Will Harvard drop honor for Peretz?

on 6 Comments

Marty Peretz is finally receiving some long overdue recognition: Harvard’s Committee on Social Studies in its forthcoming 50th anniversary celebrations will pay homage to the man. Participants in the 50th anniversary celebrations include: Michael Walzer, Stanley Hoffmann, Marty Peretz (who will speak over lunch), Amy Gutman and Harvard President Drew Faust. But questions are starting to be raised as to whether it should go forward.

Following Nicholas Kristof’s column in the Times this past Sunday, Stephen Walt comments on Peretz’s repeated screeds against Muslims and asks:

Does Harvard University really want to have an undergraduate research fund named after someone who would espouse such hateful views? Would all those people who contributed money and who will presumably show up for the event have done so if Peretz made a similarly grotesque statement about blacks or Catholics?

Please note that this isn’t an issue of academic freedom or free speech, as nobody is questioning Peretz’s right to say whatever hateful things he wants. But at a moment in our nation’s history when religious tolerance is being openly challenged, one would hope that premier academic institutions would be setting a positive example. It will be a sad day for Harvard if it turns a blind eye to Peretz’ reprehensible attitudes and pockets the money. And in the absence of a heartfelt public apology by Peretz himself, you’d think all those admirers would be having second thoughts.

James Fallows has also waded in, insinuating that Peretz should step down from his role at the New Republic:

I can’t at the moment think of another mainstream publication whose editor-in-chief has expressed similar sentiments — whether about Muslims or blacks or Jews or women or any other class — and not had to apologize or step down. Or a national political figure: compare this with Trent Lott’s objectively milder statement about Strom Thurmond, which cost him his job in the Senate leadership. Peretz can of course say whatever he wants. It’s a free country, and he is entitled to the “privileges” of the First Amendment, much as I might think he is abusing them here.  


6 Responses

  1. Chaos4700
    September 14, 2010, 8:43 am

    The short answer to the headline would be: It would be nice, but no, they won’t. “Ivy League” schools get a lot of money for legitimizing political elites who don’t deserve their degrees. Just look at Yale and George W. Bush.

  2. MRW
    September 14, 2010, 9:36 am

    Peretz gives the impression and weight to the notion that you can be a Jewish David Duke with no consequence.

  3. traintosiberia
    September 14, 2010, 10:25 am

    We are showing him (not offerring ) a leeway to get out of this mess by raisng 1st Amendemnt right. 1st Amendemnt right cant be used here.Harvard will not allow one of his faculty to strip for Playboy .It will not allow a sophomore to plagiarize and be done with it with a tap on the knuckles as reprimand.It will not allow a president to utter anti women comment.
    What Peretz said was not only emotionally hateful but they were lies and provocatory with potential for violence in the campus against muslim. He should not be allowed to use Harvard campus as a tool to advance his affliation to Isreal by spewing hatred against muslim.

  4. lysias
    September 14, 2010, 11:09 am

    If Peretz stays on, Helen Thomas should get her job back, as well as her seat at White House press conferences.

    By the way, Peretz’s Wikipedia entry gives this following additonal piece of information about Peretz and Harvard:

    In 1993, Harvard inaugurated the Martin Peretz Chair in Yiddish Literature in his honour[7]. The Chair is currently held by Ruth Wisse.

    Ruth Wisse said the following in Commentary in 1988:

    “Palestinian Arabs [are] people who breed and bleed and advertise their misery.”

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