Lawrence M. Krauss

Tales From the Gulag

Written by Lawrence M. Krauss |
Tuesday, November 9, 2021
Only by speaking out…can we try and dismantle the current strangle-hold that DEI [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion] bureaucracies have on researchers and students alike and restore academic freedom and excellence as the hallmarks of science and education.

A couple of weeks ago I published an article in the Wall Street Journal describing the tyranny that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) bureaucracies are imposing on universities and scientific institutions. This includes excluding talented scientists who are not effective enough in displaying their DEI allegiance, enforcing ideological adherence among faculty and students, and suppressing debate on the topics of merit, quotas, free speech, and a range of gender and race issues.
In that article, I gave a piece of partial evidence of the gulag-like environment currently existing in higher education. Numerous faculty responded to an earlier Wall Street Journal piece by me about ideological corruption in science, through emails in which they indicated they were writing under pseudonym accounts out of fear that colleagues or university officials might find out that they supported my concerns.
Happily, in response to my most recent piece, no respondents suggested they were shielding their identities, although a number indicated they were writing from their “non-university” email addresses—just in case—or felt comforted by now being retired and free to write. What they present, in summary, is a chilling perspective of the pervasive and divisive atmosphere that is continuing to develop in educational and scientific institutions. I felt it worth sharing a number of these perspectives, after having consulted the individuals involved. Unless otherwise directed, I have worked to ensure the anonymity of my correspondents.
Numerous correspondents wrote to me concerned about their specific areas of scholarship. Particularly worrying were emails from those in the medical and legal professions.
Here’s one from a professor at a very prominent US medical school:
Dear Dr Krauss,Your op-ed in WSJ barely touched the problem of DEI in American biomedical science and clinical practice. The societies (e.g., Amer Society of Cell Biology) and the journals (esp Elsevier) are rife with DEImania. This is affecting clinical medicine. It is the death spiral of American medicine, with unintended consequences for the very groups it is supposed to help.What can one do?
While this is concerned in more general terms with possible impacts on the field, a very poignant email from another professor in a biomedical field illustrates the personal impact that this environment of fear and suppression is taking on the psyche of scientific researchers:
I feel like the turtle in the picture with the neck out and about to get chopped … It is strange to me that this is happening because I am a Hispanic woman with Spanish, North African, Chinese, and Native American ancestry that speaks four languages and has lived everywhere in the world, so I should be the pinnacle of what DEI is aspiring for. Nevertheless, I am experiencing the tyranny of DEI because it is not about diversity of race or sex but more about a loyalty test. This will not last forever, but the question is how much damage this will do … This year has been an authoritarian year full of tyrannical mandates and intolerance. I have never experienced having moral (mandatory DEI trainings that forces me to affirm things that go against my conscience), medical, or religious tests in order to work before this year. Innovation and intellectual greatness come as a result of freedom. Suppression of speech and ideas will result in a reduction of greatness and innovation. Freedom of speech can only be real freedom if speech that we do not agree with is allowed. Let’s include diversity of thought and ideology in what you want to protect.
Beyond academia, I wrote about the growing inhibitory impact of DEI mandates in scientific institutions, including private ones like the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In this regard, I received the following email from an HHMI employee that sent shivers down my spine:
Dr. Krauss, I am a HHMI employee and I am grateful to you for your WSJ piece. The lowest point for me was February 8th this year, when all employees were expected to read Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America by Ijeoma Oluo. Ms. Oluo led a virtual talk that day for all HHMI employees. I trust that you know that the core motivation for HHMI’s DEI effort is to preempt any liability or negative press for two major discrimination lawsuits against HHMI by female Asian scientists. The journal Science covered these two lawsuits on 12/18/2019. Thank you again.
When it came to law schools and DEI, I received several emails from law school professors saying that the piece resonated with their own experience. I received two other legal-related responses that are of particular interest.
The first was from a student at a California law school. Several cases of law professors who have been caught up in unwarranted DEI adjudications of racism are well known and have been written about, including by me. However, the impact on their students is not so well known. Here is the email I received:
After reading your WSJ piece on “Diversity” as tyranny, I wanted to thank you for writing it. I know that took courage, especially in this political environment. Your discussion of “monomania” hit close to home. I’m a law student at [law school name omitted], and this week a brilliant torts professor has come under fire for baseless claims of racism. I wrote a letter to our DEI office defending him, though I doubt it will help.
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