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In scrapping professor’s lecture, MIT gives us a good look at the ills of cancel culture

Students walk across campus at MIT in this March 2020 file photo.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

It is disturbing to see that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the greatest institutions of learning in the world, has canceled a speaking invitation it had extended because of pressure from groups who object to the lecturer’s political views (“MIT cancels speech talk by visiting professor: Outrage over diversity views sparks move,” Metro, Oct. 14) How can it be that an institution of MIT’s stature is so lacking in vision, confidence, and strength of purpose that it succumbs to these groups’ complaints and threats?

And what are the professor’s offenses? He has stated that university evaluations of students should be based on academic merit, not on membership in an underrepresented identity group. He doesn’t oppose increased diversity; he opposes some of the methods used to try to achieve it.


If higher education matters at all, universities should be seeking out, not silencing, speakers who confront controversial ideas, including those whose perspective on them is unpopular. How else to nurture original and significant thought among students?

I’m only hoping that the national outrage provoked by MIT’s stunning move will open eyes that had not before seen the destructiveness of the so-called cancel culture. Maybe enough eyes will be opened to start turning the tide against it.

Susan Krieger

Jamaica Plain