'Ayatollah' Summers' Remarks Show Bigotry
Letter to the Editors
By encouraging the cancellation of Irish poet Tom Paulin’s poetry reading, University President Lawrence H. Summers has again moved to suppress the free exchange of ideas at Harvard (News, “Controversial Poet Will Not Give Lecture,” Nov. 13). Free speech is meaningless if it only holds for the politically correct. As a concerned individual, Summers could have personally joined the protesters planning to boycott Paulin’s reading. By acting as president of the University, however, he exposes antidemocratic impulses inappropriate for a university president. For “Ayatollah” Summers to contact English department members about his concerns and then claim, as quoted in The Boston Globe, that “it was for the department to decide” is disingenuous. It is time for Summers to stop targeting, as president, anything and anyone who supports Palestinian rights. His bigotry is showing.
Nov. 13, 2002
The writer is professor of psychology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.