The Corner

Such a Strange Place, Academia

It is likely (a) that Ahmadinejad was one of the terrorists who took American hostages in 1979, and so helped to start the quarter-century rise of radical Islamic jihadism that blew up on September 11; and (b) that he wants to visit September 11 precisely for the purpose of boasting when back home “I am going there, because I can,” the subtext, if not the overt message, cynically to commemorate what we deserved.

What is stranger is why Columbia university tried to invite a terrorist to speak who denies the first holocaust and advocates a second one. This is not a matter of free speech but of common decency and the most elemental common sense.

In light of the UC Davis’s recent refusal to have Larry Summers speak, we see once again what’s behind the curtain at our top universities-a generic class of 9-5 boutique leftists who rant and rave over inviting a liberal President who only gave the various women’s projects $50 million at Harvard, but who in turn are largely quiet about hosting a thug whose thugs recently imprisoned an Iranian-American female scholar  and do more than any other nation-state in oppressing women.

But then for forty years we have been taught that there are no absolutes, only culturally-constructed relative impressions predicated on power. So while we “know” Summers, as a powerful, rich white man, is hostile to women ,we can not use such standards to suggest the same of one of the multi-cultural other’, long a victim of Western colonialism, racism, and sexism. Would the feminists at UC Davis have objected to Bill Clinton speaking–a target of a sexual harassment suit, and dallying with a young female employee in an “asymmetrical” power relationship?

Still, if one examines the recent shameful treatment of Cherminsky at Irvine, Summers at Davis, and the idea of inviting a terrorist to Columbia, the lowest common denominator is not even politics, but stupidity on the part of university administrators, who blunder into decisions, then give sanctimonious lectures about free speech, a topic they have rarely have studied and know nothing about, and then usually cave when reminded of how embarrassing they’ve become.

All this is just another reminder how divorced from our common culture and workplace academics have become, and how little respect the public accords them. Proof?

The replacement for the gender-insensitive Summers apparently will be Gov. Schwarzenegger-who fought serial accusations  of groping  in his first gubernatorial campaign and was once sued for sexual harassment.

Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

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