Saturday, May 15, 2010


Dear Old Harvard

Were Diogenes alive today, I doubt his travels would take him anywhere near Harvard Square. Anyone following the nomination news of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court is no doubt now familiar with her November 2004 decision to disallow military recruiters from using the law school’s Office of Career Services. That act of courage lasted all of 10 months  (September 2005) at which time the Harvard Crimson then reported that:

“Harvard Law School will actively cooperate with military recruiters this fall, despite the Pentagon’s refusal to sign the school’s nondiscrimination pledge, Dean Elena Kagan announced last night.”

Not hard to guess why:

“In an e-mail to students and faculty last night, Kagan wrote that the Pentagon had notified the University this summer that it would withhold most federal grants to Harvard unless the Law School’s career services office gives aid to military recruiters.

Harvard receives more than $400 million per year in federal grants.”

But this isn’t just about Elena Kagan – this is about Harvard being Harvard:

“Meanwhile, University President Lawrence H. Summers said in a statement last night that Harvard will file a friend-of-the-court brief today urging the Supreme Court to invalidate the Solomon Amendment, the statute initially passed by Congress in 1994—and subsequently modified—that allows the secretary of defense to block federal funds to universities that restrict military recruiters’ access to students.

“The Law School and the University share a deep and enduring commitment to the principles of nondiscrimination and equal opportunity for all persons,” Summers said.”

And as a testament to their “deep and enduring commitment to the principles of nondiscrimination and equal opportunity for all persons”, they marshaled all the resources of this fine university in reaction to such horrific stories as this, also from 2005:

Arab gays face hormone treatment, prison
UAE mulls punishment against dozens arrested at mass gay wedding

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - More than two dozen gay Arab men — arrested at what police called a mass homosexual wedding — could face government-ordered hormone treatments, five years in jail and a lashing, authorities said Saturday.

Meanwhile, the
 “Dubai Initiative (DI) was formed in 2004 when the Dubai Government approached the Belfer Center [at the Kennedy School, Harvard University] with the opportunity to advise and assist them in the establishment of the Dubai School of Government as an academic, research, and outreach institution in public policy, administration, and management for the Middle East.”

Of course, when news of the terrible treatment of gays in Dubai became public, Harvard immediately disavowed anything to do with the Dubai Government.

Ha! Of course not!! I said it was Harvard. No, the project continues to this day. Nor is that the extent of Harvard’s involvement with Dubai; Harvard Medical, also in 2005, “established the Dubai Harvard Foundation for Medical Research, which will provide funding for medical researchers from the region. Researchers will likely focus their studies on public health issues such as diabetes that afflict the Middle East.”

And to attach to such prestige, all Dubai had to do was ask nicely:

“Harvard’s program in Dubai—HMI’s largest and the only one with a land team—was launched in 2003, after members of Dubai’s royal family approached Harvard, asking for their collaboration on the project.”

So we see an interesting contrast in Harvard’s behavior: Dubai asks for help and Harvard goes halfway around the world to give it; our military asks for help and Harvard goes to court.

But of course there is one principle underlying all three of these matters. Can you guess what that is?

And please don’t all shout “Money” at once.

Side Note: Correlation or Causation? For years Dubai was a high-flying money center in the Mideast. But, a few years hanging around with Harvard and…: Dubai economy seen contracting in 2010

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