Saturday, September 09, 2006

Would Harvard Have Hosted Hitler?

According to Alan Dershowitz enemies of the U.S. are welcome:

Both [David] Duke and Khatami are racists with extremist and violent designs for repressing political dissent and ethnic opposition. Only Khatami, though, has had a chance to put his designs into effect. Khatami, however, is seen as a virulent enemy of the US administration, and therein may lie some of the discrepancy in receptiveness afforded by the Kennedy School.

I won't catalog Khatami's long history of hateful deeds and proclamations. I'm eager to hear Khatami's explanation for his and his country's treatment of women, homosexuals, secularists, Baha'i, and student reformers. And I am confident that Harvard's student body will have the courage to ask Khatami the sorts of questions that mainstream media interviewers have either avoided or have let Khatami evade with empty platitudes.

At the end of the day, Khatami will speak at Harvard, because Americans believe in and enjoy the sorts of academic liberties and openness to ideas that Khatami himself did so much to squash when he was in power. That's as it should be. I only hope that those in the Kennedy School who invited Khatami did so out of a genuine commitment to unqualified open dialogue, rather than the belief that offensiveness to some groups is more deserving of solicitude than is offensiveness to others, or worse yet, substantive agreement with some of Khatami's oppressive worldview.

It's that kind of optimistic view (or were you been slyly ironic?), Dr. Dershowitz, that average people find laughable. Harvard would no more invite David Duke than they would invite the President of the Southern Baptist Convention to their esteemed institution.

This invitation is not about "academic liberties" and "openness to ideas". This invitation is about being friends with an enemy of an enemy. And the enemy, to the academic elites around the U.S., is not Iran's leadership or Hezbollah or any other whacked out Islamofascist this side of Bin Laden. The enemy is George Bush.

There are people who shouldn't be invited to speak or attend any institution in the U.S., nevermind the so-called pinacle of Western education. Mr. Khatami would be better housed in a prison cell. At Harvard he'll get the royal treatment extended to all who hate the current administration.

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