The extent to which this University allows its members to engage in activities which ultimately cheapen the Harvard mane never ceases to amaze me. The disproportionate attention that the school lavishes on the sodomizers among members of its community is one such example.
Against my visceral repulsion, I respect the right of gay and lesbian people to engage in any perversities they choose in the privacy of their own bedrooms. This fundamental right to privacy is the price we gladly pay for the liberty which is the source of many of this country's great achievements.
However, as an issue of fairness, it is infuriating to see a minority command as much of our emotional energy and air-time as the gay and lesbian groups have in the controversy over Gen. Colin L. Powell's invitation to speak, a share of our attention which they are planning to increase as commencement nears.
More irritatingly, in this redoubled spotlight, these sexual minorities have only showcased a selfishness, immaturity and remarkable provincialism that eventually makes them undeserving of any sympathy we originally may have been willing extend.
On April 15th, the Batelle Human Research Center in Seattle published the first serious study on gender and sexual behavior since the much-touted Kinsey report of the 1950s. Interestingly, it found that only 2 percent of the American population engage in homosexual activity, firmly contradicting the 10 percent figure from the Kinsey report that homosexual activists have proclaimed all along.
How can such a tiny minority create and then take center stage in a national debate over their status? Shrillness and volubility would be my answer.
Now groups representing these sexual minorities at Harvard wish to extend their share of attention by converting Commencement into a contest of stentorian argumentation, essentially spoiling it for the rest of us who just wish to provide the happy and dignified send-off that the class of 1993 deserves. They also wish to increase their share of resources to fund a cocktail-lounge where they can study and be studied.
I'm appalled that inevitably, part of my tuition money would end up in this funding and it would be hard to imagine that there aren't benefactors of this institution out there who would not be equally outraged at this proposed use of precious funds.
More relevantly for more and more of our shared pool of intellectual and financial resources can only be characterized as selfishness.
This selfishness in turn produces a narrow view of the world in which the prominence of self-interests obscures the larger picture. Prof. Anthony Appiah of Afro-American Studies has criticized Powell's invitation by stating that honorary degrees "should be limited to people who contribute to education and knowledge, not by military leaders."
Frankly, I'm astounded to find such provincialism in a full-fledged Harvard professor. Such statements can only be regarded as the worst example of the ivy-tower self-removal from the real world to which academics seem particularly prone.
The fact of the matter is, there can be no greater contribution to education and knowledge than the provision of the security and stability which allows scholars to undertake their studies in peace.
It is, after all, the knowledge that there will still be a world tomorrow, in which to apply what scholars discover and invent today, that is the single most important motivation for the scholar's continued existence. It scandalizes Harvard that members of its faculty greet Powell not with the respect and gratitude he deserves for his role in securing the peace we enjoy today, but rather with egotistical, shrill demands for a change in policy which, realistically, he cannot support.
It seems that the most graceful outcome still possible under the circumstances would be for the offended parties to lay aside their rhetoric for the moment and allow the University as a whole to enjoy what for the Class of '93 should be a pleasant memory, not one marred by conflict.
As hard as it may be to imagine in the idealistic ardor that prefers to educate rather than be educated, this commencement might be an opportunity for gay and lesbian activists to listen, rather than to proselytize, for a change. Tom Lembong '94