also (as few commentators have pointed out) said nothing about “inferiority” or “superiority,” and, as Peter puts it, to write without caveat that she did is an “incendiary revision.”

So, completely putting the race issue aside, Dean Minow’s revision suggests that she believes that people who have genetic endowments for greater-than-average intelligence are “genetically superior” to the average person. Now that’s an ugly sentiment, though perhaps one rather comforting for someone smart enough to be dean of Harvard Law School.

But perhaps, unlike what Dean Minow did her student, we should give her the benefit of the doubt, and not use one emailed statement to condemn her, even one that, unlike the student’s email, was assumedly well thought-out and was meant for public circulation.

UPDATE: Allow me to elaborate via analogy. Bernstein writes, “I think Ashkenazic Jews may be genetically predisposed to be shorter than Norwegians.” Cohen then writes, “Bernstein suggests that Ashkenazic Jews are genetically inferior to Norwegians.” It’s a fair inference that Cohen thinks that people who are predisposed to be taller than average are “genetically superior” to the average person.

[I have some end-of-semester deadlines to attend to, so comments are closed.]

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