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Harvard Law’s Reichstag Fire

This came in yesterday’s mailbag from someone at Harvard Law School. I looked up the correspondent, and verified that he/she is an HLS student. I publish it with permission, only redacting one identifying detail:

Last night, someone placed black tape across all the portraits of the African-American faculty at Harvard Law School. The entire campus has been preoccupied today with discussions about racism at HLS and in light of what has been going on throughout the country.

You may have heard about that already, but the reason I wanted to write you is because I think I learned something very important about the Benedict Option today. I have been reading your blog for some time, but even after four years as an undergraduate at [deleted], I don’t think I really reckoned with what cultural conservatives are up against. In the back of my mind, I think I always dismissed the SJWs I encountered in college because they were just “kids” and likely to grow out of it. It’s a lot harder to dissociate that way when you’re in law school, especially this law school, and you realize that people here are not going to fade away like some bozo from your sophomore philosophy seminar. These people are the future of the legal profession. They are law firm partners, judges, politicians, even future senators and presidents. And most of them have accepted the SJW ideology without reservation. Even the ones headed straight for corporate law (and let’s face it, that’s most people, even if they don’t know it yet) agree with most of the underlying assumptions of the SJWs.

What happened at my school last night was shameful. But cultural conservatives need to understand what kinds of lessons my colleagues are drawing from this event: they believe that they need to radically transform the premises and aims of legal education. [Emphasis mine — RD] I believe that critical race and gender theory are now ascendant in law, as they have been in the humanities for decades. Dissenters will be driven out of law schools (the good ones, anyway), and implicitly, out of the legal profession. That will leave conservatives increasingly defenseless against the pink police state and its Vichyite collaborators in corporate America.

We must prepare. We must build our own institutions. I did not really understand how essential the Benedict Option is until now. Thank you for doing what you do.

The images are very offensive, for sure, but I don’t for one second believe that this was a true hate crime. I would bet my next paycheck that it was a hoax carried about by SJW provocateurs within the school who have been mounting a campaign against Harvard Law. Again, I could be wrong about that, but activists are wasting no time in using this event — whether it was real or staged by them — to advance their radical agenda. And they are succeeding, hence the title of this post.

The news broke widely on the Blavity blog, in a post by Harvard Law student Michele Hall, who posted photos of the defaced portraits, and commented in part:

The portraits of black professors, the ones that bring me and so many other black students feelings of pride and promise, were defaced. Their faces were covered with a single piece of black tape, crossing them out of Harvard Law School’s legacy of legal scholarship. Their faces were slashed through, X-ing them out, marking them as maybe unwanted or maybe unworthy or maybe simply too antithetical to the legacy of white supremacy on which Harvard Law School has been built. Harvard Law School was, after all, founded with the money from the sale of over 100 Antiguan enslaved people (because they were not slaves but people who were brutally and inhumanely enslaved) by the Royall family. To this day, the Royall family crest is the seal for Harvard Law School, and their legacy of white supremacy drips from every corner of the campus, like the blood of the 77 enslaved people murdered after a slave revolt on the Royall plantation. The defacing of the portraits of black professors this morning is a further reminder that white supremacy built this place, is the foundation of this place, and that we never have and still do not belong here.

She adds:

This morning at Harvard Law School we woke up to a hate crime. And what we do next will shake white supremacy at Harvard Law School to its core.

Given how many fake hate crime reports get made — in particular on college campuses — one would hope that Harvard Law students would await the results of the Harvard Police investigation before they, in Michele Hall’s words, “tear down these hallways of white supremacy.” If it really was done by an anti-black racist, then that person must be punished severely. But even if the worst is true in this case, is that incident worth trying to destroy the school, and the community of the law school? A single jackass stunt does not prove that Harvard Law School is a Ku Klux Klub. Institutions are not invulnerable; you can spend years building a house, but destroy it in a day. No institution is perfect, but unless they are wicked, we must reform them with love, not tear them down with hatred.

The black activist law school group Royall Must Fall, which is campaigning to get the Royall family crest removed from the law school seal, issues the following statement on its Facebook page:

Early this morning, the faculty, staff, and students of Harvard Law School woke up to the defacement of the portraits of all current and former black professors on the walls of Wasserstein Hall.
As far as we know, the defacement of these portraits is still being investigated by the Harvard University Police.
Earlier last night, student activists created an educational art exhibit where they placed tape on the crests of Harvard Law School in Wasserstein Hall and posted facts about Isaac Royall, Jr. Black gaffer tape was used so that it would not leave any residue. Some of this tape was later taken off the activist art exhibit and used to cross out the faces of black professors.
As Royall Must Fall, we are saddened and disgusted by this violent act against black professors. This overt act of racial hatred is a manifestation of the systemic racism that pervades our daily lives at Harvard Law School and throughout the country.
Today, nearly a thousand students, staff, and professors gathered to discuss systemic racism and the experiences of people of color at Harvard Law School. As a community, we must do better. We must take immediate action to confront systemic racism in our school and society.

“An educational art exhibit”? Bull. They defaced the Law School seal. Just hours after activists used tape to cover up that seal on that hallway (see photo here), someone used the same tape to deface the black law professors’ portraits, according to Royall Must Fall, the activist group that first defaced the campus seal. If you are a campus black activist, the trashing of the professors’ portraits is about the best thing you could hope for to electrify the institution in this nationwide climate of hysteria, and in turn to push your agenda. The utility of this “hate crime” to the activists’ cause should cause those involved to pause and await the outcome of the Harvard University Police’s investigation. The hysterical rhetoric coming from activists like Michele Hall is a sign that they have no intention of using reason and prudence.

In any case, contrary to the activists, it was not a “violent act”; if genuine, it was an act of insulting, provocative speech. And speech is not violence, lawyers-in-training! But I see what you’re doing here. Even if the defacing of the portraits really was a hateful act by a racist — something that is, I repeat, a possibility — you all, as well as your sympathizers on campus, are going to use it for all its worth to, as my HLS correspondent says, “radically transform the premises and aims of legal education.”

This is why the truth or falsity of the hate crime allegation here doesn’t matter, in the end. What is truth? Truth, to you, is what advances the revolution, what gives you more power. To paraphrase an effective strategist of radical social change, there are no morals in campus politics, there is only expedience. A scoundrel may be of use to you just because he is a scoundrel.

Wake up, folks, and understand what’s happening here, before our eyes. These Harvard students are the people who will rule over us one day, in our courts and in our corporations. Every single one of the current members of the US Supreme Court went to an Ivy League law school (four Harvards, three Yales, and one Columbia). Bill Clinton graduated from Yale Law School, while Barack Obama graduated from Harvard Law (the two Bushes also have Ivy League records, though not in law school). Remember what “Prof. Kingsfield,” a deeply closeted Christian who teaches in this elite law school culture, told me earlier this year about the cultural homogeneity and arrogance within his law school tribe:

“The sad thing,” he said, “is that the old ways of aspiring to truth, seeing all knowledge as part of learning about the nature of reality, they don’t hold. It’s all about power. They’ve got cultural power, and think they should use it for good, but their idea of good is not anchored in anything. They’ve got a lot of power in courts and in politics and in education. Their job is to challenge people to think critically, but thinking critically means thinking like them. They really do think that they know so much more than anybody did before, and there is no point in listening to anybody else, because they have all the answers, and believe that they are good.”

Kingsfield ended our interview this way:

“Your blog is important for us who feel alone where we are, because it let’s us know that there are others who feel this way,” Kingsfield said. “My wife says you should stop blogging and write your Benedict Option book right now. There is such a need for it. My hope for this book is that it will help Christians like us meet and build more of the networks that are going to carry us through.”

Prof. Kingsfield said it. The anonymous Harvard Law School student had his/her eyes opened yesterday by watching how the SJW lemmings at the most elite of American law schools reacted to this provocation. It is coming. Late last night, a law professor friend at a different school said he recently gave a lecture to a large church crowd about what’s happening on campus today. He wrote that after his talk, “Everyone wanted to know what to do while they feel helpless as their civilization vanishes before their eyes.”

I’m working on it. My agent is now showing the Benedict Option book proposal around. You keep working on it too, and stay in touch, because I might need to talk to you for this project. We are going to need to do exactly what Prof. Kingsfield and this HLS student say: form networks, build institutions, and prepare.


about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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