A letter from a reader about: Inviting, and honoring, are different
On Sept. 30, I was at Princeton to attend the 75th anniversary celebration of the Woodrow Wilson School, from which I was graduated with summa cum laude honors in 1951. I decided that I would not trust Princeton or the State Department to protect my right to protest Secretary Rice, and I therefore did not stand outside Jadwin Gym, where I knew that Princeton would once again keep protesters out of sight and sound of the object of the protest. That is exactly what happened.
After Secretary Rice spoke, spewing forth her usual lies and distortions, I waited until the applause died down, went up to the first row of the section in which I was sitting (about 30 to 40 feet from her), stopped, and then said twice: “Liar, war criminal, resign.” It was only after a State Department security agent heard the content of my speech that he escorted me out of the gym, much to my humiliation. Apparently, under this lawless regime, you are allowed to applaud, but not to boo. Ms. [Hilary] Herbold, who I understand works in the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, calmed me down and ushered me back into the gym, by which time a brief question period was ending. I asked Ms. Herbold to locate the security person who escorted me out so that she could reprimand him and tell him to leave me alone. She could not locate him.
Princeton University has been a total failure when it comes to protecting constitutional rights at a time when they are under severe siege. I have read about the open letter to the University community in the Princetonian Oct. 17 (Notebook, Nov. 16). I agree with most of that letter’s position. However, it misses an important point, the difference between inviting a speaker and honoring him or her. I strongly support opening the campus to all viewpoints as long as they do not involve direct advocacy of violence. But not only did President Tilghman and Dean Slaughter honor a war criminal by inviting her to keynote on that special day, their obsequious introductions and Dean Slaughter’s post-speech remarks were very close to being sickening.
A great university should have a soul and a moral core. It should not just be a “don’t-rock-the-boat” money-raising machine that allows its prestige to enable war criminals.
ROBERT A. BLOOM ’51
New York, N.Y.
Editor’s note: The following account of the incident in Jadwin was provided by Amanda Rogers-Harper, state department press officer: “The individual in question rose up from the audience at the end of the Secretary’s speech and began yelling “Liar” as he approached the stage. He was instructed by an agent to cease, but did not, hence he was escorted out of the auditorium. He eventually came back in and did not create any further incident.”
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