The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A Princely Gift

Today’s New York Times noted that Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Alsaud gave gifts of $20 million to both Harvard and Georgetown universities to create a “university wide program on Islamic studies” at Harvard and to “expand [the] Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding” at Georgetown.

It fascinating that these bastions of liberal education -- schools that would go to great lengths to protect the rights of women and gay people; academic institutions that would condemn any entity that excluded people on the basis of religious affiliation; great urban universities that would condemn dictatorial rule and the oppression of any minority – accepted the gifts ravenously.

I suppose Harvard and Georgetown chose to ignore the fact that the Prince, a close associate of the rulers of Saudi Arabia, represents a country that systematically violates the rights of woman, condemns gay people to death for being gay, bans any religious teaching that is not Islamic, bans Christians and Jews from Mecca (hell, it won’t let Jews in the country).

It’s fascinating that Harvard has, in the past, chosen to ban US military recruiters from campus because of the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy toward gays, yet remains silent in the face of a Saudi policy of “if you get caught, we’ll kill you.”

Oh well, money talks.

I’m sure that academics will voice all of the politically correct blather about the need for inter-faith understanding, multiculturalism, and the like. All of those goals are worthy, but funding the goals from a source that is antagonistic toward them seems a bit hypocritical to me. It's sort of like accepting money from the late Pablo Escobar to fund a center for the study of the 'war on drugs'.

By the way, the Prince? He’s the same guy who gratuitously offered NY City $10 million dollars immediately after 9/11, but proceeded to imply that the terrorists who killed thousands at the WTC were equivalent to the Israelis. NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani returned the Prince’s check. Harvard and Georgetown should have done the same.