The great Harvey Mansfield, professor of politics at Harvard, sees universities, his own especially, as having learned nothing from 9/11. Writing an op—ed in the Boston Globe, he avers,
FIVE YEARS have now passed since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and what have our universities been doing? I can tell you about Harvard, and the answer is not reassuring.
Harvard has just welcomed the former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami to give a little talk. Harvard thinks this is free speech, but in fact the university has allowed itself to be used as a platform for sweet—talk in the service of a regime that hates, and wants to bamboozle, America. Note, too, that Harvard professor Stephen Walt and a Chicago professor have just written an expos� of the Israeli lobby's influence on American politics. They encourage the belief that Israel is the main problem we face .
Nor has Harvard relaxed its hostility to ROTC on the campus. The pretext is the military's policy discriminating against gays by requiring them to keep silent about being gay. Never mind what would happen to gays or defenders of gays if the Islamic fascists took over.
These are not isolated incidents but signs of the prevailing attitude at Harvard and other elite universities. There is lots of griping against the Bush administration but little activist dissent of the kind seen in protest against the Vietnam War. Cindy Sheehan's movement has not caught on.
All to the good, one might say. A university is not a political actor and should not be drawn away from its own business by too much concern for current events.
Yes, agreed. A university is an institution of learning, and as such takes a broad view of things. But this means it should learn from events if not try to control them.
Ed Lasky 9 13 06