2 readers online now  |  69 million page views

Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers

Reader comment on item: The War on Campus

Submitted by jackstpaul (United States), Oct 8, 2002 at 04:51

S.R. Sudah, October 2, 2002 at 17:35 indicted Edward Said with the following comment "But among other things, in a rambling and hysterical attack, Said mentions Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers as being a Jew. Now Said must know the implications of naming someone a Jew, in the context of an Arab readership."

S.R. you need to catch up on your reading. Summers gave a major and nearly unprecedented--wholly unprecedented for himself given his brief tenure--for a Harvard President about political issues and academia re: the Mideast conflict 7-10 days ago. In it, in part a response to the divestiture movement, he identified himself as a (approx. paraphrasing) 'Jew, largely secular, who has never identified myself so much as a Jew or felt any impact from anti-Semitism--until now.' It is to that statement that Said addresses Summer's comments--read Said's article and search for news on Summers.

What is most egregious in my mind is Summer's contention--since echoed without substantiation or explanation--that actions such a the divestiture movement 'may be anti-Semitic in effect, if not in intention.' Well, that's a wimpy, duplicitous, and counter-productive way to accuse someone of anti-Semitism without directly doing it, but doing it nonetheless, but desperate people resort to desperate measures.

Bottom line: Summer's introduced his Jewishness as part of the dialogue, not Said or anyone else. Suggesting that it would be appropriate for Summers to "call the Jewish card'--what he has done--without giving Said or anyone else the ability to address that issue is a double-standard. As far as "cardinal sin" in academic or scholarly debate: this isn't/wasn't a "scholarly debate." It's a political debate pure and simple, contra, say, two historians discussing what lead to the 1967 war. So, no, it's not a cardinal sin, it's a matter of relevance: what possible relevance does (any)one's ethnicity—including oneself--have to the issue at hand?

Summers made it an issue and Said responded writing, "A Jewish president of the country's oldest and richest university complains of anti-semitism!" Why? Irony. 1. Because, gee, no surprise one who is Jewish complains of anti-Semitism—a very real phenomenon, 2. As head of the richest and most prestigious university in the US—if not world, it's hard to say Summers has personally suffered from anti-Semitism of the type he was deriding. How could he have been any more successful in academia if not for suffering anti-Semitism? He would now be president of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton simultaneously?
Submitting....

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Comment on this item

Mark my comment as a response to Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers by jackstpaul

Email me if someone replies to my comment

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

See recent outstanding comments.

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List
eXTReMe Tracker

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2021 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)