Response to Peter H. Irons

Just before Harvard's graduation day back in June, a retired professor from California published a tendentious attack on my dissertation in the Harvard Crimson. I submitted a letter to the editor in response, but the Crimson did not run it. Here is that letter:
I see that Professor Peter H. Irons has written a letter in which he is critical of my dissertation and how it was approved.

In reading the letter, I became fascinated by the professor’s peculiar sense of scholarly ethics. For example, in stark contrast to Professor Irons, I can say that I personally would never do any of the following:

1. Question the process by which another scholar's dissertation was approved even though I had no knowledge of that process.

2. Publicly criticize that scholar's work despite not having any expertise in the area myself.

3. Structure my critique as just a restatement of what the author supposedly wrote, trusting my audience to agree that all of it is self-evidently wrong.

4. Not bother to restate the dissertation's arguments in a way that could be considered even remotely fair to the author.

5. Make blatantly false statements, such as claiming the dissertation "included no original research."

As a scholar I would never do these things. Then again, Professor Irons is more than four decades older than me. Maybe ethical standards were just different in his time.