Check out the hero’s journey in the Twitter bio of Mary Drummer.
Are you impressed? You’re supposed to be.
Mary is impressed. She is stuffed with self-regard, and she literally cannot imagine you feeling anything but the same sense of marvel and reverence and admiration that she feels when she reflects on her being “Harvard published.”
It’s sort of like when a toddler grabs your hand and drags you off the couch toward the toilet. How they are almost horizontal to the floor and saying “C’mon! C’mon!”, so eager to show you the poopie they made. Pointing at it with sheer excitement and looking up at you, searching your face for evidence of amazement and approval.
But of course Mary is not a toddler. And so it seems that, in her third decade of life, the felt need to show off to people the poopie she made manifests as just sort of humblebragging in her Twitter bio and wearing cartoonish eyewear that is meant to pre-empt and neutralize anyone’s idea that she takes herself too seriously or that she might be the sort of person who desperately clings to status markers like Harvard University.
Except that that is exactly the sort of person that Mary Drummer is. She is aware enough to know the dictate of crafting an ironic detachment from her deep-seated feelings of superiority, but not quite aware enough to know how completely transparent that whole calculated affectation is to everyone who is not in the little club that she’s in.
Ah, but the beauty of being in that club is that you get to be made to feel that the truest, most indisputable thing in the world is that those people who are outside of it simply do not matter whatsoever. That what those outsiders believe and what they say— despite whatever evidence they may submit to support their criticisms—does not warrant a mote of your concern because, as a member of the club, you know you have the full backing of an institution that’ll do whatever it needs to do in order to keep up the absurd farce that what you’re a part of isn’t purely a vehicle for sponsored opinion.
Mary Drummer is among those who are first in line when the call goes out for beings who place affiliation before principle. That’s the only way to honestly characterize those who—as Drummer was— were involved with Disinformation creep, a journal article so breathtakingly stupid and wholly contra to reality that its publication should fill you with a kind of disgusted fascination before emptying you of all faith in academia. The existence of a journal like Misinformation Review (where Disinformation creep appears) ought to vanquish any suspicion that academia is not a site of graft and teeming corruption, and which is—beneath all the noble-sounding bullshit—simply a cesspit of strivers trying to realize their desire for social gain and popularity.
And when that reality is struggling to be brought up to the surface (as is now happening because of the #ADOS movement’s refusal to be lied on in front of the whole world without reprisal), being in the club means that Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center is there like a mother’s soft hand on its researchers’ cheeks.
Yes, the affiliation with Harvard assures these people that there is no need to acknowledge, no need to engage, no need to worry; they can be very secure in the awareness that they will never need to consider the fundamental dishonesty of what they’ve just done. It wraps them in a warm blanket of certainty that Misinformation Review‘s circulation is for people who have absolutely zero interest in looking for the actual facts of what’s presented to them in its pages, they only want their assumptions parroted back to them, and so go ahead and say literally whatever the hell you want as long as it helps kill whatever glimmering possibility of repair is happening outside of the official channels of power. Make shit up, confident that you are backed by the highly-extolled institution of topsider-wearing liberals and classes that explore African female power through the lens of a Beyonce album. Throw literally fucking anything at the wall and do not give a second’s thought to what it might mean for your credibility; being in good with the propagana appendage of Harvard Kennedy School means never having to say “I’m sorry.”
For the past week now, a staggering number of tweets have demonstrated how, in so many ways, Disinformation creep directly contradicts the journal’s own professed ethic of truth-telling. We should be absolutely amazed that we are even having a discussion about a retraction of the article, one which is so thoroughly contaminated with lies. The fact that it has gotten to this point is evidence of the utter failure of academia to perform its most basic function, and the ongoing reticence of Harvard Kennedy School and those at the Shorenstein Center attests to just how immensely disdainful and actively hostile they are to Black Americans seeking to tell their story and properly inform the public.
Calling for the retraction of a journal article is not as sexy as marching on Washington. It is tempting to think that this particular journal article’s goofy bullshit—its total lack of integrity—will be its own undoing and that it will simply go away. It will not, because that is not how the world is made to work. The gravitas of Harvard—artificial and empty though it most certainly is—will override and eclipse everything. And I promise you that if Harvard cannot be compelled to issue a retraction on something as verifiably bereft of fact as this, then the reparations project beyond this moment faces unimaginably grim prospects. The implications of this thing could not be more significant, and the movement has put in way too much work, and is at way too pivotal a moment right now, to throttle down on full-throatedly demanding that Harvard retract.
Make no mistake: Harvard set out to destroy the #ADOS movement. Let’s keep calling. Let’s keep e-mailing. Let’s keep faxing. Let’s keep tweeting. Harvard’s path to victory is paved only with the dismissal of such work.