Wednesday, May 11, 2022

For Harvard Crimson's Editorial Board, Facts Are for Losers

It's Dara Horn, at Bari Weiss's Substack, "It turns out that nobody’s SAT scores can provide immunity to propaganda":

Twenty-five years later, I still remember the theatrics involved with becoming an editor at the Harvard Crimson, the newspaper produced by Harvard undergraduates every day for the past century and a half. The newspaper’s office had a room upstairs called the Sanctum, so named because only those who had jumped through the paper’s prescribed journalistic hoops were allowed to enter—and then only for Sunday night editorial meetings, at which the coming week’s worth of unsigned editorials were debated and approved under strict secrecy. Newly minted editors were welcomed into the room with the question, “What are your politics?” One’s answer determined the side of the room where one would sit for these debates.

Many participants cared deeply about these discussions—though this being the 1990s, many more didn’t, and attended mainly for the fun of it. My peers were largely the children of baby-boomer parents who had morphed from flag-burning hippies to mall-hopping yuppies; Gen Xers like us took people’s self-important opinions with a very large grain of salt. In the Sanctum, I sat on the left by vague default, but didn’t attach much meaning to it. I was far from alone: A good number of editors didn’t even bother to remain on their side of the Sanctum, instead simply choosing the comfiest chairs.

When I later became one of the editors responsible for drafting each week’s worth of unsigned opinions about subjects like university workers’ strikes, affirmative action, and the Clinton impeachment, I learned that the only real sign of success was to say something interesting enough to generate a dissent. The only way to do that, of course, was to marshal the facts and explain why they mattered. When an editorial prompted other editors to write a dissent objecting to it—about, for instance, a campus visit by China’s then-premier—it was the ultimate compliment. You’d actually had something to say.

I hadn’t thought about any of this for ages. My work as a writer for the past 20 years has been almost entirely solitary; none of my books involved convincing a roomful of people of my point of view. But I was reminded of this ancient student ritual last week when my phone blew up with messages from dozens of irate former Crimson editors, including many actual journalists, a group of alumni going back several decades.

The current Crimson editorial board, in a somewhat modified version of the procedures I remembered, had just published an unsigned editorial fully endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, reversing its position from two years earlier. There was no official editorial dissent. Afterward, copies of this editorial were posted publicly in undergraduate dining halls, just in case anyone missed it.

The BDS movement, as it’s known, is old news on college campuses and elsewhere; it’s been around long enough that it no longer bothers to hide its goal of eliminating the world’s only Jewish state. But I had to hand it to The Crimson for timing, given that the editorial followed several weeks of terror attacks in Israel during which 15 people were stabbed, shot and car-rammed to death while engaging in such provocative behaviors as drinking at a bar or walking down the street...

Keep reading

The Crimson editorial is outrageous, though not surprising. 

Read it here: "In Support of Boycott, Divest, Sanctions and a Free Palestine."

And see, "The Crimson Faces Backlash Over Editorial Endorsing BDS Movement," and "To the Editor: From Six Crimson Alumni In Regard to BDS."