Profs, Pundits Honor Huntington
Political pundits and professors gathered at the Kennedy School last night to commemorate one of their most memorable teachers, the late political scientist Samuel P. Huntington, who died almost two years ago of congestive heart failure at age 81.
A panel of Huntington’s former students—including CNN host and Time Magazine editor Fareed R. Zakaria, Johns Hopkins Professor Eliot A. Cohen ’77, Political Economist Francis Fukuyama, and Foreign Affairs Managing Editor Gideon G. Rose—discussed Huntington’s academic and personal legacy in front of an audience of Harvard graduate and undergraduate students.
“He was a man of great principle even though it was not always a principle that was popular,” Zakaria said.
Huntington was one of the most influential and controversial political academics of the last fifty years. His theory that war is the result of cultural clashes has implications for immigration that make it one of his most widely cited and contested ideas.
The panelists shared an admiration for his personality, and also praised him as an academic and professor.
Cohen remembered how Huntington “knew how to challenge students without brow beating or bullying them and how to support them without coddling.”
“He was so damned smart,” Rose added.
Though the panelists did not necessarily endorse Huntington’s views, they agreed that his bravery in creating and enduring controversy was part of what made him a great professor.
“He always liked it when you fought with him,” Rose said.
Audience members questioned the panel on Huntington’s controversial stance toward immigration and his tendency to make generalizations.
Laura M. Esquivel, a mid-career student at the Kennedy School, called the discussion a “farce” because it avoided discussion of Huntington’s most controversial works.
“They did not answer my question,” said Esquivel, referring to a point she raised during the discussion about Huntington’s view that Anglo-Protestant Culture is superior to all others. “I am personally offended as a Mexican American.”