On Wednesday, the Harvard Kennedy School announced that Manning was going to be one of its visiting fellows for the fall semester. In response to this acknowledgment of Manning’s role as a whistleblower and transgender activist, the intelligence community revolted. Michael Morell, an ex-CIA chief, resigned from his position as a senior fellow, and Mike Pompeo, the current CIA director, canceled a scheduled Harvard talk. Under pressure, Douglas W. Elmendorf, the Kennedy School’s dean, rescinded Manning’s fellowship in the middle of the night.
In response, Manning tweeted the following:
The unfortunate truth is that it was surprising that Harvard invited Manning at all, while its decision to cave to pressure from the CIA is not. College campuses around the country have close ties to the national security apparatus. According to a 2015 report by Vice News on the most militarized universities in America, 100 schools received a combined $3 billion in national security research and development funding. The report calls Harvard, which ranks number 32 on the list, the “king of executive education for the national security elite and mid-management set.”
Whether you agree with her politics or not, Manning is one of the most important voices in the country today. That the president of the United States recently tried to ban transgender people from serving in the military only makes it more necessary to hear from people like Manning.
Harvard decided otherwise. Marginalized communities on college campuses are derided by liberals and conservatives alike for taking political correctness to extremes, but Harvard has shown exactly what they’re up against. The real chilling effect on free speech comes from those with actual power, who receive funding from sources like the military, tech giants, and anti-regulation billionaires like the Koch brothers.
The results speak for themselves. While Manning was pushed out, Corey Lewandowski and Sean Spicer, men who aided in the election of a white supremacist president, remain as incoming visiting fellows. They remain in good stead. This week’s incident only reinforces what so many students at college campuses already know: People like Manning have always been unwelcome at places like Harvard.