Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. and Stephanie Robinson have been dumped as deans by Harvard. They were the were the first African-American faculty deans in the history of the school, but that milestone didn’t stop the administration booting them over Sullivan joining disgraced Hollywood groper Harvey Weinstein’s defense team.
The idea that everyone is entitled to representation under the law, a treasured American principle, would be well understood and communicated at an Ivy League law school of this caliber, one would think. That is apparently not the case, however, in today’s climate of kowtowing to the capricious outrages of college kids.
The New York Times wrote on Saturday that protests against Sullivan’s role as a dean to undergraduate students began back in January, after he signed on to Weinstein’s defense team. After that, “many students expressed dismay, saying that his decision to represent a person accused of abusing women disqualified Mr. Sullivan from serving in a role of support and mentorship to students.”
The protests followed the style the Resistance left and college kids everywhere have embraced over the last few years, of concentrated outrage, incivility, and even defacing of public property.
The graffiti showed up on the door of a Harvard University building last week: “Our rage is self-defense,” and “Whose side are you on?”
On Saturday, the dean of Harvard College, Rakesh Khurana, released a statement as an email, outlining to the students at Winthrop House, where Sullivan was a faculty dean, that he would not be returning to the post.
“This is a regrettable situation and a very hard decision to make,” it reads. “I have long admired your Faculty Deans’ commitment to justice and civic engagement, as well as the good work they have done in support of diversity in their House community.”
It is ironic that it cites Sullivan’s commitment to justice. It is that commitment which compels lawyers to defend the bad guys, for the sake of the rest of us. And it is justice that Sullivan is being denied by outrage fiat.
Perhaps National Review’s Charles Cooke had the best distilled response, when he commented on Twitter.
Dangerous is a good word for a lot of what is happening on college campuses every week. Dangerous and, in some cases, utterly stupid.