Eric Rauchway is right, it didn’t require much in the way of intellectual cycles to link the UC Regents rescinding their invitation for former Harvard president Summers with the Chemerinsky affair down south…
By succumbing to a demand that they reject a controversial, though–as a former treasury secretary, university administrator, and respected economist–obviously relevant speaker, the Regents have suddenly made life much more difficult for those of us in the business of presenting controversial, if relevant, ideas and guest speakers on UC campuses. Casting someone as utterly outside the university’s conversation is the severest penalty we as scholars can impose–appropriate perhaps to Holocaust deniers and such ilk as exhibit a chronic impenetrability to reason. Lawrence Summers, though he said some things well worth objecting to, falls well short of that standard. By applying this ban to him, the Regents suggest an impossibly low tolerance for controversy at the University of California.
So let’s turn our attention to another embarrassing case of double standards, the case involving Columbia University’s invitation to Iranian President Ahmadinejad. The double standard is that Columbia refuses to allow ROTC on campus because of the U.S. military’s policy prohibiting homosexuals from serving. The president of Iran, on the other hand, is welcome in spite of their enforcement of Sharia law dictating death by hanging for homosexuals. No ROTC welcome but the Iranian president, well they apparently find his appeal unresistable and are willing to overlook that little death for gays thing.
I suppose I could chose to ignore these current events that I find so maddening, but I just can’t. The hypocrisy on display in these recent events is so obvious that I find myself at a loss to understand how smart and well meaning people, such as the UC Regents and Columbia’s Bollinger, could allow them to happen on their watch. In UC’s case, the Regents are dragging down an institution that I, as a taxpayer, am subsidizing and believe vital to California’s future, and in Columbia’s case they just have no shame.