A prominent American columnist and former university professor has drawn strong criticism ahead of plans to honour him – by naming a social studies chair after him at Harvard.
Martin Peretz who is a also a former professor from Harvard, and who is well known for his regular columns in The New Republic, wrote earlier this month that Muslims in the U.S. should not be entitled to constitutional guarantees of free speech.
“Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims …so, yes, I wonder whether I need honour these people and pretend they are worthy of the privileges of the First amendment which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse”.
In addition to blogosphere, and national media attention, the story drew the strongest criticisms from the Harvard students themselves.
The student body has demanded that the ceremony which was due to take place this Friday and cost £322,000 be cancelled.
According to a letter from the students,
‘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 US constitution should be withheld from certain citizens based on their religious affiliation’.
The letter has the support of three hundred students.
One Harvard professor Stephen Walt speaking about Peretz’s comments said:
“If you had said this about Blacks, Jews or Catholics, it would be a scandal”.
Apparently, this comment is not the first of its kind. Peretz reputedly has a reputation for making similar offensive remarks, and many believe the media has, in part, protected him.
One established blogger Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com commented;
“Marty Peretz has a lot of connections at the highest levels of media and politics.”
By Richard Sudan
Filed under: Discrimination |