06 Oct 2009

An Eminently Shakeable Yale Administration

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Evan R. Goldstein in Chronicle of Higher Education, discusses the infamous behavior of the current Yale Administration which chose to grovel in the direction of bigoted and fanatical primitives out of a classic New England establishment combination of effete cowardice combined with mercenary greed for financial rewards destined to flow from Arab states paying Yale to operate outposts of Western learning in their camel-scented capitals.

They really should have changed Yale’s color from Blue to Chrome Yellow while they were at it.

(Jytte Klaussen, the author of The Cartoons That Shook the World) was informed by John E. Donatich, director of the Yale press, that all illustrations of the Prophet Muhammad would be removed from her forthcoming book out of concern that they might provoke violence. “I threw up my hands,” an obviously incredulous Klausen recalled during a recent interview. Yale’s decision, made public in The New York Times in August, has been heatedly debated. “This misguided action established a dangerous precedent that threatens academic and intellectual freedom around the world,” warned the National Coalition Against Censorship. Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors, called the press’s action “fundamentally cowardly.” Reza Aslan, a professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside, withdrew his blurb from the book.

Klausen is plainly exhausted by the controversy. “It has been hard to see the book being sucked into the same polarization that took place around the cartoons.” She does not support Sarah Ruden, a poet and classicist who has previously published with Yale, who has called for academics to boycott the press. The press has already suffered, Klausen says. “Why pile it on?”

In conversation, it is clear that Klausen is relieved, at last, to be discussing the substance of her book, a detectivelike narrative that turns on this question: How did 12 drawings in a provincial daily newspaper provoke an international crisis? …

when does respect for cultural sensitivities drift into a curb on freedom of speech? What is the proper balance between responsible and free speech? “I don’t think free speech gives you license, particularly not as an academic, to say or print anything you want,” Klausen says. “As academics we have an obligation to speak on the basis of evidence and facts, but with sensitivity to religious precepts. But those precepts—be they Muslim, Christian, or Jewish—can’t dictate what we do.” The removal of the cartoons from her book, she says, violated that commitment to evidence and facts. “Worse,” she adds, “this is historical evidence that has been removed from eyesight.”

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