“Revoke Their Degrees”: Harvard Faculty and Students Seek Revocation Of Degrees For Trump Officials and Allies

There is a building campaign at Harvard to rescind the degrees of Trump officials and allies including White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-TX).  This is not the only such effort to retaliate against Trump officials from blacklists to campaigns of harassment.  Indeed, previously there was a demand for a ban on former Trump officials from being allowed on campus at Harvard. Recently Rep. Elise Stefanik was removed from a high-ranking board on Harvard for challenging the victory of President-elect Joe Biden.  The concern for some of us is that the Capitol riot is now being used by many to accelerate the crackdown on free speech on our campuses.

The revocation of degrees would result in immediate and likely successful court challenges.  I cannot imagine a court allowing such an action to occur on this basis.

More importantly, it is wrong.  It is using academic degrees as a vehicle for political expression and retaliation. Just declaring such figures “violent actors” does not change the fact that the university would be acting in a raw political fashion. It would send the message that any degree is subject to the shifting political winds of a university and that attaining a degree remains only tentative and subject to revocation by majority demand.

The principal basis for the action is the support for the challenge to the electoral votes in Congress. This challenge was made under a federal law and has been repeatedly made by Democratic members without any such campaigns of retaliation or even recriminations. I opposed the challenge to the electoral votes from the outset and stated within a couple days of the election that there was no evidence of systemic fraud in the election. I also maintained within a couple of days that Joe Biden was our president-elect. So I fundamentally disagreed with these individuals. However, the effort to seek such retaliation is not just fueling our divisions but it is part of a widening campaign against free speech.

The petition states:

“A Harvard degree is a privilege, not a right. Harvard had no qualms about rescinding offers of admission to high school students because of racist activity online that did not reflect the University’s values. But holding teenagers accountable is easy. Harvard should have the will to hold adult insurrectionists to the same standards.”

The statement is chilling. There is a vast and obvious difference between the withdrawing of an offer of admission and the revoking of an earned degree.  One is an offer of admission and the other is a vested degree.  One action is prospective and the other is retroactive.  The link is to the decision to rescind admission from Parkland shooting survivor Kyle Kashuv over alleged racist comments made two years previously on social media. The Harvard Crimson reports that ten such offers have been withdrawn over such social media postings.

What is most concerning is that faculty members have joined at Harvard and other schools to create blacklists and take retaliatory actions against people who were supportive or served in the Trump Administration. This effort is being spurred on by the rhetoric of figures like MSNBC’s Joy Reid who called for the “de-Ba’athification” of the Republican Party and CNN’s Don Lemon insisting that Trump voters as a group are supporters of Nazis and the KKK. This language seeks to label the votes of almost half of the electorate as virtual hate speech or extremism. The same call is now being heard on campuses for a purging of those deemed complicit in the Trump administration.  That is beyond outrage. It is opportunism to use this tragedy to settle scores and purge opposing voices. The alternative is free speech. We can continue to engage each other in civil and respectful dialogue — the very antithesis of what occurred on January 6th. Universities could play a critical role in that dialogue but it will require a faith in free speech and ourselves that seems diminishing by the day.

361 thoughts on ““Revoke Their Degrees”: Harvard Faculty and Students Seek Revocation Of Degrees For Trump Officials and Allies”

  1. Several trolls have admitted on this comment board that cancel culture gestures, like this Harvard petition, are bad.

    “A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step.” Lao Tzu

  2. Diversity [dogma] (i.e. color judgment), not limited to racism, is a sincerely held belief of Harvard, and, apparently, not a few faculty and students. And, of course, the wicked solutions (e.g. selective-child) of the Pro-Choice selective, opportunistic, relativistic (“ethics”), politically congruent quasi-religion.

  3. Oh, for God’s sake. If this fascist behavior against Republicans, Trump voters, and Trump’s former administration people isn’t roundly, universally, condemned, then the country is hopeless.

    This is the behavior one would expect from Brown Shirts. The Red Army. The Bolivarian Army. The 26th of July.

    If you don’t value freedom of everyone, not just your own, then our liberty will be lost. No civilization has ever lasted forever. The rot occurs from within. Blessed, successful, at ease, the people grow discontent with their own good fortune.

    1. Karen S.
      “Blessed, successful, at ease, the people grow discontent with their own good fortune.”

      Sadly true. An issue of lack of gratitude and thankfulness, it seems.

    2. Republicans were silent when Bush was doing this stuff. We now know that more than 90% of Gitmo detainees were released without any charges at all. At the time Bush officials told us these were the “worst of the worst”.

      Years ago the various watchlists had a combined total of more than 1 million persons with a “terrorism-conviction” rate of less than 1%. Legitimate searches should net a minimum of 70% conviction rate. The failure rate was 99.9%.

      The innocent Americans, that Republicans ignored, have been harassed by police and homeland security officials for more than 7,000 consecutive days. Now it’s the Trump voters who will be on the receiving end. It wasn’t the Democrats it was Bush voters that brought this to you. Enjoy.

      1. Congress passed laws that prohibited Gitmo detainees from being detained in the US during Obama’s administration. This was in response to outrage over water boarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques.” About 200 of them were released. There’s about 40 left.

        The main point of contention arises from labeling them unlawful combatants, not entitled to Geneva protections of POWs. An unlawful combatant would be a spy or a terrorist, as opposed to a soldier on a battlefield. Their status, and therefor their rights, were under intense scrutiny. Some of them turned out to be high value detainees transferred from CIA black sites abroad.

        Their release does not mean they were kidnapped while on a school field trip to a library. There was an international, somewhat ironic, uproar, given the clandestine operations of most other countries, about their treatment, including force feeding prisoners on hunger strikes without anesthetic, water boarding, burning a Quran, and an instance I won’t go into detail in which a Muslim was sullied and prevented from washing.

        It was ugly treatment of prisoners, whom were feared knew about another impending 9/11, which led to their release, not innocence.

        Around 20% of those released were confirmed to have returned to terrorist or militant fighting against the West. A little less than 15% more are suspected of it.

        If they were deemed unlawful combatants, they should have been charged as such. If they turned out to be lawful combatants, then they should have been treated as any POW.

        I recall at the time feeling a moral divide. Intellectually, the law is what it is, and must apply equally. Emotionally, if someone told me a man before me had knowledge of an imminent massive terrorist or nuclear attack that would kill thousands of people at least, and he wasn’t talking, and we had perhaps days to find out…well, that’s a desperation I’m glad I’m not in a position to feel. It’s the slippery slope of having a good reason for bad acts. I’m not excusing some of the actions taken at Gitmo, just acknowledging the side of human nature that will sacrifice conscience to protect others. How many movie studios have made billions of dollars off of the antihero beating a bomb or kidnapped loved one’s location out of a villain? We all have that button that would push us. We’re just lucky not have had it slammed down.

    3. Karen S: there is no “freedom” to break windows, invade the Capitol building, kill police officers, steal laptops, steal the Speaker’s podium and papers, spread urine and feces throughout the building, deface a memorial to Rep. John Lewis, all while carrying Trump flags, wearing shirts with anti-Semitic insignia and erect a gallows for the purpose of lynching the Vice President.

      BTW: I challenged you to respond to the fact that Trump hasn’t condemned his disciples who wore “6 mnwe” and “Camp Auschwicz” shirts, since you believe that Trump is so pro-Jewish. Crickets so far.

  4. Professor Turley is a principled Man who practices the “Honest Man” method in deciding his responses to issues.

    That infuriates quite a few on the Left who ignore such a concept and have zero reluctance to ignore the principle of Due Process when offering their views on any issue being discussed.

    They see no barrier too low or road too bad when it comes to shoving their views and agenda on to those who differ.

    The Professor is right….as he usually is and that is purely because makes his decisions in a methodical and reasoned way unlike most of his detractors.

    The Left is motivated by less than honest intentions when they do such things as this Degree removal crap.

    Where will they draw there line….how low will they go….it seems plain there is none.

    You on the Left….prove me wrong.

    1. Sorry Ralph, wish he was, but he repeats falsehoods over and over which benefit his partisanship. Note his columns always attack democrats,- with a usual aside claiming his disagreement with a republican – or cable news networks other than Fox where he is a regular guest or employee.

      1. Hey Joe. You are telling us that anyone who appears on Fox should never be trusted. You must then be inferring that those appearing on CNN and MSNBC should be equated with Socrates, Plato, and Cicero. Sorry buddy, We’re just not buying it. Imagine Don Lemon debating Socrates. For that matter imagine imagine Chris Cuomo debating Professor Turley in a forum that does not consist of two minute segments. My money’s on Turley in 119 seconds of round one.

  5. Joshua killed every living thing in Jericho as a deterrent and to preclude attack from the rear as he moved into Canaan, the Promised Land.

    Joshua 6:21, NIV

    They devoted the city to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it–men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.

    Joshua 6:20, 21

    So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets—Towards the close of the seventh circuit, the signal was given by Joshua, and on the Israelites’ raising their loud war cry, the walls fell down, doubtless burying multitudes of the inhabitants in the ruins, while the besiegers, rushing in, consigned everything animate and inanimate to indiscriminate destruction (De 20:16, 17). Jewish writers mention it as an immemorial tradition that the city fell on the Sabbath. It should be remembered that the Canaanites were incorrigible idolaters, addicted to the most horrible vices, and that the righteous judgment of God might sweep them away by the sword, as well as by famine or pestilence. There was mercy mingled with judgment in employing the sword as the instrument of punishing the guilty Canaanites, for while it was directed against one place, time was afforded for others to repent.

    – The Walls Fall Down, Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

    1. Lincoln’s brutal vengeance, not against combatant armies, but against civilians, businesses, shops, towns, bridges, water supplies, industrial sites, farms, crops, live stock, etc., was meted out during Sherman’s March to the Sea.

      Sherman’s March to the Sea

      The campaign began with Sherman’s troops leaving the captured city of Atlanta on November 15 and ended with the capture of the port of Savannah on December 21. His forces followed a “scorched earth” policy, destroying military targets as well as industry, infrastructure, and civilian property, disrupting the Confederacy’s economy and transportation networks. The operation broke the back of the Confederacy and helped lead to its eventual surrender. Sherman’s decision to operate deep within enemy territory and without supply lines is considered to be one of the major campaigns of the war, and is considered by some historians to be an early example of modern total war.

      – Wiki

        1. Impeachment, 2021, as vengeance was ordered by:

          “The [Hag] Who Cried Wolf.”

          – Aesop’s Fables

  6. “Revoke Their Degrees”: Harvard Faculty and Students Seek Revocation Of Degrees For Trump Officials and Allies

    Harvard Faculty and Students put themselves forth as leaders that should be taken seriously but in reality they are just as unhinged as the clowns who descended upon the Capitol building on 6Jan21.

    These Harvard pretenders should be ashamed of themselves (their deluded demands will only serve to fracture the nation further) but unfortunately they are blinded by the self-righteous glare of their ideology.

    The deluded and self-righteous ideologues at Harvard University are in desperate need of introspection and truth.

    Mayhap Veritas would be kind enough to pay them a call.

  7. Under federal law, it has been illegal to threaten, terrorize or intimidate anyone since at least 1870. The guys that actually broke the law at the Capitol should be prosecuted for trespassing or more violent criminal activity. They deserve what they get. The real danger is unconstitutional “guilt-by-association” for the next 20 years that affects the rest of us.

    Will you be penalized for “liking” a Facebook post of a domestic terrorist? What is the definition of incitement? Will you confronted overtly by authorities or will it be covert punishments? Democrats aren’t safe either, this cuts both ways.

    You might say this can’t happen in America. It’s happened from the Alien & Sedition Acts to the Red Scare to McCarthyism to Cointelpro to 9/11 blacklisting to Black Lives Matters to Trump supporters. This is usually a covert response (bypasses Judicial Branch courts), so voters better start asking questions of what the new rules are for First Amendment speech.

    1. Ashcroft. Why should we have expected anything different. The left wing news media and Harvard professors have been telling these good volks for years that those on the right are Nazis, racist, and child killers. They simply believe what they have been taught and are responding accordingly. I appreciate your stance against the purge. You have presented it well. However, it should be understood that this movement for a purge didn’t just happen now. It has been going on for a long time. The days of being asleep at the wheel need to be over. The ballot box is the answer. In two years the power of the purge can be taken away. When it happens their Harvard degrees should not be rescinded.

  8. A Harvard degree is used to open doors and mingle with big money. I regularly wiped the floor with those morons in court. Many get in because they are a “minority” and not because they have any superior intelligence. That they have circulated this petition speaks volumes.

    1. Affirmative action law is unconstitutional as individuals hold dominion over private property.

      The 5th Amendment right to private property is not qualified by the Constitution and is, therefore, absolute (eminent domain excepted).

      Harvard is private property.

      “[Private property is] that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual.”

      – James Madison

  9. The AG of Texas announced his office is looking into the Parler/Amazon/Twitter matter. If you live in a state with a decent AG, urge your state to join that effort.

    As Mespo said earlier, he loves it when a defendant over extends. [Paraphrase– Sorry Mespo for not using exact wording]

    Twitter and Facebook scared a lot of government leaders when they banned Trump . The president of Mexico is working with European leaders to address this threat to their personal power and dignity. I guess thet don’t want The Bearded Twerp of San Francisco having that much arbitrary control over what they can say.

  10. Again, a Harvard diploma is an indicator you have completed your course work. Revoking it is a nonsense measure and an exercise in defrauding and defaming your alumni by suggesting they did not complete their coursework – i.e. that they committed academic fraud.

    It’s indicative of how puerile is much of the student body at Harvard – inasmuch as their brains appear stuck in high school clique culture – that this has any traction at all.

    As for bouncing Elise Stefanik, it’s just another indication that Harvard is only incidentally an educational institution. Mostly, it’s a distributor of signifiers of certain social attitudes.

    As for attempting to set up blacklists, keep in mind that the purveyors of popular and academic history have been telling us for about 50 years now that it was a VERY BAD THING that Dalton Trumbo had trouble finding work ca. 1955. Note that for much and perhaps most of our intelligentsia, having held an ordinary position in a Republican administration is shameful and a history of Communist Party membership is totes OK, even admirable. That tells you much of our intelligentsia is just as puerile as the twits who circulated this position.

  11. Often institutions have some sort of temporal limitation on when they can revoke a degree. Like a student from Alabama gets arrested for a felony 2 years later and his degree may be revoked. If it’s 10 years later they don’t revoke it. Not quoting them but this is how I believe it works at my alma mater among others. While I beleive Giuliani’s unethical conduct should disbar him, I do not believe he should lose his JD from NYU for instance. There has to be a line when it comes to losing ones degree. Even Ted Kaczynski’s BA from Harvard wasn’t rescinded to my knowledge.

    1. “Even Ted Kaczynski’s BA from Harvard wasn’t rescinded to my knowledge.”

      An interesting case, to be sure:



      The Oregonian found that “during the last four years alone, the West has been rocked by 33 substantial incidents, with damages reaching $28.8 million.” And although “these crimes started nearly two decades ago—some seem clearly inspired by Edward Abbey’s 1975 novel, The Monkey Wrench Gang—they have escalated dangerously, sometimes with the use of bombs, in the last six years.” No one other than Kaczynski’s three victims has yet been murdered by a fanatical environmentalist, but investigators consider it merely a matter of time before someone else is killed for similar reasons. “I think we’ve come very close to that line,” one federal agent told the Oregonian, “and we will cross that line unless we deal with this problem.”

      We may cross that line sooner than we think. In a September, 1998, letter to me, Kaczynski wrote,

      I suspect that you underestimate the strength and depth of feeling against industrial civilization that has been developing in recent years. I’ve been surprised at some of the things that people have written to me. It looks to me as if our society is moving into a pre-revolutionary situation. (By that I don’t mean a situation in which revolution is inevitable, but one in which it is a realistic possibility.) The majority of people are pessimistic or cynical about existing institutions, there is widespread alienation and directionlessness among young people. … Perhaps all that is needed is to give these forces appropriate organization and direction.

      Seen from that perspective, it might seem that the rest of society is only a few steps behind Kaczynski. When Henry Murray spoke of the need to create a new “World Man,” this was not what he had in mind.

      1. Kaczynski is an interesting case. I do fear as America becomes more politically violent you’ll see mobs like the ones that attacked the capitol last week, sure, but you’ll also see maniacs like the guy who shot Scalise at the baseball game or some rare eco terrorist like this case in point. Regardless, revoking degrees isn’t the proper remedy.

  12. Remember when we had to go to Vietnam and placed like that to kill Communists on behalf of the nation and a DEMOCRAT President LBJ? Of course we had a real military back then no yellow berets. At present count only ONE and then off duty time stepped forward and took a group of 200 to Washington DC. Turning them back before the trouble started and guess what Our Yellow Beret military instead of doing the honorable thing and asking for one bullet went after the Constitutionalist. Pathetic and embarrassing. Have they learned to say Meow yet?

  13. I personally know a Harvard graduate who was convicted and served time in a federal penitentiary for securities fraud. To the best of my knowledge, his Harvard degree was not rescinded. What of the Harvard graduates who serve time for child rape, or murder, or any horrible activity?

  14. As a First Amendment absolutist and an alumnus of the institution in question, I wholly reject these efforts. Furthermore, the relationship between a university and a student is contractual. Once a student has met his or her obligations and the degree has been conferred, the contract has been fully executed and the degree may not lawfully be revoked. Only honorary degrees may be properly characterized as “privileges.” Therefore, there is no risk that any earned degrees will somehow be treated as void.

    The removal of Rep. Stefanik falls into a different category, however. It’s not that she merely “challenged the victory” of Joe Biden in the election, but that she published statements which she knew or should have known were false regarding the integrity of the electoral process and the related litigation. Before truthfulness came to be derided as unwarranted homage to the gods of “political correctness,” most of us would have agreed that lying, although protected under the First Amendment, is nonetheless a sufficient ground to remove a person from an honorary position on an advisory board.

    1. Mike: “most of us would have agreed that lying, although protected under the First Amendment, is nonetheless a sufficient ground to remove a person from an honorary position on an advisory board.”

      So, then, you agree that MLK should be stripped of his degree for plagiarizing his doctoral thesis. That is a very big lie that goes to the heart of his right to the degree.

      Get caught cheating on a test you don’t get to keep the ‘A’; get caught cheating on your dissertation and you don’t get to keep the ‘Dr.’.

      Change the names of all those MLK streets and schools as well. And about that holiday….

        1. About 1/3 of King’s doctoral dissertation was plagiarized from the work of two other authors. It’s perfectly proper for Boston University to revoke that degree.

            1. Has it been examined that carefully?

              What’s interesting about that whole mess is that it went undiscovered for more than 35 years. Which tells you that no one familiar with Paul Tillich’s work ever ordered a copy of the King dissertation from UMI and read it, even though he was a very obtrusive public figure from about 1955 onward and spoke in an explicitly religious idiom. Or maybe there was a Tillich scholar who did know and let it slide.

              1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/1990/11/18/how-king-borrowed/d6fcf0f9-60a1-4b6a-86aa-137075f401e9/


                In the end, of course, none of King’s real contributions and courage had anything to do with those academic submissions. Ironically, one can perhaps get the truest sense of King’s greatness and uniqueness from reading the hundreds of his telephone conversations wiretapped and transcribed by the FBI, and released pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act. One comes away from those transcripts with an increased, indeed elevated appreciation of King’s integrity and courage. I would hazard that the same thing could be said of few others, although fortunately few comparisons will ever be available for review.

                That is what commentators such as William Raspberry and Ellen Goodman have remarked upon in recent days. They have quite properly focused on the fact that King’s greatness lay in his public achievements and private courage, not in his schoolwork nor in his sexual relationships. But we need to remember too, amidst all the relentless talk about the importance and value of “role models,” a simple truth that Howard University’s E. Ethelbert Miller succinctly articulated: “We must tell youngsters that role models aren’t perfect humans.”

                  1. It’s a reasonable wager that the lives of most of those commenting on this blog couldn’t hold a candle to King.

                    1. The “commenting” which bears is that of the Framers in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

                      The entire communistic American welfare state is unconstitutional, including but not limited to, affirmative action, quotas, welfare, food stamps, rent control, social services, forced busing, minimum wage, utility subsidies, WIC, TANF, SNAP, HAMP, HARP, TARP, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Labor, Energy, Obamacare, Social Security, Social Security Disability, Social Security Supplemental Income, Medicare, Medicaid, “Fair Housing” laws, “Non-Discrimination” laws, etc.

                      Article 1, Section 8, provides Congress the power to tax for ONLY “…general Welfare…,” omitting and, thereby, excluding any power to tax for individual welfare, specific welfare, charity or any other form of redistribution of wealth. The same article denies Congress any power to regulate anything other than the value of money, the flow of commerce and land and naval Forces. The 5th Amendment right to private property is not qualified by the Constitution and is, therefore, absolute.

                      Begging for alms is honorable; Congress has no power to provide it.

                      Charity is industry to be conducted in the free markets of the private sector.

                      Moses was a great leader with acumen and gumption who had the Israelite slaves out of Egypt before the ink was dry on their release papers.

                  2. Seriously you can’t be this obtuse?

                    How about you tell us how, just for one example, how the I Have a Dream speech didn’t directly translate in voting and affirmative policy. I’m trying to get my head around how this isn’t wildly obvious. Notice I’m pointing toward actualy policy rather than the thoughts slithering around your reptillian brain that tell us what you feel about the results personally….

                    That’s pretty obvious, too.

                    Elvis Bug

                    1. How about you tell us how, just for one example, how the I Have a Dream speech didn’t directly translate in voting and affirmative policy.

                      I noticed the evasion, wanker.

                      Two points:

                      1. Actually existing policy on race matters in this country is not inspired by the address to the March on Washington.

                      2. Not sure what ‘translate in voting’ is supposed to mean. Do you mean the composition of the voter roll? The dikes preventing black voter registration down south began to spring leaks in the late 1940s; in Louisiana, to take one example, the percentage of age-eligible blacks on the rolls increased from 3% in 1948 to 20% in 1959 without any federal action whatsoever. The last segregationist to lead a national party ticket was John W Davis, who won all of 29% of the vote in the 1924 presidential contest.

                    2. “Seriously you can’t be this obtuse?”

                      Oh, but he is.

                      When he’s right, he’s right — in his mind – and there’s nothing that will alter his misguided views.

                    3. I was there. The I Have a Dream speech was on afternoon national TV when there were only 3 networks and it changed many minds and was a major contributor to the passage of CR Act of 1964. Deco doesn’t know WTF he’s talking about.

                    4. My bad,

                      Ahh, evasion…

                      I didn’t say voting rights weren’t “inspired” by the March on Washington. Voting rights, or rather the lack of them, were inspired by chattel slavery.

                      And I was referring to the 1965 Civil Rights Act, I thought you would’ve been able to get (and I know you do, you’re just interested in deflection with your answer). MLK absolutely had an effect on that policy. But you know that. You just don’t like it.


                      Elvis Bug

                    5. Martin Luther King declared that protests must be peaceful. Those who would ride his coattails and do not condemn the riots of today in American cities demean his accomplishments and wrap themselves in the dark cloak of the charlatan. The saving grace is that they reveal themselves more and more with each passing day.

                    6. Voting rights, or rather the lack of them, were inspired by chattel slavery.

                      You’re not making much sense this afternoon.

                      And I was referring to the 1965 Civil Rights Act, I thought you would’ve been able to get (and I know you do, you’re just interested in deflection with your answer). MLK absolutely had an effect on that policy. But you know that. You just don’t like i

                      The 1964 Act is referred to by the popular name ‘Civil Rights Act’. The 1965 act is the ‘Voting Rights Act’ in popular parlance. The former law as implemented today is not inspired by any sentiment offered publicly in 1963. The implementation of the latter has varied in character, but has often been bedeviled by the same mentality.

                    7. I was there.

                      You, just past your 18th birthday, were over 1,000 miles away from home in the middle of the work week. OK

                1. His PhD wasn’t for his contributions to society; it was for a dissertation he stole, sort of an academic car jacking.

              2. Art– “Has it been examined that carefully?”
                Yes. I have a book on it that lays the comparisons side by side. It’s in storage now but when I get it out I will post its author and title. It is quite damning. MLK cheated a lot, and not just on his dissertation.

                  1. Parts of his “I Have a Dream” speech were plagiarized. Even Google yields search results on that. Try it.

                    1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/1990/11/18/how-king-borrowed/d6fcf0f9-60a1-4b6a-86aa-137075f401e9/

                      A couple of excerpts:

                      At the simplest level, Miller’s research illuminates that King’s ability to memorize — and to retain portions of memorized texts for years — was phenomenal. Multi-sentence segments of published sermons by Fosdick and by such other prominent mid-century preachers as George Buttrick, J. Wallace Hamilton and Robert McCracken turn up almost word-for-word in many of King’s sermons. To cite simply one notable example highlighted by Miller, King’s February 1968 “Drum Major Instinct” sermon, in which King seemingly delivered his own epitaph and which was played at King’s own funeral, is extensively modeled upon a similarly titled 1952 sermon by Hamilton. Such parallels can be found in many ministers’ sermons, including King’s, but the rhetorical power of King’s sermons was profoundly his own.

                      King almost always spoke extemporaneously, often giving sermons with no more than a brief outline in front of him. His oratorical repertoire was composed of notable quotations, extended metaphors and sermonic images that he had committed to memory. As Miller explains persuasively in his PMLA article, assumptions about words as property are fundamentally different within the preaching tradition than they are within the written culture of publishing. “Oral culture fails to define the word as a commodity,” Miller writes, and King, like many other preachers, operated on the premise that “words are shared assets, not personal belongings.” Southern Christian Leadership Conference President Rev. Joseph Lowery made the same point about preachers in a recent newspaper interview: “The first time they use somebody else’s work, they give credit. The second time, they say some thinker said it. The third time, they just say it.”

                      Martin Luther King Jr. viewed himself as highly imperfect, once telling his Atlanta congregation, “I make mistakes tactically. I make mistakes morally, and get down on my knees and confess it and ask God to forgive me.” Indeed, “God does not judge us by the separate incidents or the separate mistakes that we make, but by the total bent of our lives.”

                      No longer will King be an easy symbolic vehicle for inculcating schoolchildren with a “great man” approach to history whereby significiant achievements are registered only by those who are perfect. Instead, a more sophisticated picture of human greatness and contributions will be required.

                      Heroes needn’t be perfect to nonetheless be heroes, nor should too much focus on one individual obscure the fact that the civil rights movement witnessed heroic courage and contributions from thousands of largely unsung individuals.


                      But, hey, haters are gonna hate.

                    2. Political speeches make no more claim of originality than do legal briefs. When I wrote legal briefs for the federal government, I was expected to — and did — copy earlier briefs making the claim that I wanted to make. I would edit to add later references and to improve the argument where I thought I could. But basically, I was copying. And that was fine, because I was not claiming to be original, but aiming to persuade.

                      Similarly, the point of a political speech is to persuade, not to be original.

                      A doctoral dissertation, on the other hand, is supposed to be original, and to give credit that sources are being followed, where they are.

                    3. Fact haters are gonna hate facts.

                      FOR THE BENEFIT OF

                      Moses went to great lengths to “Exodus” the Israelite slaves out of Egypt before the ink was dry on their release papers FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE ISRAELITES themselves; for their sense of nationhood and self-esteem.

                      The American Founders and Americans grasped and planned for the compassionate repatriation of freed slaves as early as 1714.

                      “Earlier Resettlement Plans”

                      “The view that America’s apparently intractable racial problem should be solved by removing Blacks from this country and resettling them elsewhere — ‘colonization’ or ‘repatriation’ — was not a new one. As early as 1714 a New Jersey man proposed sending Blacks to Africa. In 1777 a Virginia legislature committee, headed by future President Thomas Jefferson (himself a major slave owner), proposed a plan of gradual emancipation and resettlement of the state’s slaves. In 1815, an enterprising free Black from Massachusetts named Paul Cuffe transported, at his own expense, 38 free blacks to West Africa. His undertaking showed that at least some free Blacks were eager to resettle in a country of their own, and suggested what might be possible with public and even government support.7”

                      – Robert Morgan

                      “A Decision to Free His Slaves”

                      “In his will, written several months before his death in December 1799, George Washington left directions for the emancipation of all the slaves that he owned, after the death of Martha Washington.”

                      – George Washington’ Mount Vernon

                    4. It’s a political speech and it isn’t really remembered for its semantic content. Less kitchen sink, please.

                    5. Most of it spontaneous. Look at the written copy, then see where King broke from the text. What made the speech spectacular was his improvisation.

                      Elvis Bug

                    6. Art Deco and some of the other yahoos around here couldn’t inspire anyone — with a speech (or otherwise) — if their lives depended on it.

                  2. “Despite its finding, the committee said that ‘no thought should be given to the revocation of Dr. King’s doctoral degree,’ an action that the panel said would serve no purpose.”

                    – Boston University Panel

                    “Boston U. Panel Finds Plagiarism by Dr. King”

                    “A committee of scholars appointed by Boston University concluded today that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. plagiarized passages in his dissertation for a doctoral degree at the university 36 years ago.

                    “‘There is no question,’ the committee said in a report to the university’s provost, ‘but that Dr. King plagiarized in the dissertation by appropriating material from sources not explicitly credited in notes, or mistakenly credited, or credited generally and at some distance in the text from a close paraphrase or verbatim quotation.’

                    “Despite its finding, the committee said that ‘no thought should be given to the revocation of Dr. King’s doctoral degree,’ an action that the panel said would serve no purpose.

                    “But the committee did recommend that a letter stating its finding be placed with the official copy of Dr. King’s dissertation in the university’s library.

                    “The four-member committee was appointed by the university a year ago to determine whether plagiarism charges against Dr. King that had recently surfaced were in fact true. Today the university’s provost, Jon Westling, accepted the committee’s recommendations and said its members had ‘conducted the investigation with scholarly thoroughness, scrupulous attention to detail and a determination not to be influenced by non-scholarly consideration.’

                    “The dissertation at issue is ‘A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman.’ Dr. King wrote it in 1955 as part of his requirements for a doctor of philosophy degree, which he subsequently received from the university’s Division of Religious and Theological Studies.”

                    – Associated Press, Oct. 11, 1991

                    The degree should have been revoked for clear and obvious reasons.

                    The degree was continued due to political trepidation.

                    A nation of laws does not exist in the absence of enforcement.

                    1. Anon above posted a WaPo ‘explanation’ exonerating King’s plagiarism. One thing mentioned was his phenomenal memory for things he read or heard that found its way into his work. Great as his memory may have been it apparently even included typos in other works but failed to recall who had actually written it.

                      Apparently he engaged in intellectual theft as an undergrad as well. I will look for my book on it.

                      There was a report a few months ago that he stood by and laughed while another reverend raped one of his parishioners in a motel room. The feeb recorded it but did nothing. Maybe take away that ‘Reverend’ title too if true.

                    2. Just used Bing to search for articles on the rape story just mentioned.

                      A lot came up and more from old feeb files and recordings. “Rev.” title should go too.

      1. https://www.nytimes.com/1991/10/11/us/boston-u-panel-finds-plagiarism-by-dr-king.html#:~:text=A%20committee%20of%20scholars%20appointed,the%20university%2036%20years%20ago.&text=King's%20doctoral%20degree%2C%22%20an%20action,said%20would%20serve%20no%20purpose.

        “Despite its finding, the committee said that “no thought should be given to the revocation of Dr. King’s doctoral degree,” an action that the panel said would serve no purpose.

        “But the committee did recommend that a letter stating its finding be placed with the official copy of Dr. King’s dissertation in the university’s library.”

      2. “. . . MLK should be stripped of his degree for plagiarizing his doctoral thesis.”

        And Biden his JD from Syracuse, for plagiarism.

    2. “She [Stefanik] published statements which she knew or should have known were false.”

      Complicated issue. One could argue that Senator Warren willingly made false statements about a lot of things, including the 2016 election and Russian collusion, in the course of her political career. How is it right for a public university to cancel Stefanik and not Warren?

      You seem reasonable, so I’m not trolling. It’s a serious question.

      1. Answer’s pretty obvious, Dog man.

        It is well documented that Russian disinformation played a large role in the ’16 election (as well as the ’20 election). Citing that is entirely different than saying the actual voting tally was rigged. Were there some on the left that said the tally in ’16 was actually affected? Yes, a small group, in certain circles. But Warren wasn’t in that particular circle. Stefanik on the other hand is front and center of the republican crew that has said outright the tally in the ’20 election was rigged.

        Big difference.

        Elvis Bug

        1. C’mon, man!! Warren has made plenty of false statements in the course of her career. All politicians do it. Nobody is going to buy your argument.

          1. Rather than make sweeping generalizations how about you pick a ‘false’ statement and tell your thoughts about why it’s false?

            Not that i don’t think making shady statements at times doesn’t exist in politics because it plainly does. And face it, you don’t like my argument because you don’t like me, which I DGAF about. You’re just showing up with generically vague accusations though. Best to be more specific.

            Elvis Bug

            1. Bug, these are guys who supported Trump, who’s daily false claims included supposed accomplishments that didn’t happen or he had nothing to do with. BIggest crowds, biggest landslide, best economy,, veterans care, border wall, jobs leaving, trade deficits, NATO spending, on and on.

              1. Gentlemen–you, too, Bug–nobody is going to buy the idea that Warren is without substantially false statements in her career.

                Now if you want to say that Warren never made substantially false statements, then by logical extension, you’re implying Bernie Sanders is a flaming sexist. It’s your call, man.

                1. How about my call being you actually bringing something to work with other than the rhetoric dancing in your head? Your deflection is on overdrive here…, not my duty to engage in it.

                  Elvis Bug

          2. Better yet, explain how you came to ignore the obvious differences between the positions of Stefanik and Warren.

            Elvis Bug

        2. Warren lied about her American Indian ancestry, apparently to help win a position as a professor who was touted as a ‘woman of color’. She appears to have plagiarized a French cookbook to put out her family’s ‘authentic’ Indian recipes as ‘Pow Wow Chow’. There is more, but she appears to be a despicable, dishonest white woman.

          Should she be allowed to keep her degrees and honors?

          What about Laurence Tribe who apparently plagiarized material for one or more of his books?

          Margaret Mead’s celebrated ‘Coming of Age in Samoa’ turns out to be rubbish. See “The Fateful Hoaxing of Margaret Mead” if it hasn’t been banned yet. Let’s abolish her degree.

          Sooner or later the mob takes an interest in everyone.

          1. See Derek Freeman on Mead. Her problem was incompetence and confirmation bias, not fraud. He said he verified that when he finally had access to her raw field notes.

            I spoke to an academic anthropologist in 1983 about the matter and he tells me that well, he doesn’t know what Derek is up to. MM had all but admitted at professional meetings that Coming of Age in Samoa was ‘so much hogwash’. Colin Turnbull was permitted to savage Freeman in general audience literature even as other anthropologists were willing to admit (not for attribution) that Freeman’s central contention – that the research which put her on the map was nonsense – was true.

            1. Mead screwed around with basket weaving and other artsy things and appears to have panicked when her time was running out and she had nothing substantive on Samoan society. Then she ended up visiting with Samoan girls who hoaxed her in a style familiar and fun in that society. Years later they were horrified that they had been taken seriously and widely published. I don’t think Mead expected fame. It was just quick work thrown together to be buried after she got her degree. In any event, well short of PhD quality.

          2. “Margaret Mead’s celebrated ‘Coming of Age in Samoa’ turns out to be rubbish.”

            Yep. She was not a scholar. She was an anti-West propagandist spreading the myth of the “noble savage.”

            It took some 40 years for a true scholar, Derek Freeman (who you referenced), to unmask her lies: _Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth_

            1. Sam– The interesting thing about Derek Freeman was that he was originally an admirer of Mead and when he went to Samoa he only hoped to fill in a few details on her work. It was a terrible shock for him to learn that she was a fraud.

              There were many things in his book but I recall his referencing a claim of hers that rape was non-existent in Samoa at a time when she could have picked up a local newspaper and read of individuals being charged with rape.

              Revoke her degree.

              Freeman was, of course, attacked viciously for, among other things, trying to tear down a great female icon. My goodness, don’t you dare contradict great female icons even when they are full of crap and hold a degree based on lies.

              If Harvard had any decency it would expel those demanding that degrees be revoked for association with President Trump. They sound like a collection of vicious screwballs who, at best, should be learning how to use shovels. But then, maybe Harvard is the place for them these days. With the blessing of the courts Harvard racially discriminates against bright, promising Asian applicants in favor of not-too-bright radical screwballs.

              1. “There were many things in his book but I recall his referencing a claim of hers that rape was non-existent in Samoa at a time . . .”

                And that Samoan children were psychologically healthy, unlike (she alleged) Western children. That claim about Samoan children was patently false.

                An interesting peek into the cowardly mindset of some scholars: It was widely known, long before Freeman’s work, that Mead’s work was rubbish. Those “scholars” were afraid to speak up because Mead was considered “untouchable.”

              2. “If Harvard had any decency . . .”

                The standard for revoking a degree seems to be: The person spreads vicious lies that cause grave injustice, and trigger violence against the innocent.

                Okay, let’s go with that.

                Revoke every degree, tenure, and academic position held by Duke’s infamous “Gang of 88.” Those vicious faculty and administrators spread propaganda-fueled lies about Duke’s innocent lacrosse players. Their mobbing tactics caused a great injustice and fueled violence.

                Not holding my breath. In academia, if you have the “right” ideology, you are “beyond good and evil” and have blanket immunity.

                1. Sam– I followed that at Duke. The Gang of 88 was abhorrent and should have never been allowed on a campus again. They turned on those innocent students like a gang of hungry cannibals and the university did nothing.

                  1. “. . . the university did nothing.”

                    Actually, Duke did do something. To the bitter end, it protected the Gang of 88, and gave some of them promotions. The only solace was the multi-million dollar settlement for the wrongly accused lacrosse players. The very few faculty who tried to protect the students were, of course, ostracized — and some were pursued by Duke in lawsuits, for the alleged “crime” of communicating their concerns with journalists.

                    The entire atmosphere on campus made the witch trials look sane. And nothing’s changed.

        3. It is well documented that Russian disinformation played a large role in the ’16 election

          Uh, Mr. Appleton, here we have Gainesville uttering a statement he knows is false. Just a reminder/

          1. And the Absurdist would gladly cite specific examples of the Mueller report to back up his claim? But of course he won’t because he can’t.

            Elvis Bug

            1. You’ve been making this claim for a couple of years now, uncited.

              Weissman had ample opportunity to delineate any conspiracies in his indictments, but they were all on extraneous matters and process crimes. The one attempt was to indict a bunch of Russian security officials and a Catering company, cases he knew he’d never have to prove in court. That’s a tell. For anyone but you.

              1. Actually a tell is Weissman being shackled by Mueller in going after Trump’s finances. As you say, for anyone but you. Well, that’s not true…, you know the gaping holes in an administration’s investigation into itself but just have an interest in presenting it in a completely different way. A sure testament to your diesel powered dishonesty.

                Elvis Bug

          2. Senate Intel Comm Report from August and under a GOP majority.


            Most effective Russian interference was the Wikileaks DNC emails which dominated news for weeks. Targeted messaging hard to guage. The supposed “Deep State” Czar Comey was the biggest reason for Hillary’s loss however as he revealed an investigation into her while hiding from voters the investigation into the Trump campaign. By standard policy he should have hid both.


          Isn’t that supposed to be a contradiction in terms?

          What are You Tube et al. censoring?

          What is You Tube so desperately afraid of?

          The “truth” perhaps?

          The public release of facts?

          “YouTube removes 8,000 channels promoting false election claims”

          “The platform says it will remove any content that claims widespread voter fraud or errors altered the outcome of the U.S. presidential race”

          – The Washington Post

    3. but that she published statements which she knew or should have known were false regarding the integrity of the electoral process

      He says, uttering a statement he knows or should know is false.

      1. Yes, I noticed that too. It is common to see reports that assume that that issue is settled even though it is not. Part of the effort to twist the narrative, I suppose.

      2. I wondered about that, too, Art. Unless a criminal conviction can be cited, Mike’s statement sounds like an attack on free speech.

    4. Mike, would it be reasonable to expect that those who are pushing the petition would understand that the basics of contract law would preclude the outcomes sought? Also, I notice that with respect to Rep. Stefanik you said “knew or should have known.” I think that it is too soon to come to that conclusion. Was Nancy Pelosi on inquiry notice that more resources were needed at the Capitol on January 6? There is some concern that the House and Senate Sergeants at Arms requested, but denied, reinforcements.

  15. As long as we are revoking degrees shouldn’t MLK’s doctorate be revoked for plagiarizing much of his academic work, including his thesis?

  16. Parler claims Amazon repeatedly asked if Trump had joined its site before shutting Parler down.

    One hopes discovery in Parler’s suit against Amazon gets to communications, if any, between Twitter and Amazon on the decision to lynch Parler.

    Will more evidence be wiped with a cloth or hardware beaten with hammers?

  17. Agreed, Turley. The thrust behind this type of campaign seems to be as much about self justification as about any sort of punishment that could be doled out to intended targets. Look, the advent of trumpism, and the trump presidency, is a legit shameful experience basically shared. Trump was created politically from his iniitial birther venture through his calling in to morning news commentary shows by the main stream media. Whether it was with his birtherism, or granting free air time, the press covered it because of the tabloidism that has increasingly driven the industry. That goes for every network, not just Fox. It’s like America’s racist past came back for what was originally thought to be a cameo but turned into the surrendering of the nation to a corrupt and incompetent businessman. Things got way out of hand at the party as trump dosed the nation with one morally deranged ethical situation after another. We’re in a collective trauma response as the pandemic and economic wreckage of another republican administration grinds up on everyone like trump grinds up against Ivanka in past pictures…

    And the thing is, we’re all equally responsible. HRC would’ve been a far supperior president to trump on every single level and the country couldn’t make it happen. Time to stop the internal finger pointing, realize we all created this insanity and as my ex father law who literally walked out of Hitler’s Germany with a cyanide pill in his pocket as a child often said: don’t think what happened there couldn’t happen here. Trump proved it would take even less than 4 yrs to make big inroads into that jump.

    Elvis Bug

    1. Elvis, I do think taking away earned college degrees is too much, but Trumpists need to be ostracized for their lies. Everyone seems to agree about “Law and Order.” We all know what the law is, but what does “order” stand for? I would think a moral order. Liars should be shunned in order to preserve the moral order.

      1. Agreed, Jeffrey. I think trumpists need to be ostracized for their lies, but i also think the mainstream needs much attention for granting the space for trumpism to take off i.e. the drive for ratings/selling news coverage, etc. Right wing media is obviously the biggest culprit with its blatant whipping up of an uneducated public or with its incendiary emotionalism aimed at an educated public with significant authoritarian/facist tendencies just barely beneath their surface.

        I was pretty convinced that at NBC there was probably an internal mandate to grant trump morning air time because the Apprentice was still on their air and they wanted to boost rating while not thinking it could possibly translate into him actually winning the electoral college. That thinking needs to be equally ostracized.

        Elvis Bug

      1. Maybe if you’d read my post you see i shared my thoughts within the first sentence. But, as I mentioned yesterday, you seem driven to mimic your namesakes’ policy on public masturbation.

        Elvis Bug

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