- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 3, 2002

Are Harvard University and Stanford Law School citadels of reason that strengthen our democraticdispensation? Or are the elite academies saboteurs by granting respectability to the likes of poet Tom Paulin and indicted radical lawyer Lynn Stewart, both notorious for celebrating violence, terrorism, and repression against their opponents?
I owe a debt of gratitude to Edward Rothstein's "Connections" commentary in the New York Times (Nov. 23, 2002) for calling my attention to the chronicles that follow.
Mr. Paulin's chilling views include likening the Israeli Defense Force to Hitler's SS; recommending death for Brooklyn-born Jewish settlers on the West Bank, whom he demonizes as Nazis; and, denying the nation of Israel a right of self-preservation.
Attorney Lynn Stewart matches Mr. Paulin syllable for ugly syllable. She avidly defended Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, found guilty of complicity in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. She was indicted last spring for providing material assistance to a foreign terrorist organization and for relaying a directive from the terrorist sheik to renew Muslim extremist warfare against the government of Egypt.
Ms. Stewart salutes violence, terrorism, and repression to extirpate her tortured conceptions of capitalism, racism and sexism. She was unmoved by the civilian deaths of September 11. She is untroubled by the homicidal abominations of Mao Tse-tung, Josef Stalin and Vietnamese leaders. And Fidel Castro's merciless war against peaceful dissidents evokes no protest.
No matter how abhorrent and warped, the opinions of poet Mr. Paulin and attorney Ms. Stewart still enjoy the protection of the First Amendment. They may howl them on land, sea, or mountaintops with impunity. Even when speech regularly culminates in terrorism or hate crimes such as Middle East and South Asian textbooks, classroom lectures, or movies crediting the bogus "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," and all overtly or covertly wrathful toward Christians and Jews the First Amendment does not bend. In Brandenburg vs. Ohio (1969), the Supreme Court held that advocacy of lawlessness is immune from punishment unless the exhortation was intended to provoke imminent violence and was likely to succeed.
The First Amendment, however, does not constrain private universities from ostracizing speakers treasonous to democracy, the rule of law, and rational moral discourse exemplified by Mr. Paulin and Ms. Stewart. Thus, spurred by his anti-Israeli diatribes, Harvard University's English department initially withdrew an invitation to Mr. Paulin to deliver its annual Morris Gray Lecture. But the department meekly reversed course and surrendered to the usual suspects. They seemingly complained that Mr. Paulin's prestigious university reception should remain undisturbed irrespective of the malevolence of his preachings and their contribution to horrifying suicide-homicide bombings in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.
Attorney Stewart's courtship by Stanford Law School was less fractious.
She received an invitation to teach her terrifying views of government and morality to students aspiring to public interest law practice. She would be crowned as a Mills Public Interest Mentor. The law school dean belatedly examined Ms. Stewart's forceful defense of terrorism and violence toward recusants from her chilling gospel. But a feruling would signify too stark a disapprobation.
Accordingly, the courageous dean chose to lift the title of Mills mentor from Ms. Stewart's crown, but leave her lectures and role modeling unimpaired.
The irresponsibility of Harvard, Stanford, or any other elite institution in playing host to celebrants of violence and terrorism is the irresponsibility of neutrality between the firefighter and the fire. The fire should be aggressively opposed and extinguished as a social imperative.
Similarly, violence and terrorism can be nipped in the bud if its proponents are ostracized and assailed in the moral discourses of university classrooms and lecture halls.
Thus, students should be instructed that non-membership in al Qaeda or Hezbollah is not enough for the preservation of democracy and the rule of law, just as nonmembership in the Ku Klux Klan was not enough to secure equal rights for blacks during Jim Crow and chronic black lynchings.
Wickedness should be denounced in all its moods and tenses, not given an honored seat next to virtue. When President Woodrow Wilson praised the racist film "Birth of a Nation" after a White House viewing, the cultural acceptability of racism rocketed. The number of race riots and lynchings President Wilson's praise occasioned is unknowable.
The despicable opinions of Mr. Paulin at Harvard and Ms. Stewart at Stanford will benefit every bit as much from their university cloaks of respectability as did "The Birth of a Nation" from Wilson. And their views will spark an unknown number of terrorist incidents and hate crimes and an unknown number of innocent civilian casualties.
Every sincerely held and ardently propounded idea is an incitement to action. Accordingly, a teenager attending a madrassa in the Middle East is far more likely to turn terrorist than an adolescent enrolled in a Montessori school.
For good or for ill, the nation's elite universities train the lion's share of future leaders and define the morally acceptable. But with that power comes responsibility. And responsibility requires universities to excoriate, but not censor, ideas that malign the rule of law, individual freedom, reasoned discourse, and government by the consent of the governed.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide