[IMPORTANT: This is Part 2 of a two-part treatment of the “puppets.” For links to those who’ve commented and expanded on our work, please see updates at top of our prior post. Also, see our subsequent post on Laurence Tribe’s role in this matter.]
Although the Royall Asses’ notes from their Dec. 5 meeting with three left-wing professors appear decisive enough on the point, as we set forth yesterday, we now present further evidence leaked to us by a disenchanted member of the “Royall Must Fall” / “Reclaim HLS” movement.
It supports our contention that beginning in December, the movement morphed into a radical front group for a bloc of left-wing professors at Harvard Law School who seized on the crisis created by the Royal Asses’ racist-hate-speech hoax, and sought to use it in service of the goal they had been pursuing for years: to transform Harvard Law School into an institution even more ridiculously left-wing than it already is. In effect, the professors used their own students as puppets.
Dec. 5 was not the only meeting held between the Royall Asses and left-wing faculty members. On December 10, Rena Karefa-Johnson (Royall Ass # 22) sent out the following e-mail to a select group of faculty members perceived to be friendly to the students’ movement:
Reclaim Harvard Law invites you to join us on Monday night for a discussion about our movement and our demands.
As we continue to push for changes that meaningfully address structural racism at HLS and beyond, we want to hear your feedback, critiques, and questions. You are professors who we trust, whose opinions we value, and who we believe share our ultimate goals.
The meeting will take place this Monday, December 14th, at 6:00pm (Room TBD).
We really look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Reclaim Harvard Law
The most incendiary comments were made by two professors:
Here are a few highlights from the meeting.
Duncan Kennedy urged radical, immediate action to focus attention on the need for change at the law school. He urged: “Give faculty sense of HOT demands”; “Better to spend your time making change instead of studying it.” “Main focus now should be on the change” — students should detail microaggressions to emphasize that “the school is really unpleasant for a lot of us . . . .”
Kennedy complained in particular that the “1L curriculum is a massive capitalist support” — “A majority of the first year teaching is conservative because it excludes distributional consequences for minorities, women, classes.” So the students need to “demand that the faculty concern itself with the fact that the way 1L is taught reinforces the legitimacy of the background rules.” In Kennedy’s view, “[e]very section should have . . . a critical race theorist.” He exhorted: “You need to get everyone to do this. Needs to be unpleasant not to do this.”
But Kennedy also candidly admitted: “Problem is that this demand goes against academic freedom.” His solution was to pressure professors to change, rather than formally mandate that they change. In Kennedy’s view: “Professors who don’t do this must have pressure from students and colleagues!”
Kennedy emphasized the need to “[d]evote spring to change the law school” and, to “put pressure” on the school, “[r]aise the ante.” He advised them to “[s]cream and yell at faculty . . . [a]nd just keep demanding professors to do something about it!” In particular, he advised: “Focus on short-term . . ., don’t let them pacify until graduation!”
Stephanie Robinson agreed with Kennedy about the urgency of immediate, radical action: in urging on the agitators: “Need to fan the flame, not let the fire die!” She emphasized this point: “the opportunity is here — you either let the fire burn out or you fan the flames.” She advised the students to “[p]ut together a timeline/calendar for this movement” — there are “127 days left until Commencement — plan them all out!”
Robert C. Bordon, an expert in the use of negotiation tactics to get one’s way, seemed to agree on the advisability of radical pressure tactics — as a matter of tactics, he said, you want to have “a war department” in addition to having “a state department.” But he added a cautionary note, expressing concern that tactics tending to demonize administrators had created a lot of confusion and fear — “negative repercussions from” administrators regarding “how they are going to be labeled by the movement,” which makes them “[a]fraid of saying the wrong thing to not be attacked,” thereby stifling dialogue. Another version of the notes reports Bordone’s comments as follows: “a sense of confusion and fear . . . Fear of speaking” because “not ‘saying the right thing’ could result in backlash from some side,” yielding “Silence.”
On a related point, Jeannie C. Suk commented that she is “disturbed by the personalization of [Dean Martha] Minow” — the personal attacks on her pull faculty members “toward emphasizing with Minow despite sympathizing with students aims.” Robinson disagreed, noting that Minow “is the representative of the administration and the institution.” And Jon D. Hanson advised the students to continue treating Minow as an adversary. Disagreeing with a faculty member who had earlier described Minow as the students’ greatest ally, Hanson responded that “Minow is not your biggest ally” — she “just act[s] as if she is your ally to thwart off faculty who are trying to protect her.”
An amusing tidbit relates to the protesters’ view that Dean Minow is two-faced regarding whether student government might play a constructive role on issues related to the movement. Early in the meeting Christine A. Desan reported: “Faculty approached Minow to ask for SGA [Student Government Association] to try to set up some kind of forum to field opinions on the demands, but Minow rejected the idea as too weak . . . .” Indeed, according to Desan, referring to student government, Dean Minow said: “It’s a toy.” This comment led one of the student note takers to make the following observation: “(this is funny, because Minow told us, and loves to point to SGA as a means by which we can get things done).”
Finally, it is interesting that Hanson noted, in apparent reference (at least in part) to this blog: “Other students are starting to mobilize against us.” Hanson’s reference to “us” is telling: it’s a concrete illustration that we are not dealing with a purely student-led movement; indeed, we may well be dealing with students who are acting as a front group for left-wing professors, who are using their students as puppets to pursue their long-held goal of transforming Harvard Law School into a far-far-far-left institution.