Columbia U., Meet Trump U.

January 14, 2017
Posted by Jay Livingston

In academia, we’re tough on plagiarism, especially when it runs to more than just a copied sentence or two. Plagiarism is one of those areas where we lean towards moral clarity rather than wishy-washy liberal moral relativism. I think.

I’m putting my syllabus together, and it looks like I’ll have to make a change in my boilerplate about plagiarism,

Plagiarism and cheating on papers or tests will result in a 0 for that assignment and perhaps an F for the course. But it may also get you a job with Donald Trump.

In case you hadn’t heard, Monica Crowley,  Trump’s choice to be U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communicationsplagiarized big chunks of her Columbia Ph.D. thesis. . She has excellent conservative credentials. She worked for Nixon and more recently for Fox News. She has said that Huma Abedin’s parents were “essentially tools of the Saudi regime.” Her views of the Syrian refugee crisis were also straight from right field.  She wrote in the Washington Times  that “The EU is apparently intent on committing continental suicide” by letting in so many Muslims.  They “are using the European Union’s open doors-open borders policy to reach the West for social welfare and the longer-term goal of spreading Islam.”

Crowley is a serial plagiarist. It wasn’t just her Ph.D. thesis. Her book What the (Bleep) Just Happened had at least “fifty instances of copying directly from conservative columns, news articles, Wikipedia and in one case a podiatrist’s website.” (Politico) The Wall Street Journal published her 1998 column, an appreciation of Nixon, which borrowed considerably from a Commentary article some years earlier by Paul Johnson.

When Trump appointed her, she spoke of his “vision, courage, and moral clarity.” That figures. She obviously shares Trump’s vision of Muslims. And now it’s clear she shares a similar morality. So it’s almost certain that she’ll keep her job, nor will the plagiarism damage her standing among conservatives. Academics, by contrast, take plagiarism more seriously – usually. Columbia has not said a word about whether the university might rescind her doctorate. Columbia is a prestigious Ivy League school. I guess it remains to be seen whether their standards are as high as those of Montclair State.

Here is a screenshot of just part of the thesis plagiarism as highlighted by Politico, which has many other examples.

(Click for a larger view.)

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