In 2020 Prof. Abbot made YouTube videos advocating to treat people as individuals and hiring them on that basis rather than on group identity. Then on August 12, 2021, Abbott published an op-ed in Newsweek advocating Merit, Fairness, and Equality (MFE) in place of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) for faculty hiring and promotion. It was this article in particular that gained Prof. Abbot national attention and notoriety. What did he say in this article that created such a negative reaction?
The editorial is not that long, but here is the bullet point summary of what he said.
MFSA takes no position on any controversial issue, scientific or otherwise. It is the position of MFSA that all such issues, including the justification for current DEI policies, should be open to civil debate and discourse which focuses on the underlying rationale and evidence bearing on the issue.
It is ironic that Prof. Abbot was vilified, and had his MIT lecture cancelled, because he expressed opinions that are now, two year later, the law of the land. The recent US Supreme Court decision outlawed the use of racial preferences, the cornerstone of DEI and a target for Prof. Abbot's article, in college undergraduate admissions. Following that principle, identity group preferences will be illegal for faculty hiring and promotion, and for graduate school admissions. Surveys continue to show the overwhelming majority of Americans agree with Prof. Abbot. It is unfortunate that the MIT administration did not respect that this issue remains contentious in America and that it deserves more discussion, not the suppression of one viewpoint.