Harvard students: Peretz invitation ‘lends legitimacy and respectability to views that can only be described as abhorrent and racist’

on 10 Comments

The following letter was recently delivered to the organizers of the Social Studies 50th Anniversary Celebration:

Dear Professor Tuck and Dr. Bernstein,

We are writing on behalf of the Harvard Islamic Society, Harvard-Radcliffe RAZA, Society of Arab Students and Latinas Unidas. In a recent blog post for The New Republic Martin Peretz, wrote:

“But, frankly, Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims. And among those Muslims led by the Imaam Rauf there is hardly one who has raised a fuss about the routine and random bloodshed that defines their brotherhood. So, yes, I wonder whether I need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse.”

He had the following to say about Mexicans in another TNR piece:

“Well, I am extremely pessimistic about Mexican-American relations, not because the U.S. had done anything specifically wrong to our southern neighbor but because a (now not quite so) wealthy country has as its abutter a Latin society with all of its characteristic deficiencies: congenital corruption, authoritarian government, anarchic politics, near-tropical work habits, stifling social mores, Catholic dogma with the usual unacknowledged compromises, an anarchic counter-culture and increasingly violent modes of conflict.”

And the Washington Post reported the following remarks Mr. Peretz made about African Americans:

Citing statistics on out-of-wedlock births among blacks, Martin Peretz, editor in chief of The New Republic, said, “So many in the black population  are afflicted by cultural deficiencies.” Asked what he meant, Peretz responded, “I would guess that in the ghetto a lot of mothers don’t appreciate the importance of schooling.” Mfume challenged Peretz, saying, “You can’t really believe that. Every mother wants the best for their children.” Peretz agreed, then added, “But a mother who is on crack is in no position to help her children get through school.” Some in the audience of 2,600 young Jewish leaders hissed at Peretz’s remarks.

We acknowledge Mr. Peretz’s right to hold and express these views, but we are disturbed that he is honored at Harvard University by being invited to speak at the Social Studies Anniversary Celebration on September 25. Such an invitation lends legitimacy and respectability to views that can only be described as abhorrent and racist in their implication that the rights guaranteed by the U.S. constitution should be withheld from certain citizens based on their religious affiliation.

While the organizers of the Celebration cannot be held accountable for every statement made by its guests, we the undersigned take great exception to Harvard giving such ideas a platform, and we worry that in so doing the University, and the Committee on Degrees in Social Studies in particular, will be alienating a large segment of its student body. In light of these concerns, we respectfully ask that you reconsider having Mr. Peretz as one of the Celebration’s speakers, or at least that he be publicly challenged to defend views that are, in our opinion, indefensible.


Abdelnasser Rashid, Harvard Islamic Society
Maricruz Rodriguez, Harvard-Radcliffe RAZA
Annissa Alusi, Harvard Society of Arab Students
Beverly Pozuelos, Latinas Unidas


10 Responses

  1. potsherd
    September 19, 2010, 12:58 pm

    Imagine what would have happened if a prospective honoree had expresed views even 1% as offensive to Jews.

  2. Philip Munger
    September 19, 2010, 1:01 pm


    Marty’s beginning to look more like a putz every day, as more stuff is collected on his past statements and strung together meaningfully, as Adam has done here. I used to think of him as more of a schmuck, especially for degrading a magazine with such an illustrious (if sometimes mixed) history.

    If he’s made these statements about Muslims, Catholics, Latinos, Mexicans and blacks, there must be more. Dig.

    Meanwhile, I’ll keep digging on Joe Miller.

  3. Bumblebye
    September 19, 2010, 1:43 pm

    He must be a good friend of Yerushalmi, since they share the same clearly racist outlook on the world. Or would like to take the US back to its old racist past. Make it “respectable” again, more in tune with Israeli values.

  4. sherbrsi
    September 19, 2010, 1:47 pm

    “So many in the black population are afflicted by cultural deficiencies.”

    “…wealthy country has as its abutter a Latin society with all of its characteristic deficiencies”

    That makes two peoples who have “societies” and “cultural deficiencies.” Couple that with Peretz’ trademark contempt of Arab inferiority, and the silence of the supposed “Anti”-Defamation League speaks volumes.

  5. Jeff Klein
    September 19, 2010, 3:56 pm

    This is what Zionism has done to the once-proud Jewish intellectual tradition!

    A while ago I posted an article:
    Martin Kramer, Harvard and the Eugenics of Zion
    link to counterpunch.org
    from which the editors unaccountably (for length I presume) left off the original conclusion:

    Ironically, for a movement which embraces eugenics as policy, it would seem that an excess of Zionism not only promotes racism, but it also makes people stupid. Not for nothing was Zionist mole in the Pentagon Douglas Feith (Harvard ’75) called “the dumbest fucking guy on the planet.” What could be more depressing than to observe the buffoonish antics of extremist politicians in the Israeli Knesset; lunatic settlers and genocidal rabbis in the West Bank; Commentary Magazine, Abe Foxman or Alan Dershowitz? Just lately, the Simon Wiesenthal Center has begun construction of a “Museum of Tolerance” in Jerusalem – on the site of an ancient Muslim cemetery.

    Surveying the bleak political-intellectual landscape in Israel and among its supporters in the Diaspora more than 60 years after the founding of the Jewish State, one is tempted to recall the famous conclusion of Justice Holmes’ Buck v Bell opinion: “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”

    • Jeff Klein
      September 19, 2010, 3:57 pm

      Sorry for all the bold. . . I echo the request of many for a better editing tool and preview for postings at Mondoweiss!

      • Philip Munger
        September 19, 2010, 5:58 pm

        I’ll second the motion, Jeff. Never done the bold thing, but you miss one space on an HTML tag and it can mar an important quick link.

        As a longtime Counterpunch reader, I doubt your conclusion was edited out for its content.

    • Citizen
      September 19, 2010, 4:55 pm

      Your article detailing zionism’s modest proposal is a must read, Jeff. Lots of David Duke fans running around in that circle, and they are not shy at all–is this what is meant by sharing the same values? Witty, the self-proclaimed liberal zionist resident commenter here, should read it. He never addresses THAT part of zionism.

  6. Edward Q
    September 20, 2010, 8:56 am

    The late Israel Shahak wrote an article in Middle East International describing the racists views of Israeli leaders such as Netanyahu. They admired South African apartheid and so on.

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