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The real reason Republicans are cheering


Let’s talk about Claudine Gay, the first Black person and just the second woman to serve as Harvard University’s president, who resigned after months of turmoil.
Many on the conservative right celebrated Gay’s resignation with delirious fanfare. Christopher Rufo, the far-right activist and charlatan, obnoxiously announced Gay’s exit by tweeting the word “SCALPED.” In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, he gleefully cited it as a case study in how conservatives can successfully manhandle left-wing institutions.
Initially, it appeared that even after a less than satisfying appearance on Capitol Hill as part of an inquiry on antisemitism — which resulted in the resignation of former University of Pennsylvania president Liz Magill — Gay still maintained the solid support of the Harvard Governing Board .
Her position became more tenuous when the conservative Washington Free Beacon published additional stories that questioned her academic writings. The stream of revelations fueled growing discord among Harvard’s students and faculty, some of whom argued that the institution was embracing a double standard for its president that it would not allow for a typical undergraduate student.
To be sure, the responses of all three women were problematic. Instead of following the advice of misplaced overcoaching and endemically diplomatic legal counsel, they should have emphatically denounced genocide against any ethnic group and vilified racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hate speech.
However, Republican New York Rep. Elise Stefanik hypocritically and obscenely accused these women of intolerance, considering she’s a staunch supporter of the great replacement theory. As Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, who is Jewish, so deftly stated, “as a Trump supporter, Stefanik has no standing to criticize anyone on antisemitism. Trump was the one who saw ‘very fine people’ on both sides of the antisemitic riot . . . in Charlottesville in 2017.”
The truth is allegations of academic misconduct, racial and religious intolerance, and other related issues notwithstanding, the primary targets of the right  are diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. The other issues were smokescreens. In fact, Rufo, major Harvard donor William Aikman and other individuals who ruthlessly targeted Gay overtly and arrogantly publicly stated as much.
The conservative right and more than a few neoliberals view DEI as the sinister two-headed dragon that benefits and rewards “supposedly undeserving and incompetent people.” These are code words (in fact bullhorns) for non-whites and in certain cases, women, and the attack on DEI initiatives is a useful tool they can exploit, manipulate and perversely weaponize for their self-serving sinister agendas.

Conservatives have long used a racist playbook as a guide to political victory. In the mid-1960s, the far right seized control of the Republican Party from the moderate Rockefeller wing. Richard Nixon’s Southern strategy guided the party in 1968 and 1972 Ronald Reagan invoked “big Black Bucks and welfare queens” during his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the site of the murder of three civil rights workers in 1964 for defending universal human rights. There was also George H. W. Bush’s racist stereotyping of Willie Horton in 1988 and the Obama birther conspiracy theories in 2008.
We are now at the beginning of another crucial election year in an America that remains heavily politically polarized. The white grievance that Donald Trump and his campaign intentionally and sinisterly agitated during his victory in 2016 have returned in 2024 with an additional list of fresh faces whose targets remain largely the same: women, non-whites, immigrants, and those deemed “other.”
Right-wing conservatives consider the resignation of Claudine Gay, being both Black and female, as a double triumph for their larger agenda.
In a recent New York Times op-ed, the former Harvard president wrote, “The campaign against me was about more than one university and one leader. This was merely a single skirmish in a broader war to unravel public faith in pillars of American society. For the opportunists driving cynicism about our institutions, no single victory or toppled leader exhausts their zeal.”
Her words certainly seem prophetic at the moment. Those of us committed to fairness and equality for all citizens, as opposed to a select few, must ensure that such a statement fails to reach fruition.

Copyright 2024 Elwood Watson, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate