A few clicks away from the homepage of Harvard’s prestigious medical school, one finds among their “anti-racism initiatives” the following: “We will develop new classes for master’s and PhD students to acknowledge the ways in which racism is embedded in science.” What in the world does it even mean to say that racism is "embedded" in science? It has been pursued, certainly, by flawed people—but science is the pursuit of universal truth. It cannot itself be racist. At best, such classes will simply be a waste of time. At worst, as the language above suggests, they will attempt to indoctrinate students by teaching them that they, and the medicine they practice, are inherently racist.
Not even mathematics, the most rigorous and least ideological of the STEM disciplines, is unscathed. Harvard’s math department is currently implementing suggestions from last year’s town hall concerning “diversity and anti-oppression.” It is suggested to no longer require the GRE for graduate admissions, and, shockingly, to “reform Math 55 culture and content” for the sake of “promoting equity.” Now, Math 55 is known as the hardest undergraduate math class in the country—some years more than half the class does not finish. The rationale underlying these suggestions is unmistakable: there are not enough women and minorities succeeding in the department, so let us lower the standards to make our classes and programs more diverse. Such thinking has become disturbingly common. It's both condescending and an open admission that diversity is more important than rigorous education. Is it lamentable that some years Math 55 has no women? Perhaps. But that is preferable to encouraging students to take it who may not succeed or lowering the standards for all.