Sunday, August 17, 2003


Keith Windschuttle writes:

“Although fiercely contested, the prize for the most absurd comments about September 11 went to the American university sector where, despite the momentous nature of the events, it was business as usual in terms of the enforcement of codes of political correctness.

At Berkeley, the biggest student protest in the aftermath was against a campus newspaper for publishing a cartoon showing two Muslim suicide bombers in hell. The protestors denounced the cartoon as a "hate crime". At Yale, a panel of six professors concluded that one of the underlying causes of the attack was America's "offensive cultural messages"....

There were some academics who, in the heat of the moment, overlooked the prevailing politically correct speech codes and paid the price. One of these was Charles H. Fairbanks, director of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. During a panel discussion about September 11, Fairbanks, a well-known conservative, said he favoured the United States retaliating against governments who supported the terrorists. He also said the US would not be able to find bin Laden himself. He added: "I'll bet anyone here a Koran on that."

A woman in the audience then accused Fairbanks of making "a pathetic attempt at stand-up comedy" and of "innuendos intended to encourage and to assist people in conducting hate crimes toward Muslims." Fairbanks then apologised for the comment about the Koran. The following day, the Dean of the School of Advanced International studies asked him to write a letter of regret, which he did. The day after that, Fairbanks received a letter from the Dean telling him he was sacked. He continued as a research professor but lost his position as director of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute.

This was not the only incident of its kind. At Pennsylvania State University, one professor said on his website that it was worth killing some innocent civilians in order to topple the governments of Afghanistan and Iran. He was warned by a senior university administrator that Afghan and Iranian students "would find such comments insensitive and perhaps even intimidating".

At Orange Coast College in California, a professor challenged a class of students about why some Muslims who condemned the World Trade Centre attacks did not also condemn terrorism against Israel. For this, he was placed on indefinite leave.”

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