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Harvard Defends Khatami As Free Speech

From the NYT owned Boston Globe:

Harvard dean stands by Khatami invitation

Dialogue with foes called valuable

By Marcella Bombardieri and Maria Sacchetti, Globe Staff | September 7, 2006

CAMBRIDGE — The dean of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government yesterday defended the decision to invite Mohammad Khatami to speak on the eve of Sept. 11, saying the United States needs dialogue with its enemies.

"Do we listen to those that we disagree with, and vigorously challenge them, or do we close our ears completely? " said David Ellwood, the Kennedy School's dean, in an interview with the Globe.

Ellwood said he was disappointed in Governor Mitt Romney's refusal to give state protection to the former Iranian president during his visit. The dean said he approved the invitation, first proposed by faculty members when they learned that Khatami would be speaking at the United Nations. He said decisions on whether to invite political figures with troubling records are made on a case-by-case basis…

In deciding to invite Khatami, officials considered that he had been granted a US visa, that he is working with the United Nations, and that he is "sometimes seen as a reformer," Ellwood said.

Sept. 10 was the only time available, the dean said, and emphasized that Khatami would not be allowed to visit unless he were willing to take unscripted questions. A commemorative event is scheduled for Sept. 11, the fifth anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Boston police have said that they would help with security for Khatami. The State Department and Cambridge police are providing security as well, Harvard said…

Meanwhile, Romney stepped up his criticism of Harvard yesterday, tying a lack of campus outrage against Khatami to what he called a politically-correct attack by some faculty members against former Harvard president Lawrence H. Summers.

"It's a 'blame America,' it's a 'hate America' attitude on the part of some liberals that I think many people find very offensive, myself included," Romney said on WRKO radio yesterday.

He also said Harvard "effectively disinvited" Ronald Reagan from speaking on the university's 350th anniversary in 1986. There was an outcry on campus over rumors that Reagan would be granted an honorary degree. After Harvard decided not to give out any honorary degrees, Reagan declined the invitation.

Graham T. Allison, director of the Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, said he endorsed a staffer's idea of inviting Khatami. Allison noted the grave importance of engaging Iran on its nuclear program.

Allison compared engaging Khatami to Reagan meeting with the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. And he said the Kennedy School Forum allows for tough questioning of visitors. In 1995, for example, the widow of a soldier who died in Vietnam confronted former Defense secretary Robert S. McNamara…

Former Harvard President Lawrence Summers was unavailable for comment.

You see, Harvard is all for "free speech," as long as it is anti-US.

Of course this is nothing new for Harvard, which even welcomed the Nazis with open arms.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, September 7th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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