Would Harvard now stop giving courses in Islamic theology?
Faculty & Staff,
I am absolutely appalled and would like to register my protest against your injudicious and illadvised decision to remove Economics Professor Dr. Subramanian Swamy from teaching roster. (http://www.thecrimson.com/ article/2011/12/7/faculty- final-meeting/) Dr. Swamy is not some unknown new figure at Harvard rather a respected faculty member, whose so far proud association with the University goes back at least 4 decades. (http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=IteO05kaY-8) I do not find any merit in your argument to classify his article “How to wipe out Islamic terror” as hate speech. Bold and alternative political speech may be, but far from hate speech. (http://janamejayan.wordpress. com/2011/07/29/how-to-wipe- out-islamic-terror-dr- subramaniam-swamy/) He was merely exercising his basic human right of Right to Free Speech guaranteed under our First Amendment, which even protects, as it should, worst of the worse hate speeches. With all due respect, your unwise decision smacks of clear ideological and selection biases, and decision process influenced by emotions and various cognitive traps such as anchoring and confirming evidence.
Expression of Free Speech especially alternative Political & Religious viewpoints are basic human needs and these should not be denied to anyone. Political and Hate Speech are both protected under First Amendment as they are subjective. Because who is to decide what is hate speech and what is not? You, me or other Harvard faculty? Just because I don’t agree with what some other person said in his personal capacity, I have no Right to discriminate against him because of his political or religious views. It is very unfortunate that some of the Harvard faculty members have allegedly let their personal ideology and religious biases affect their professional decision making process. It a matter of shame and grave concern that Harvard has reprimanded Dr. Swamy for his protected political speech, which he gave in a different country on a topic which is completely unrelated to what he teaches at Harvard in the US.
Dr. Swamy is an Economics professor and Harvard administration has a right to judge his subject knowledge merits and teaching history only. Certainly not on the basis of what religious or political ideology he ascribes to or on grounds of his protected political speech. It is an alleged case of discrimination based on political ideology and civil liberties violated. This is a very bad precedence unwittingly set by Harvard which may have a chilling effect on the campus as student and faculty will now be scared to freely share and speak alternative viewpoints. Best way to deal with hate speech is either debate it or ignore it. Harvard allegedly did neither in case of Dr. Swamy. If the faculty found his views distasteful, why didn’t they challenge him for an open debate to publicly present and defend his views rather than unilaterally punishing him for speaking his mind in personal capacity? This may set an unhealthy precedence as per which every Harvard faculty member may now be held accountable and may face excoriation, at the whims of Harvard’s few biased faculty members, for anything he or she may say anywhere in world, without being given any fair chance to defend himself or herself. Should all those anti-Swamy faculty members who spearheaded this allegedly prejudicial campaign against Dr. Swamy’s free speech be now held accountable in India for what these people say, write or print in the US? Reprehensible. Correct, Dean Pfister?
What is even more ridiculous is that those who decided and coerced other faculty members to drop Dr. Swamy’s courses are not even related to his subject of expertise. Could Harvard please explain to us how and why is a History Professor Sugata Bose, known for his far-Left political ideology, deciding if Dr. Swamy should continue to teach Economics? That too when Dr. Swamy wasn’t even present there to defend himself. What Economics subject credentials does Prof Bose have to decide Dr. Swamy’s courses fate? How Dr. Swamy’s personal viewpoints on how to deal with terrorism in India can be used as a yardstick to censor him in the US and throw out his economics courses? How can Dr. Swamy’s protected political speech on dealing with terrorism in India influence his capabilities to teach Economics in US? There is no bridge between these two acts then how can he be reprimanded for it? This is essentially Heckler’s Veto to curb Dr. Swamy’s civil liberties. Will Harvard now reprimand anyone whose political and religious views doesn’t align with few of its faculty’s political leaning?
It is sad to see that Philosophy Department Chair Sean Kelly got “persuaded” to be part of those who like to censor others protected political speech.
Let us consider the faculty’s justification to censor Dr. Swamy. Is the faculty claiming that there is no Islamic terror in the world? As per terrorism research experts, there have been over 18000 Islamic terrorist attacks (small to big events classified by number of people murdered) in the world since 9/11. Just because main stream media doesn’t cover all them doesn’t mean these attacks aren’t happening. I am sure all you learned people have heard of SchrÃ¶dinger’s cat experiment. India has been suffering at the hands of Muslim extremists for over 25 years. Third anniversary of brutal 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai just passed a few days ago. Do you expect Dr. Swamy and other Indians to simply ignore these facts because Harvard faculty is just too uncomfortable and sensitive to face the truth? Political correctness cannot be an excuse for poltroonery and censorship.
Until a few decades ago, it was mostly Pakistan sponsored terrorists attacking India. Since past decade, various domestic terrorist groups like Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), Popular Front of India (PFI), Indian Mujahideen, etc. have also started committing terrorist attacks in India. Now it is clear that US citizens are involved in worldwide terrorist activities also. As exposed by PBS Frontline-ProPublica (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/ pages/frontline/david-headley/ ), American-born Dawood Gilani aka David Coleman Headley was one of the main co-conspirators of 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks. He was trained and indoctrinated in Islamic theology by Pakistani intelligence agency ISI. Then there is Faisal Shazad (Times Square bomber), Major Nidal Hassan (Fort Hood), Anwar Al-Awaki, Underwear bomber, et.al. Unfortunately they are all self-proclaimed Islamic terrorists. You cannot just brush these facts under the carpet.
It is not Dr. Swamy who is calling Muslim terrorists as Islamic terrorists, rather it is these terrorists themselves who are proudly proclaiming themselves to be Mujahideen i.e. Islamic warriors fighting for Allah. Then why is Harvard allegedly punishing Dr. Swamy for speaking against these self-proclaimed Islamic warriors? Why is Harvard allegedly shooting the messenger? There is no line, let me say it again, there is no line in that article where Dr. Swamy has “demonized an entire religious community” as terrorists. I am sorry to say but Professor Diana Eck is wrong and her inference is grossly exaggerated. There is no way all of the decision making faculty members could have construed Dr. Swamy’s argument as a call for destruction of religious places. This shows a clear case of selection bias and anchoring. Dr. Swamy said the following (an excerpt from the article),
In a brilliant research paper published by Robert Trager and Dessislava Zagorcheva this year (â€˜Deterring Terrorismâ€™ International Security, vol 30, No 3, Winter 2005/06, pp 87-123) has provided the general principles to structure such a strategy.
Applying these principles, I advocate the following strategy to negate the political goals of Islamic terrorism in India, provided the Muslim community fail to condemn these goals and call them un-Islamic:
Goal 2: Blast our temples and kill Hindu devotees.
Strategy: Remove the masjid in Kashi Vishwanath temple complex, and 300 others in other sites as a tit-for-tat.
Dr. Swamy has not proposed that Hindus or Government of India should proactively remove Mosques (aka masjid) rather as a consequence of an unfortunate event (tit-for-tat). As per his proposal, if Islamic terrorists continue to blast Hindu temples and devotees then instead of cowing down, remove their controversial Mosques from encroached land. For those who may not know, Kashi aka Varanasi is the holiest site in the world for Hindus just like Kabba is for Muslims and Wailing wall is for Jews. About 600 years ago a Muslim bandit ruler ordered destruction of Holy Hindu temple of Kashi Vishwanathji and built a Mosque on top of it, compare it to Dome of Rock controversy. Not only at Kashi but Muslim Mughal bandit rulers did the same to prime Hindu temples at other holy sites such as Ayodhya, Mathura, Somnath, etc. Can you see a pattern? Prof Diana Eck is a professor of comparative religious studies, she ought to know better. Rather than thinking rationally, some faculty decision makers seem to have taken an extreme position influenced by an emotional reaction to a rational viewpoint (based on well thought out research).
For the sake of argument let us agree for a moment with the standards that Harvard faculty has applied to misconstrue Dr. Swamy’s free speech as hate speech. Then the same standards should be applied to the following,
Quran (2:190-193) – “Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you. And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution [of Muslims] is worse than slaughter [of non-believers]… but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah.”
Bukhari (2:28) – Women comprise the majority of Hell’s occupants.
Quran (9:73) – O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them; and their abode is hell, and evil is the destination
Quran (4:56) – Those who disbelieve Our revelations, We shall expose them to the Fire. As often as their skins are consumed We shall exchange them for fresh skins that they may taste the torment Lo! Allah is ever Mighty, Wise
Quran (56:92-94) – But if he is of the rejecters, the erring, then the welcome will be boiling water and roasting at hell-fire
Quran (5:60) – Say: “Shall I point out to you something much worse than this, (as judged) by the treatment it received from Allah? those who incurred the curse of Allah and His wrath, those of whom some He transformed into apes and swine, those who worshipped evil;- these are (many times) worse in rank, and far more astray from the even path!”
Bukhari (59:727) – Allah’s Apostle [said]… “Allah’s curse be on the Jews and the Christians”
Verse 59:727 was spoken on Mohamed’s death bed, and was one of the last things that he ever said.
Isn’t Mohamed preaching annihilation of non-Muslims? Hasn’t Mohamed crossed the line by demonizing an entire non-Muslim religious community and calling for violence against their sacred places? So would the esteemed faculty at Harvard now call for censorship of Quran, Hadith, Sira and other Islamic texts and publicly reprimand Mohamed for hate speech? Would Harvard now stop giving courses in Islamic theology?Would Harvard now cancel classes by Professors who euoligize Mohamed and teach such hate speech? Would Harvard now throw out students who emulate Mohamed? If no then isn’t it hypocrisy on part of the same decision making faculty and Harvard administration? Standards set and enforced by the faculty in Dr. Swamy’s case should be unambiguously applied in this case also.
Since Harvard is willing to overlook Dr. Swamy’s professional accumen and rather use his personal views as a yardstick to decide if he should continue, let us analyze this fallacy also. Dr. Swamy has already publicly clarrified in this interview http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=K3lv71xEBs0? v=K3lv71xEBs0 that he doesn’t have any problem with Muslims. He is one of the most pluralist public figure I have ever known of. He is a Hindu who is married to a Parsi (Zorashtrian) and one of his daughter is married to a Muslim. Cannot get more Secular than that.
Now lest I am accused of being some fringe Right winger, let me prove my Centrist credentials by giving another rational argument that will sound tune to the Leftist gallery. For those who may not know, Dr. Swamy, as a lawyer, has been spearheading a massive anti-graft lawsuit against some of the most corrupt and powerful politicians and corporates in the world who have allegedly committed at least $50 Billion scam during the distribution 2G spectrum in India. Think of it as the Occupy Wall Street but this one actually works, and has a clear direction and goals. The anti-corruption movement has a leader in Dr. Swamy, who has already fell many politicians, bureaucrats and corporate heads, and there are some big fishes yet to be brought to book. One of the alleged corrupt big fish is ironically a Harvard alumni. Now since Harvard disassociated itself from Dr. Swamy’s political viewpoints on terrorism, hence, by applying its faculty’s logic as a corollary we can inference that Harvard would not agree with Dr. Swamy’s political position on bringing corrupt individuals including the alleged person who is also a Harvard alumni to justice. Therefore, it may be concluded that Harvard supports corruption in Politics and Business. Sounds weird right? Doesn’t make sense as this sounds like a far-fetched conclusion. Harvard would never support corruption. So now you can see how some of your biased faculty’s emotional argument, that there is a connection between a political speech on the menace of theologically sanctioned terror and teaching economics, sounds-like to a rational mind.
In the end I would like to thank you for reading my protest letter and I hope some sanity will prevail in Harvard administration. I hope that you will promptly apologize to Dr. Subramanian Swamy, reinstate his popular courses without prejudice, and invite him back with all due courtesy. Please null and void this reprehensible precedence set by Harvard, before it is too late. My respects where due as I mean no malice to anyone. Just speaking against the injustice done.
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