Well, I snarked at Harvard's Afro-Am Department and it turns out that much of what I said is false. It is true that Gates has chosen to make all the appointments joint, but that is simply to maximize the number of people he can include on the rolls, not as a statement that Afro-Am is not an authentic field. My casual remark that Harvard can "decomission the Department" any time it wishes is just not true at Harvard. Decomissioning a department would require a full-scale faculty review. If I had thought about it I would have realized that -- I am afraid I was speaking polemically rather than accurately.
My apologies to all and sundry. I still have grave doubts about Gates' vision for the department, but that is standard operating procedure in the Academy, as anyone familiar with Philosophy will attest [the very worst thing you can say about a Philosophy Department with which you have issues is "They don't do Philosophy." The folks in the UMass Department used to say that all the time about me.]
I feel badly because what I said about Harvard was really ancillary to the central thrust of the post, and I would hate for my inaccuracies to detract from that message.