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What’s Good For The United States?

Dr. Cole has a story up at Informed Comment on a current controversy, Tutu Excluded, and links to the Minneapolis Star Tribune article, St. Thomas won’t host Tutu

A plan to invite Desmond Tutu to speak at the University of St. Thomas next year was scuttled by university officials who did not want to offend the Jewish community over the Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, university officials confirmed Wednesday.

In addition, Cris Toffolo, an associate professor who supported inviting the South African archbishop and activist was removed as director of the St. Paul university’s justice and peace studies program in August.

So, some unelected group that claims to represent everyone of Jewish faith in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area gets to decide whether a private Catholic university can invite the Most Reverend Dr. Desmond Tutu, Anglican Archbishop Emeritus of Southern Africa, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, and the Gandhi Peace Prize based on his view of the actions of the Israeli government.

I would point out that the current Pope and his predecessor both opposed the actions of the United States in Iraq, so I assume that the Pope wouldn’t be welcome on the campus in deference to the feelings of the Christian conservatives in the area.

This is the United States, and the United States had better come to grips with the fact that we need to deal with the Middle East in accordance with our own best interests and start ignoring the commands of the Likud party lobbying arm and espionage center that is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

The Likud’s operatives in the US smear anyone who fails to follow their line on Israel. They did it to Dr. Cole, Eric Alterman at Altercation and they did it to Jimmy Carter. They don’t represent the views of all Jews, anymore than William DonoWho represents all Catholics.

4 comments

1 hipparchia { 10.06.07 at 1:21 am }

also from that article: In addition, Cris Toffolo, an associate professor who supported inviting the South African archbishop and activist was removed as director of the St. Paul university’s justice and peace studies program in August.

justice and peace studies, eh? i see they recently hosted a workshop [conversational judo? really?] on non-violent communication, in which they were supposed to learn “how to communicate across polarized differences gracefully.”

2 Bryan { 10.06.07 at 9:30 am }

A “graceful” surrender to thugs always communicates a willingness to be a doormat.

3 Steve Bates { 10.06.07 at 9:42 am }

(For the record, this is NOT the same University of St. Thomas at which I’ve taught on the adjunct faculty. There are several universities around the world with that name; they are, as far as I know, not affiliated. Nor do I represent that local UST in any statements I may make here or elsewhere. I am speaking here as an individual.)

Some of the more strident Jewish-lobby activists I know seem unable to fathom the actual relationship between the U.S. and Israel: allies. Our nations are not identical. They are not even “siblings” in a metaphorical sense. It is most certainly possible for the interests of Israel and the interests of the U.S. to diverge. But for a Catholic university to tweak its speaker schedule to omit one of the great human rights figures of our time, and to punish a professor for communicating with him, in the name of some assumed offense taken by the Jewish community, seems quite extreme to me. It certainly defies any notion of academic freedom I can imagine.

I suppose there is a constitutional right to be a fool, even a damned fool. But I wish fewer people… and institutions… would exercise that right.

4 Bryan { 10.06.07 at 10:57 am }

They have the same problem in Israel as we have in the US – question the Right and you are a terrorist sympathizer. Israelis are just as divided as Americans, but the media doesn’t cover that, so most people don’t understand that the government positions on a lot of issues may not be the majority opinion in Israel.

Desmond Tutu didn’t win the Nobel Prize for saying things that people wanted to hear; he won for saying things people needed to hear.

Suppressing free speech is not a virtue for a university, it is a characteristic of authoritarian governments.