Friday, October 05, 2007

Why is Ann Coulter allowed to speak at an American university and Bishop Desmond Tutu isn't?

This morning when I read Juan Cole’s post, Tutu Excluded - Double Standard at the University of St. Thomas, I was so upset that I called the university, 651.962.4000, and left a message.

According to Cole, Tutu was uninvited from speaking at the Catholic University of St. Thomas [UST] in Minneapolis for his stance against Israeli mistreatment of the Palestinians. Tutu “[H]as stood all his life for nonviolent peace-making and an end to racism....

“And here is the kicker. UST is guilty of a whopper of a double standard. Two years ago, the university allowed Ann Coulter to speak on its campus.

"Ann Coulter once said of Muslims, 'We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.'"

Tony Karon posted My favorite ‘anti-Semite’ about UST’s refusal to let Tutu speak on its campus: “…Having asked sane and rational people to believe that Jimmy Carter is a Holocaust denier simply for pointing out the obvious about the apartheid regime Israel maintains in the occupied territories, the same crew now want us to believe that Archbishop Desmond Tutu is an anti-Semite. No jokes!

“That was the reason cited for Tutu being banned from speaking at St. Thomas University in Minneapolis. ‘We had heard some things he said that some people judged to be anti-Semitic and against Israeli policy,’ explained university official Doug Hennes.

“’The anti-Semitic’ views Tutu had expressed were in his April 2002 speech “Occupation is Oppression” in which he likened the occupation regime in the West Bank, based on his personal experience of it, to what he had experienced as a black person in South Africa….”

This afternoon I called UST at 651.962.6500, the office of the President of UST, Father Dease, where I left a message. I then Googled Father Dease and found this letter to members of the St. Thomas community regarding the Tutu uninvitation:

“…We became aware of concerns about some of Archbishop Tutu's widely publicized statements that have been hurtful to members of the Jewish community. I spoke with Jews for whom I have great respect. What stung these individuals was not that Archbishop Tutu criticized Israel but how he did so, and the moral equivalencies that they felt he drew between Israel’s policies and those of Nazi Germany, and between Zionism and racism.”

I read Tutu’s April 2002 speech “Occupation is Oppression” and found this reference to Hitler: “People are scared in this country [the U.S.] to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful – very powerful. Well, so what? This is God’s world. For goodness sake, this is God’s world! We live in a moral universe. The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosovic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust.” [emphasis mine]

Even though Father Dease’s letter was directed to the St. Thomas community and he ends the letter by welcoming their comments, I hope more people call him, 652.962.6500 (his office) or 651.962.4000 (the main number). According to the university’s website, its mission is to educate “…[S]tudents to be morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely and work skillfully to advance the common good.”

How in the world does Ann Coulter advance the university's mission and Bishop Tutu does not?

(photo of Tutu: Geoconger Files)


Anonymous said...

The lesson?

Don't fuck with the pro-Israel lobby. Nothing to do with Judaism, as we all know. A fun thing to do? Run around Los Angeles and yell, "I PROMISE NOT TO MAKE ANY JEW JOKES!!!"

Only those who are defensive, who are NOT confident in their faith, get riled. To the Jews who are bothered by innocuous statements like those made by Tutu: Get a grip on your faith as you've obviously lost it.


Gail Jonas said...

T (and I think I know who you are),
I've been forming an opinon for some time now that what is driving most of our foreign policy decisions in the Middle East is our UNCONDITIONAL support of Israel. And it's getting worse. It's stifling debate in this country and driving us to the brink of war, or war, with other Middle Eastern countries.

Calling UST and sending out my post represents my initial, and very small, effort to speak up about this. Having some Jewish friends who are blindly loyal to Israel resulted in my soft-pedaling my comments until now. But now more.

The "pro-Israel lobby" is more than the formal lobbies like AIPAC and ADL, according to Walt and Mearshimer, who wrote "Israel Lobby" and are also being denied venues to speak in this country, it represents all of the people and groups (including evangelical Christians) who unconditionally support Israel.

alt said...

Any university worth its salt will let all sides speak. How else are young minds to be taught to discern?

Anonymous said...

When I called yesterday the voice mail was full. I did find an additional number (voice mail full) but it's worth bugging Father Dease just a bit more to move him back to realizing that he's running a real university, not some Orwellian version thereof.

Anyway, the number is 1-651-962-6500.