Over 900 Harvard University alumni have signed an open letter slamming the Kennedy School of Government's Institute of Politics for bestowing visiting fellowships on former Trump operatives Corey Lewandowski and Sean Spicer.
The petitioners wrote that Lewandowski and Spicer "willfully furthered the interests of misogyny and white supremacy" through their work as the Trump campaign manager and White House communications director.
"While representing a spectrum of ideas is important for a complete political education, the IOP must acknowledge its own power in conveying an imprimatur of intellectual and moral legitimacy—in this case, to those who have done much to degrade public discourse in this country, re-ignite white nationalism, and further reactionary policies that harm millions," wrote the petitioners.
One letter organizer, Talia Lavin, alluded to the hypocrisy of Kennedy School of Government Dean Doug J. Elmendorf stripping military leaker Chelsea Manning of a similar honor last week, but not doing the same to Lewandowski and Spicer.
"[In the Manning decision, the IOP] admitted that the title of visiting fellow conveys a certain imprimatur of legitimacy. So they're tacitly granting the same imprimatur of legitimacy to Spicer and Lewandowski, and I just don't think that's acceptable," Lavin told Harvard's the Crimson.
Another leader of the petition campaign, Paul VanKoughnett, said he acted because he "worried that the further normalization of these men and of Trumpist ideas are going to have awful material effects on people in the real world."
The letter writers said, "If we wish to represent the interests of those outside our secular, Northeastern, urbanite bubble, why not extend an invitation to any of the hundreds of religious, Southern, Western, or rural leaders across the country who are working to protect those under threat from the de facto ethnic cleansing advanced by Lewandowski's and Spicer's former employer?"
The petition was delivered Monday to both Elmendorf and university president Drew Faust.
A separate letter, co-signed by over a dozen Harvard student groups, called the revocation of Manning's visiting fellowship status "a classic case of selective outrage." The co-signers criticized the IOP for keeping on Lewandowski, who was charged with assault of a female reporter while working for the campaign, while not standing by Manning, who the letter praised for her "selfless sacrifices as a whistleblower, her dedication to the truth, and her commitment to human rights."
Manning, a transgender former Army soldier, was imprisoned for seven years for leaking classified military documents to WikiLeaks, before receiving an early pardon from President Barack Obama.
Late last week, the honor was withdrawn.