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Harvard Crimson editorial seen as attack on conservative students

Posted by Your Town  March 4, 2013 11:34 AM

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An editorial published Thursday in The Harvard Crimson has sparked controversy online, with some commenters interpreting the piece as a plea for conservatives to not attend Harvard.

The editorial, titled “Warning Do Not Enroll: If you might want to insult Harvard down the line, go elsewhere,” condemns the public figures who have openly criticized Harvard, despite holding degrees from the university.

The editorial, which has garnered more than 640 comments, points to three examples of noteworthy alumni who have slammed the university. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas recently made headlines when he affirmed his belief that when he attended the Harvard Law School, many students were “Marxists who believed in...overthrowing the United States government.”

Fox News talk show host Bill O’Reilly, who has a degree from Harvard's Kennedy School, called Harvard professors “pinheaded” in November, after Harvard recognized a kinky sex club.

And in April, presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has received a J.D. and an MBA from Harvard, condemned President Barack Obama for spending “too much time at Harvard.”

“Such episodes of treachery are apparently attempts to curry favor with the more anti-intellectual members of our body politic,” the editorial says. “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 Crimson staff writers say that if given the opportunity to speak with Cruz, Romney, or O’Reilly, they would have warned them that Harvard “has a few liberals.”

“While [liberals] may seem strange and foreign to a young conservative, they are almost certainly not secret communists and probably actually less of a threat to the integrity of the United States government than some people back home.” The editorial then links to this New York Times article, in which more than 100,000 people signed an online petition asking the Obama administration to let Texas secede from the United States.

“If we could have spoken to these three young men, we could have spared them from the fear and anguish that must come part-and-parcel with seeing oneself as instructed by insurrectionists or buffoons,” the editorial says. “If we could have spoken to these three men, we would have told them never to come to Cambridge.”

David French of the National Review Online wrote a response to the editorial, titled, “Harvard Crimson to Conservatives: Love Us or Leave Us.”

French, who identifies himself as a Harvard alumnus and a conservative, calls the editorial “hilarious,” writing that “not in a million years would the Crimson dare write such an editorial about critiques of Harvard from the Left.”

French writes that while at Harvard, “I made friends — Right and Left — that will last a lifetime, and there’s nothing quite like learning what you believe and why when constantly challenged and hectored by your ideological opposition. While there were some bad days, I simply refuse to believe that we conservatives should abandon an almost 400-year-old American institution — arguably the most important academic institution in the world — to one side of the political, cultural, and religious debate.”

Katherine Landergan can be reached at klandergan@globe.com. For campus news updates, follow her on Twitter @klandergan.

Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

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