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The Mail


To the Editors of the CRIMSON:

The recent black sit-in over Planning 113-b has been decried as one of the greatest blows to academic freedom since the McCarthy era. Shortly after the incident, I happened to be visiting a large Southern city and found that news of the incident had preceeded me there . . . .

Black students did not enter Hunt Hall to negate the concept of "academic freedom." Their intention was rather to suggest to the University that such a blatant insult to their integrity as the proposed course would cause a breakdown in the relationship between black students and the University; to further suggest that academic freedom could not be used as a pretext for degrading the black community at Harvard or across the U.S. When 109 supposedly intelligent men can condone the perpetration of such an obvious insult, under the guise of "academic freedom," then it is time to seriously question and re-define that concept.

Would the same professors have maintained, for example, that Adolf Hitler had the right to teach in German universities that Jews were inferior and should be exterminated? Where does one draw the line between human dignity and integrity and "academic freedom?"

Forgive me for having mentioned "human dignity." I almost forgot that it has been stated in a recent Harvard publication that blacks are "genetically inferior." I am referring, of course, to Arthur A. Jensen's article on black inferiority (Harvard Educational Review), which reads more like the gossip column of a South African newspaper, than like a purportedly scientific document. What is a black man to think of this institution when such a scandalous article is allowed to go unchallenged by the same professor who signed the Hunt Hall counter protest--some of whom were eminent geneticists. I suppose it takes a little guts to speak out against the majority opinion. Be silent then, but do not expect that the black community will accept such insult as a mere expression of "academic freedom."

Since the appearance of Jensen's article, friends at Oxford & Cambridge, McGill, and the University of the West Indies have written to me and seriously questioned the merits of an institution which could allow its name to be appended to such an article. In true American style, Southern courts have already begun to quote the article as fact. I suspect, too, that our friends in South Africa will exult when they read it. All things considered, the article should go a long way toward establishing cordial relations between black statesmen and educators around the world and Harvard and the Americans.

In retrospect, two very indicative events have taken place at Harvard in the last month. The Minister of Education of a small foreign country with whom I discussed them recently, put the situation very well when he said, "Harvard has succeeded in attracting many 'learned' professors, but there seems to be a paucity of 'educated' ones.' E. A. Layne '69

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