- The Washington Times - Monday, October 29, 2001

If there was any question about how Harvard really feels about America, including New York City, the school's recent behavior has removed all doubt.

For several years now, the school has received millions in three separate endowments from the bin Laden family for the Harvard Law School and their School of Design. Moreover, Harvard has been in association with a Cambridge-based biomedical firm, Hybridon, whose investors include Osama bin Laden's brother, Yahia bin Laden and Abdelah bin Mahfour, a relative of the family suspected of funding bin Laden's operatives.

In the wake of Sept. 11, Harvard has nonchalantly brushed off any criticism of the practice of taking money from the bin Ladens. Instead, showing the courage of its convictions, the school has deleted references to the bin Laden law school scholarships from its web site.

Indeed, in a letter to the students and faculty on Oct. 16, former Clinton administration official and now Harvard President Lawrence Summers wrote what could only be described as the most breathtakingly self-absorbed communication since Bill Clinton last made an entry into his diary.

Rather than denouncing the terrorists, praising the New York City firefighters and police officers, or calling for support for President Bush, the letter goes into great detail about how Harvard will help Harvard to get through this crisis including "Harvard's commitment … to thoughtful inquiry." Mr. Summers also thoughtfully created an informal advisory group of Harvard faculty to "advance our paramount interest in the well-being of all members of the university." Well, at least that's out of the way.

Having accepted millions from the bin Laden family, Harvard was called upon recently in a resolution passed by the Cambridge City Council to donate money for compensation for the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

A figure of $5 million was suggested. No dice. Harvard told Cambridge to tell New York City and America to "drop dead."

According to Lauren Dorgan, writing in the Harvard Crimson, the order passed by the council "implied that as the recipient of bin Laden family money … the University is obligated to donate that amount to the victims."

Ms. Dorgan's story also contains an interesting quote from Cambridge Councilor Kenneth E. Reeves; "I do believe there is a connection no matter how tangential."

One might argue about guilt by association, but isn't this the same institution whose faculty denied an honorary doctorate to President Reagan? The tweed-and-Volvo set at Harvard apparently seems less troubled about doing business with the brother of an evil mass murderer than with the 40th president of the United States.

The academy's antipathy towards the rest of America is well known. For instance during World War II, President Roosevelt and the Congress, in one of the most gracious acts ever performed by our government, created the GI Bill, thus enabling millions of returning servicemen the opportunity to get a college degree as a gift from a grateful nation. Standing in the schoolhouse door, fighting the legislation, were the colleges and universities of America, opposed presumably because they didn't want their campuses overrun by a bunch of proletarians. Their cultural bigotry was no less offensive than George Wallace's racial bigotry.

Nearly every segment of America, every town, every race, every corner, has stepped forward to pitch in, raise money, give blood and raise their voice in patriotic song and unashamedly weep when singing "America the Beautiful." Even Hollywood, shock and surprise, got it right on the first take.

Not so, however, at most of our institutions of higher learning. The "deconstructionist" left has been holding peace vigils, taking the American flag off of fire vehicles, as in the case of Berkeley, or turning out last month in dirty fatigue pants, green T-shirts, red bandanas and shoulder-slung backpacks while holding cafe lattes to protest the non-meeting of the International Monitary Fund in Washington. After all, just because something doesn't happen doesn't mean the left can't "collectively" protest it. Even paranoiacs have enemies, too.

Don't think for a moment that Harvard institutions don't have the money. Just recently, the Harvard Club in New York City sold a John Singer Sergeant painting for $12 million dollars to fund the expansion of their presumably smoke-free club.

In an eleventh-hour pathetic gesture, Harvard had grudgingly decided to donate $1 million dollars in an attempt to salve the public relations wound. But let's face it, this is mere chump change for one of America's wealthiest academic institutions. Hollywood starlets have given more than that.

On the other hand, maybe America's and New York City's response to any money now from Harvard, should be like that of Mayor Rudy Giuliani's now-famous rejection of $10 million from a Saudi prince with a history of anti-Israel screeds: "Nope, you keep it. We're not that desperate."

Craig Shirley is the president of Craig Shirley and Associates, a Washington-based public affairs firm.

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