Allies of President Trump criticized a Harvard University petition demanding “accountability” from Trump administration alumni who give speeches or teach at that university.
“Will I be banned from speaking at Harvard?” longtime Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, a member of Trump’s legal team during the impeachment proceedings, tweeted. “The media has reported that Harvard students are circulating a petition to ban anyone who worked for the White House (me) from speaking at Harvard University. McCarthyism?”
Will I be banned from speaking at Harvard? The media has reported that Harvard students are circulating a petition to ban anyone who worked for the White House (me) from speaking at Harvard University. McCarthyism? Watch the Dershow. Call me 216-710-0050.https://t.co/v2rxR0yTkD
Dershowitz also said that the petition represented “the worst kind of thought control.”
The letter argues that “a complete disregard for the truth is a defining feature of many decisions made by this administration,” citing attempts by Trump’s legal team to undermine faith in the election process and the president’s refusal to acknowledge President-elect Joe Biden as the victor of the 2020 election as legal challenges play out.
“We worry that in following tradition and inviting members of the Trump administration to Harvard, the school would be legitimizing this subversion of democratic principles that up to now had been universally accepted by both political parties,” the letter reads. “That is why today we are asking you to set up a system of accountability for high-level political appointees and Trump administration consultants before they are invited as fellows or to teach or speak on campus. These accountability guidelines should be publicly shared with students by the end of the calendar year.”
It’s unclear how many signatures the petition has garnered — or who wrote it.
In order for the petition to take effect, the university’s student council bodies would need to vote on a measure adopting the petition’s language, sending it to the school administrators to decide whether it becomes university policy, according to Fox Business. Students at the Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Divinity School have reportedly approved the petition, but Harvard’s Kennedy School rejected the open letter.
Carter Estes, a member of the Kennedy School’s student government, told Fox Business that the petition started in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and that its earliest version “called for an outright ban on Trump appointees before the language was toned down.”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, a Harvard Law School alumna, demanded that the university reject the letter.
“I hope the administration stands firm against this sort of call for censorship among the students,” McEnany said during an interview with Fox Business. “Our academic communities should be bastions of free speech and the countering and jousting of ideas, not the censorship of a viewpoint that you feel is unpalatable.”