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What's Claudine Gay's Plagiarism All About?



              One of the worst and most disgusting decisions made by Donald Trump when his fat ass was seated behind the real Resolute desk was an Executive Order issued in 2020 which banned diversity training, in particular mentions about Critical Race Theory, in government agencies and contractors working for the Federal Government.

              Trump got the idea from watching a self-promoting noisemaker named Christopher Rufo who pushed for an end to such training in an appearance on the Fucker Carlson show. Incidentally, this was how Trump created a governing agenda – he watched Sean Hannity and Fucker Carlson on Fox News.

              Anyway, Rufo became something of a ‘name’ on alt-right social media once this bullshit Executive Order got around (an Order, btw, immediately cancelled by Joe) and how he’s appeared again as a leader of the assault against Claudine Gay which cost her the job as President of Harvard University yesterday.

              Before I get into my comments about Professor Gay’s alleged plagiarism, let me repeat something I said after she and the Presidents of Penn and MIT made fools of themselves  when they were grilled about campus anti-Semitism by that redneck shithead Member of Congress Elise Stefanik several weeks ago.

              You would think that these three women, knowing they were going up against a GOP cabal looking to score points at the beginning of an election season would have had the sense to sit down with a couple of professionals who could have coached them on what to expect and how to respond to the verbal assault.

              Frankly, the three of them sat at the witness table like deer on the side of the highway staring into the headlights of a passing car. How could the Presidents of these major universities come down to D.C. so totally unprepared? No wonder that two of them have now quit those jobs.  Anyway, back to the issue of plagiarism.

              Several weeks ago, Rufo published a series of tweets on Twitter/X where he lays out the details of Gay’s alleged academic theft. Because that’s what plagiarism is – theft. You’re stealing some data created and published by someone else. Usually, such content is protected by a copyright precisely to protect its original publisher from losing the value of what he/she has placed in the public domain.

              Incidentally, I wrote a 400-page Ph.D. dissertation which was registered appropriately after I defended the work before a dissertation committee at Northwestern University in 1971. I then published my first academic monograph with the University of Chicago Press in 1977 and published a second, academic monograph with Basic Books in 1984. I also published original research in at least four, peer-reviewed academic journals. So, I know something about plagiarism.

              On the other hand, Christopher Rufo has never published anything of academic value whatsoever. In fact, what he says about his so-called graduate education at Harvard is about as accurate as the weight I list every year when I renew my health insurance plan.

              Here’s Rufo’s statement: “I earned a master's degree from Harvard's night school—not nearly as prestigious as the graduate school—but, if I had committed these kinds of violations, I would have been expelled.”

              Not ‘nearly as prestigious’ as the graduate school? Is Rufo seriously describing the continuing education program at Harvard which has no admission standards whatsoever as just not as ‘prestigious’ as the regular graduate school? Give me a fucking break, okay?

              But what’s really interesting about Rufo’s listing of Claudine Gay’s academic criminality, is that he compares sentences and sentence fragments from her dissertation to content in at least 6 published books, but he never explains how he selected those works in the first place.

              There must be hundreds of published monographs and scholarly articles which have appeared in the years both before and after Gay submitted her dissertation in 1997. Did Rufo read through every page of this vast bibliography to find some sentences which then appeared in Gay’s dissertation absent quotation marks or a footnote?

              Of course not. He read through the dissertation’s text, found references to the relevant published works and then found instances in her text where she either forgot to stick in a footnote or some other attribution to someone else’s work.

              I guarantee that if you read Gay’s dissertation, that you would find every one of those sources which provided Gay with 8 or 10 unattributed words here and there.

              Fine. She screwed up. She was lazy, or tired, or too busy and the members of her dissertation committee also had other things to do.

              But the idea that some alt-right huckster who has never published anything except MAGA-style racist denunciations of WOKE should be regarded as an arbiter of academic standards for Harvard or anywhere else is just another example of how social media has corrupted the way we communicate and the way we think.

             

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