Hard-Vard

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Middle East scholar Martin Kramer, who is engaged in an ongoing feud with much of the Middle East academic priesthood, spotted this damning passage in an article on aid to reform Iraqi higher education (scroll down):

Ahmed al-Rahim, a teacher of Arabic language and literature at Harvard University, said he tried to organize members from several different academic departments at Harvard to help the Iraqis rebuild their educational system. However, al-Rahim found resistance, especially from individuals in the Middle Eastern studies department, because of their hatred for the Bush administration.

And how much better they must now feel …

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  1. I really don't see how this makes the Iraq war any less wrong.

  2. And honestly, isn't the bigger service to Iraq that Harvard is staying away?

    Harvard is among the world's finest centers of teaching and research. Yet these sorts of comments are frequent on this blog. Why? Is there no value to teaching and research?

    For those who remain entrenched in their anti-academic stances, consider this: People from around the world clamor to get into Harvard and other elite US universities. That suggests that the market places a heavy premium on their services. So perhaps there is some merit to those academics after all...

    (Yes, yes, I know, the US gov't is heavily involved in higher education. Bash away all you want. Still doesn't change the demand side of the equation.)

  3. It was individuals unwilling to help Iraqis if that help had to flow through the Bush administration. Harvard, as a collective, was not ascribed a position. That there are some bitter lefties at Harvard who might rather see Iraqis suffer than Bush succeed is really no surprise.

    Probably the same cadre who trumpet their compassion from atop ivory towers.

  4. Who is al-Rahim affiliated with? Did he make his remarks at an Coalition Provisional Authority-American Enterprise Institute event? It's not clear at all.

    This article (and its source) seem to take as a given that Iraq's state universities not only need de-Batthification (certainly!) but that they should be dismantled and replaced with private universities with an AEI-endorsed curriculum (not so certainly!).

    Maybe al-Rahim's collegaues just didn't want to join the particular higher-ed-rebuilding initiative he was promoting. Sort of like how in the early 1990s, genuinely wanting to see good market-oriented reform in Eastern Europe didn't necessarily mean you had to be on board with Jeffrey Sachs's ruinous privatization schemes.

    "Damning passage"? Ehhh.

  5. Thoreau,
    WHICH Harvard are they clamouring to attend? The business school, the medical school, or the Liberal Arts programs? I'm a Conservative Alumnus of a large STATE university so it can be said that I have a double animus towards Harvard, however, does Iraq really need all of Harvard, the English Department, the Sociology Department, or even the Political Science Dept.? Does Iraq REALLY need Critical Gender/Racial Studies Theories or Multi-Space Decision Matrices in Public Policy Spaces? In short, does Iraq need more Liberal gobbledygook or does it need engineers, doctors, and lawyers? Heck I'm an American and I'm not so sure that AMERICA benefits from much of Harvard!

  6. Thoreau,
    WHICH Harvard are they clamouring to attend? The business school, the medical school, or the Liberal Arts programs? I'm a Conservative Alumnus of a large STATE university so it can be said that I have a double animus towards Harvard, however, does Iraq really need all of Harvard, the English Department, the Sociology Department, or even the Political Science Dept.? Does Iraq REALLY need Critical Gender/Racial Studies Theories or Multi-Space Decision Matrices in Public Policy Spaces? In short, does Iraq need more Liberal gobbledygook or does it need engineers, doctors, and lawyers? Heck I'm an American and I'm not so sure that AMERICA benefits from much of Harvard!

  7. Why don't we ask Henry Kissinger which parts of Harvard are important?

  8. Kevin, I completely agree. I would never limit someones right to whine and bitch like a sick dog. I was just trying to draw a comparasion between the two examples (an right of center religous hospital and a left of center academic campus) and thier rights to do as they will.

    Thoreau, Yes Harvard is all that. But what is it exactly? I have been honored to work within the Pharma industry with a number of Ivy products. It's branding. I have to admit, Harvard as a "Harvard is among the world's finest centers of teaching and research." is something I find very amusing. And to be fair, lets include Yale in the equation as well.

    After working with a number of prospects from a number of universities and colleges around the country. My take on the Ivy's: You can't count on them. They are popular the way crack coke was popular. I can't tell you why, and although I would never expect someone to take my word for it (and I mean never) I can only give you my take on what it means to work with (for example a statistician) from the Ivy's: don't do it.

  9. When I worked small company turnovers Harvard was very important to me. No one was as easy to skin out of a good sale price as a Harvard MBA. All you had to do was act kinda slow and hick and they would oversell themselves (and overbuy your small company) every single time.

  10. "In short, does Iraq need more Liberal gobbledygook[?]"

    Gee, I never knew the main problem with institutions of higher learning in Iraq was that they were overrun with Liberals (capital "L", natch)...

  11. It's ok, it's kinda like Woodstock. Ten years from now the can claim they were invovled anyway.

  12. I think the reason that the passage is so "damning" is that it highlights what the professors are truly concerned with. They are not willing to help Iraqis get an education because of their feelings about the Bush administration, even though they hate the Bushies, its the Iraqis who end up getting screwed. THAT's why its so "damning."

  13. "Gee, I never knew the main problem with institutions of higher learning in Iraq was that they were overrun with Liberals [capital 'L," natch)..."

    Well, then SR you're either a CS Major or a hard sciences major, or you're a Liberal. 'Cuz I ain't seed many Liberal Arts Departments that ain't over run wit Liberals. I reckon U of Chicago might be not AS infested, otherwise I don't think you can swing a dead cat in your average English, Sociology, Political Science Department without smiting several brands of Marxist, Frankfort Schule Marxist, Green or Social Democrat.

    I also note you failed to provide any counter-evidence to my assertion. Further, I might add, I did not present the "main problem" of higher education was that it was over run with LIBERALS. I asked the question did Iraq really NEED Harvard, or at least the Harvard Liberal Arts Departments? So in sum, my argument had NOTHING to do with the problems of Higher Education, but rather with the dubious additions that certain Higher Ed Departments might make to the success of a postwar Iraq.

    SOME of Higher Ed's problems relate to the political monoculture on campuses, those are mostly PR problems though. Higher Ed is inefficient and arrogant, it needs a thorough overhaul and a whole lot less Federal support. Or in the immortal words of the Joker, "What this town needs is an enema..."

  14. Er, from Brent Bozell's CNSnews via Townhall.com? Excuse me if I find this a little bit hyperbolic.

  15. Or maybe they were just afraid of being kidnapped and beheaded... wimps. 😉

  16. I have to admit, I thought freedom encompassed the freedom of association. Maybe I'm wrong? Catholic hospitals should be forced to perform abortions and Harvard should be forced to help Bush/Iraq?

    And honestly, isn't the bigger service to Iraq that Harvard is staying away?

  17. Skeptikos,

    When H&R posts a critical comment about a corporation with a bad anti-privacy policy, the howls of outrage start: "They're a private business. They have a right to do anything they want." Your comment falls into the same category.

    Yes, freedom encompasses free association, and the right to do as you wish with your own property.

    But it also encompasses free speech and the marketplace ideas, including the right to publicly criticize others for their choices.

  18. "I really don't see how this makes the Iraq war any less wrong."

    Jehovah speaks again. Have you ever tried to make a reasoned argument, mr. iraqwarwrong?

  19. I'd feel good about not havng gone. Not because I hate Bush (don't), it's just that I wouldn't want to be stuck on year's contract as an American in the middle of Baghdad today.

  20. I'd feel good about not havng gone. Not because I hate Bush (don't), it's just that I wouldn't want to be stuck on year's contract as an American in the middle of Baghdad today.

  21. Your friendly neighborhood Harvard infiltrator here.

    All I have to add is that the people in non-faculty positions at Harvard tend to be much saner. Coming back from lunch a couple of days ago, and seeing DNC canvassers in addition to the usual bums, I said, "Not only were the beggars out today, so were the Democrats!"

    A co-worker said, "You could tell the difference?"

  22. Probably the same cadre who trumpet their compassion from atop ivory towers.

    porcelain insulator

  23. First off, I?d like to say that this is not defined as an absence of war. It is the presence of liberty, stability, and prosperity. In the face of the enemy. Don't buy into the pessimism and apathy that says, "It's hopeless," "They hate us too much," "That part of the men and women serving here in Iraq the enemy wherever you are.

    You are a mighty force for good, because truth is on your side. Together we will ultimately fail. That is why I am asking for your support. Become a voice of truth in your community. Wherever you are fight the lies of the men and women serving here in Iraq the enemy wherever you are.

    You are the soldiers at home fighting the war of perception with the media and American people. Our enemy has learned that the people in the highest regard. We love to criticize ourselves almost to an endless degree, because we care what others think.

    Our enemies see this as a weakness and are trying to exploit it. When we ask ourselves questions like, "Why do the Japanese hate us so much?" or "How can we change ourselves so that they won't do that again?"

    Here in Iraq would be a goldmine. When our so-called "trusted" American media takes a quote from an Iraqi doctor as the gospel truth over that of the horrendous tyranny of the world will let us!

    If the American Revolution was all about. Have we forgotten? Freedom is not peace. The peace that so-called "peace advocates" support can only be brought to Iraq through the military. And we are making the whole world safer.

    Your efforts at home and abroad. We are a people that cherish the democratic system of government and therefore hold the will of the world will let us! If the American people believe we are playing into our enemies' hands. Our natural tendency to question ourselves is being used against us to undermine our effort to do good in the world. How far would we have to remember is that peace is not peace.

    The peace that so-called "peace advocates" support can only be brought to Iraq through the military. And we are doing a tremendous amount of good. Spread the word. No one is poised to make such an amazing contribution to the detriment of our brave heroes fighting for liberty and peace.

    What we have to remember is that peace is not free and "peace" without principle is not peace. The peace that so-called "peace advocates" support can only be brought to Iraq through the military.

    And we are failing, even if we are making the whole world safer. Your efforts at home and abroad.

    We are a people that cherish the democratic system of government and therefore hold the will of the enemy is trying very hard to portray our efforts over here, you can refute them by knowing that we are failing, even if we are making the whole world safer.

    Your efforts at home are directly tied to our success. You are the soldiers at home and abroad.

    We are a people that cherish the democratic system of government and therefore hold the will of the people back home will lose the will of the enemy.

    Don't buy into the pessimism and apathy that says, "It's hopeless," "They hate us so much?" or

    "How can we change ourselves so that they won't do that again?"

    Semper Fi - Credo Elvem ipsum etiam vivere!

    1st Lt. Mark V. Shaney USMC
    Baghdad, Iraq

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