“A White Male Would Probably Already Be Gone”

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'Yesterday, journalist Christopher Brunet and I broke a story examining evidence that strongly suggests that Harvard president Claudine Gay plagiarized multiple sections of her Ph.D. dissertation, according to Harvard’s own academic integrity policies. One of the scholars that Gay used material from in at least two instances was Carol Swain, who has served as a professor at Princeton and Vanderbilt. Swain is also known as one of America’s most prominent black conservatives and has published scholarly work criticizing race-based preferences and affirmative action.

This morning, I spoke with Swain, who said that she saw “a clear pattern of what one would consider plagiarism in Dr. Gay’s thesis” and called into question Gay’s continued service as Harvard’s president. The following transcript has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Christopher Rufo: What are your thoughts about the Claudine Gay plagiarism accusations?

Carol Swain: What is bothering me is not just that there’s passages she didn’t put in quotation marks. When I look at her work, I feel like her whole research agenda, her whole career, was based on my work. It bothers me because I know that my work was a big deal in the early 1990s. And I started falling out of favor in 1995 when I started criticizing race-based affirmative action. I thought affirmative action should be means-tested and race-neutral. When I started putting those ideas out, that’s when I started falling out of favor and getting labeled as a conservative, even while I was a Democrat, and blacks started attacking me, calling me a “sellout.”
Swain: The board of trustees needs to deal with those issues. They need to apply the same standards to her as they would apply to a white person under the same circumstances.

Rufo: And under these circumstances, what do you think would happen to a white person?

Swain: A white male would probably already be gone.'

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