Tuesday, July 01, 2008

For the Love of Despots

A friend of mine is trying to talk her son out of applying to Harvard. They gave a platform to former Iranian President Khatami. Of course, David Ellwood, the dean of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, had the noblest of motives for inviting an Islamic tyrant to Harvard:
``Do we listen to those that we disagree with, and vigorously challenge them, or do we close our ears completely?" said David Ellwood, the Kennedy School's dean, in an interview with the Globe.
My, how inspirational. I wonder if Ellwood's challenge to Khatami did any good. I doubt it. But this isn't the first questionable guest to speak at Harvard. Back in the 1930s, Harvard was quite a welcoming campus to Nazis.
The Harvard University administration during the 1930s, led by President James Conant, ignored numerous opportunities to take a principled stand against the Hitler regime and the antisemitic outrages it perpetrated, and contributed to Nazi Germany's efforts to improve its image in the West. The administration's lack of concern about Nazi antisemitism was shared by many influential Harvard alumni and students. A faculty panel that supervised a mock trial of Hitler in 1934 ruled that Hitler's anti-Jewish actions were "irrelevant" to the debate. Nazi leaders were warmly welcomed to the Harvard campus and invited to prestigious social events, as the Harvard administration strove to build friendly relations with thoroughly Nazified universities in Germany. By doing so, Harvard's administration and many of its student leaders offered important encouragement to the Hitler regime as it intensified its persecution of the Jews and strengthened its armed forces.
And that was only the beginning. Read the rest of the article and see how far Harvard actually sunk. And we must not forget another anti-Semitic episode at Harvard.
In 1922, Harvard's president, A. Lawrence Lowell, proposed a quota on the number of Jews gaining admission to the university. Lowell was convinced that Harvard could only survive if the majority of its students came from old American stock. Lowell argued that cutting the number of Jews at Harvard to a maximum of 15% would be good for the Jews, because limits would prevent further anti-Semitism. Lowell reasoned, “The anti-Semitic feeling among the students is increasing, and it grows in proportion to the increase in the number of Jews. If their number should become 40% of the student body, the race feeling would become intense.”
Oops! It was for our own good. My apologies to Harvard for questioning its motives. I'm sure Iran wants to nuke Israel "for its own good" too. Their biggest fault is that they care too much for Jews. Just like Stephen Walt. To Harvard's credit, they've distanced themselves from Walt.

And then there's Columbia University, who invited the current president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak. There was quite a debate going at the time, but in the end, he spoke at Columbia. And hey, guess what, back in the 1930s, Columbia (in the interests of free speech, I'm sure) also had ties to the Nazis.
* Columbia invited Nazi ambassador Hans Luther to speak on campus in 1933 (about Hitler's "peaceful intentions") and university president Nicholas Murray Butler hosted a reception for him;

* Columbia continued student exchanges with Nazi-controlled German universities in the 1930s, even after a Nazi official characterized German exchange students as "political soldiers of the Reich";

* Columbia sent a delegate to a celebration at the University of Heidelberg in 1936, even after it had been purged of Jewish faculty members, instituted a Nazi curriculum, and hosted a burning of books by Jewish authors; and

* Columbia permanently expelled student Robert Burke after he led an anti-Nazi rally outside President Butler's mansion.
But we shouldn't make a big deal out of it because,
Columbia Provost Alan Brinkley told the online journal Inside Higher Ed (Nov. 27): "If the events that Professor Norwood describes are examples of ‘collaboration,’ then the collaborators include many thousands of leaders and citizens of the United States, Britain, and many other nations."

In other words, "Everyone-was-doing-it, so don't blame us."
This is not a condemnation of American higher education. I'm just questioning the morality of those in charge of two prestigious American universities. They do seem to love their dictators. And don't forget Larry Summers was purgedfrom Harvard for not toeing the official party line. Why do they have to make excuses to give platforms to thugs and murderers? I think I would try to talk my children out of going to either of those universities too.

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At 10:38 PM, Blogger Pen of Jen said...

Well I agree with you and sadly believe that the majority of our universities are the same. The agenda of becoming paternal and doing what is best for the student body is nothing more than Big Brother and a sham.

I wish I didn't see it this way, but times have really changed and I cannot ever see it the way I did when I myself attended OSU.

Oh and the antisemitism is increasing in leaps and bounds. I no longer recognize many things anymore. What is going on??

At 12:44 PM, Blogger Harry said...

I almost tried to talk my son out of going to college, especially with the insanely escalating costs. The increase in anti-Semitism has me more worried for my children than for myself. And I don't think that would be as bad if so many prominent Jews didn't play along with it.


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