Has the academy gone berserk? Or maybe just Grinnell College in Iowa.
We owe it to the New York Times that we are aware of the fact that, among
other eminences who received honorary degrees and spoke for their
plaudits, was one Angela Davis. Yes, Angela Davis. That Angela Davis.
No, this is not a case of mistaken identity. And the Grinnell publicity for her--distorted though it is, as if she were a fighter for freedom
rather than a fighter for totalitarianism--does report by and by that she
was for many years a member of the Communist Party USA. And that in 1980 and in 1984, three decades after Nikita Krushchev's "secret" speech denouncing (only some of) the crimes of the Stalin era, she ran as the Communist candidate for vice president with the Stalinist hack and long-time party chairman William Z. Foster running for president.
Of course, she has altered her message somewhat. But it is the message of her life that is the disgrace honored by the college. "Angela Davis is a living witness to the historic struggles of the contemporary era," said her Doctor of Humane Letters citation. She did not witness but instead supported the totalitarians of the age. This could be a joke ... or maybe
should be. But too many millions of writers and scholars and scientists
and just plain workers and peasants were murdered by the regime to which she gave her ardor. This is, then, an intellectual and moral scandal for Grinnell and it should hang its banners in shame.