In 2005, Harvard University insisted upon the resignation of its president, Larry Summers, for his mysogynist comments that women are under-represented in math and science because our abilities in these areas are innately inferior to men's. This is the same type of argument that has been used historically to support slavery, and to suppress the right to vote. Harvard did the right thing by recognizing this kind of hate speech for what it was, and pushing this chauvinist out the door.
But these kinds of inflammatory remarks are par for the course for Summers. In 1991, as the chief economist at the World Bank, Summers came under fire when a memo was leaked in which he suggested that toxic waste be sent to third-world countries because those people have short life expectancies anyway.
Now Summers is in line for the position of Secretary of the Treasury in the Obama administration. This position is likely to be filled in the next few days, so there isn't much time.
Obama's campaign utilized technology in ways that opened completely new channels of communication between the voters and the government. His victory is due, in part, to his responsiveness to his supporters. His victory on Tuesday night is OUR victory, and his presidency should be OUR presidency. I trust Obama to do what is reasonable and right for our country and the world. But that's no reason for us to close the door of communication that he has opened. I believe that he created this grass-roots network of support because he knows that two-way communication between the governed and the government is essential for democracy. This is about more than Larry Summers; it's about that cliche, "the fabric of democracy". We have all lamented the rise of apathy, the cause of which is a deepening sense that we have no say in what our government does. The Iraq war is a case in point. But after this election, we KNOW our voices can be heard. So don't stop yelling! Go to change.gov now to tell Obama what you think about Larry Summers!
Dear President Elect Obama,
I am writing to urge you not to appoint Larry Summers as your Treasury Secretary. As President of Harvard University, this man publicly stated his opinion that the under representation of women in math and science can be accounted for by their inherent lack of aptitude in these fields. Similar versions of this offensive argument have historically been used to justify slavery, and to suppress the right to vote. Harvard University recognized these comments for the hate speech that they were, and made the right choice when it insisted upon Summers' resignation. Views such as these have no place in American leadership at a time when we are poised to make such significant strides forward. On November 4th, a nation filled with hope and the promise of change, elected you to be our president. Now we are calling upon you to make the right choice. Please do not offer this important position to a man whose stated positions represent the antithesis of progress.
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