This story is part of The Crimson's Ten Stories That Shaped 2020 series. To view other parts, click here.
Government preceptor David D. Kane invited social scientist Charles A. Murray ’65 to speak to students in Government 50: “Data” in October, provoking outrage among faculty and students and rekindling debate over free speech and conservatism on campus.
In his guest lecture, Murray — whose work the Southern Poverty Law Center has termed “racist pseudoscience” — spoke about his new book “Human Diversity: The Biology of Gender, Race, and Class,” which challenges the notions that race and gender are social constructs and that class is a function of privilege.
Days before Murray spoke to Gov 50, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay told The Crimson she believed Murray’s scholarship lacks academic merit. Harvard faculty present for Murray’s talk discredited his methodologies and findings.
Kane’s invitation to Murray thrust the Gov 50 preceptor into the spotlight. Harvard undergraduates discovered racist blog posts allegedly authored by Kane under the pseudonym “David Dudley Field ’25” on his website EphBlog. Entries published by “Field” on the website allude to “Black Supremacy” in the NBA, claim more than 90 percent of Black students at Williams College would not have been admitted if it were not for their “Black’ness” [sic], and criticize Williams College’s condemnation of the white supremacist group Identity Evropa without similar condemnation of the Black Lives Matter and Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movements. In 2014, “David Dudley Field ’25” authored a post on the blog that was signed “David Kane ’88.” Kane, who graduated from Williams College in 1988, founded EphBlog in 2003 for Williams affiliates.
The discovery prompted Gov 50 teaching fellows and students alike to boycott Kane’s course lectures and to circulate a petition to remove Kane from his teaching position, which garnered roughly 700 signatures and was endorsed by the Undergraduate Council. Several faculty members deemed the blog posts “horrible” and “deeply disturbing.”
Student concerns led the Government department to launch a review into the allegations leveled against Kane. Days later, the department installed Government professor Kosuke Imai as the new course head. As part of the arrangement, Kane continued to teach optional lectures and the Registrar’s Office relaxed its policies regarding the Add/Drop deadline and associated fee.
—Staff writer Tracy Jiang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @_tracyjiang_.
—Staff writer Christina T. Pham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @Christina_TPham.