ACADEMIC FREEDOM IN IRAN AND AT HARVARD: Ahmadinejad Calls for Ouster of Liberal and Secular Professors; Khatami Speaks on Tolerance
Iranian President Ahmadinejad called Tuesday for the ouster of liberal and secular professors from his nation's universities. [HT: Yoni the Blogger.]
Meanwhile, here in the United States, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney announced today that the State of Massachusetts will not provide any police protection for former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami when Khatami speaks at the Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. In an interview on the Hugh Hewitt show this afternoon, Governor and GOP Presidential Candidate Romney affirmed that Harvard has the right to invite anyone it chooses to speak, but stated in that interview and in his public announcement, "State taxpayers should not be providing special treatment to an individual who supports violent jihad and the destruction of Israel.'' Governor Romney also noted that Khatami was hypocritically scheduled to speak on the topic "Ethics of Tolerance in the Age of Violence."
Harvard of course reacted by patting itself on the back for its liberal-minded commitment to academic freedom and open dialogue. In a statement, the university responded, "Governor Romney has been a friend of the school, and has spoken here in the past. We can understand and often share his disagreement with the positions of Khatami; the school nonetheless believes that active and open dialogue are a critical part of effective education and policy.''
Please tell that to former Harvard University President Lawrence Summers. After Summers merely posed the possibility that one of several reasons for the disproportionate percentages of men over women on university engineering and science faculties might be sex-based variations in intelligence, the Harvard Faculty Senate passed motions of no-confidence and censure against him. He resigned under pressure as President of Harvard on June 30, 2006. Apparently, Harvard's commitment to active and open dialogue did not apply to President Summers.
It quite likely that Mohammad Khatami's commitment to increasing the number of women on university faculties is substantially weaker than that of Professor Summers. Nonetheless, as an avowed enemy of the Great Satan (the United States) and the Little Satan (Israel), Khatami is welcome to speak his mind at Harvard, especially at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. This is, after all, the school whose academic dean, Stephen Walt, is the co-author of "The Israel Lobby," an essay blaming the pro-Israel activities of the American Jewish community for distorting American foreign policy and damaging America's interests. That essay earned Professor Walt and his co-author an appearance on August 28 at a forum at the National Press Club, at the invitation of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. There they demonstrated their academic objectivity by donning buttons that read, "Fight the Israel Lobby."
In this academic atmosphere, Professor Khatami should feel right at home. An August 31, 2006 editorial in the New York Sun made this point-by-point comparison of the views of Professor Khatami and Professor Walt:
• Mr. Khatemi told CNN in January 1998, "The impression of the people of the Middle East and Muslims in general is that certain foreign policy decisions of the United States are in fact made in Tel Aviv, and not in Washington." Mr. Walt wrote, "The bottom line is that AIPAC, which is a de facto agent for a foreign government, has a stranglehold on the U.S. Congress."
• Mr. Khatemi told CNN, "I regret to say that the improper American policy of unbridled support for the aggression of a racist, terrorist regime does not serve the United States interest, nor does it even serve those of the Jewish people." Mr. Walt wrote, "This extraordinary generosity might be understandable if Israel were a vital strategic asset or if there were a compelling moral case for sustained U.S. backing. But neither rationale is convincing."
• Mr. Khatemi told CNN, "Israeli intransigence and the course of the current peace process and its failure to honor its own undertakings has enraged even the United States' allies in the region." Mr. Walt wrote of "the obvious need to rebuild America's image in the Arab and Islamic world."
• Mr. Khatemi has spoken of "the criminal Zionist regime." Mr. Walt said: "the creation of Israel entailed a moral crime against the Palestinian people."
• In April 2001, the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Mr. Khatemi as saying, "As a parasite, Zionism is founded on the fallacious concepts of superiority and the transgression of human rights." Mr. Walt wrote, "Israel was explicitly founded as a Jewish state and citizenship is based on the principle of blood kinship."
The New York Sun editorial also questioned former President Khatami's commitment to academic freedom: "What in the world is a man who presided over the July 9, 1999, crackdown on Tehran University, where hundreds of students were arrested and tortured, doing speaking about 'tolerance' at a university?" Apparently, former President Khatami and his successor President Ahmadinejad are in complete agreement regarding how to deal with active and open dialogue on the Iranian university campus.
Khatami is the darling of United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan for promulgating a theory of "Dialogue Among Civilizations" in response to Professor Samuel P. Huntington's theory that the current conflict pitting Islam against the secular western world represents a "Clash of Civilizations." In January 2006, Khatami officially inaugurated the office of the "International Center of Dialogue Among Civilizations", an non-governmental organization with offices in Iran and Europe that he will head. It is no doubt in this capacity as an advocate of international understanding that he has received the invitation to speak at Harvard. Harvard therefore once again assumes, in the war against Islamic Facism, the role that so many American academic elites played during the Cold War, when they promoted peaceful co-existence with Communism, the role so aptly described by Lenin: "Useful idiots."