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Reader comment on item: Harvard Loves Jihad

Submitted by Stephen Walton (United States), Jun 13, 2002 at 12:48

Dear Dr. Pipes:

I have read many of the articles here and have found myself agreeing with many of them, despite being in large measure what I'd call a 'social liberal.' (It has become a truism that there is no place in the current US political system for those who are liberal on social issues but still favor a strong US defense abroad [and who aren't evangelical Christians], but that's another discussion.) You are clearly a thoughtful person, and I take your views very seriously even when I disagree.

However, ...I have read the actual speech; it is easy to find by doing a Google search on 'harvard commencement jihad' and the Web address is http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~yasin/speech.html . I think if you compare your characterization with the actual speech, you'll find it is much more moderate than you say. I might also point out that the number of newspapers which carried your comments probably means that far more people read it than heard Mr. Yasin's speech. Second, to attack Mr. Yasin for his past presidency of the Harvard Islamic Society seems almost reflexively anti-Muslim... Third, I think you tarred Mr. Yasin with a broad brush. You linked him to fundraising for a group which has been banned by the Bush Administration as raising funds for terrorist organizations, then mentioned alleged fund-raising for Hamas at Harvard. You appeared to want to imply that Mr. Yasin himself has raised funds directly for Hamas, but you ...do not state this explicitly. Why not? Might it be because he hasn't? Fourth, Mr. Yasin's speech was very short; the main commencement address at Harvard this year was by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and aired his center to center-right views.

I actually looked up Harvard's list of all their commencement speakers since 1956. Jeanne Kirkpatrick and Colin Powell are among them. If there is any bias there, it is toward established movers and shakers.

There is no doubt that today's university faculty are more politically liberal than the average American. But I think this is mainly because the long-term nature of University employment means that faculty tend to be a lagging indicator of the mood of the nation, much as the Supreme Court does. When I was a student in the 1960's and 1970's, most of my teachers and professors were men of European descent, and many were down-the-line supporters of the status quo. Need I point out that many major universities, including Harvard, didn't admit women until the 1960's? Hardly evidence of flaming liberalism.

Stephen Walton

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