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The Unpatriotic University: Yale By: Paul Walfield
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, May 22, 2003


Yale University  is one of  America's  most  venerable and  influential institutions.  The  last three president have been Yalies (four, if you include co-president Hillary) along with numerous Supreme Court justices, Cabinet secretaries, dignitaries, writers, opinion-shapers and business leaders.  Yet this  aristocratic institution was the rude site of a professorial commencement "protest" when President Bush spoke at its graduation three years ago, has  recently played host to a virulently anti-Semitic "poet" and  refuses to honor and support the brave men and women of our armed forces whose sacrifices make its intellectual riches and freedoms possible

The Beginning

It was not always this way.  The Reverend James Pierpont, pastor of the First Church in New Haven, and several other ministers in 1701 persuaded the Connecticut General Assembly to pass an "Act for Liberty to erect a Collegiate School,” that in the words of the Connecticut Colony General Assembly, its students, “may be fitted for Publick Employment both in Church and Civil State.”  The flower of those efforts was Yale University.  In 1781, Yale bestowed the honorary degree of “Doctorate of Laws,” on George Washington.  Samuel Morse, Gerald Ford and George W. Bush all graduated from Yale.  Unfortunately, one of America's finest institutions of higher learning has turned its back on the United States.  As the founding would show, it was not always this way. Patriotism once flourished on Yale's campus.  Whether it was in 1917, and America’s entry into World War I, or in 1942 and America’s involvement in World War II, Yale did its part for America.  After World War II, Yale even guaranteed that any student forced to defer enrollment in Yale because of military service would be accomodated on campus.

Vietnam Radicalizes the Students - and Faculty

However, since Vietnam, that has changed dramatically.  To understand Yale’s slide away from  scholarly discourse and patriotic loyalties, one can start in 1969.  According to the April 13, 2002, edition of the New York Times, Yale was “one of the first universities to reimburse students who lost their aid for resisting the military draft during the Vietnam War (or) because of a conviction for drug possession.” 

Under the guise of pressure from anti-war protests on campus, the faculty, not the students, banned the ROTC from the Yale campus.   “Surrounding this decision was a powerful elitist streak among Yale professors," according to the December 4, 2001, edition of the Yale Daily News. "Military methods in disciplining and conducting classes did not seem to encourage students to ask enough questions… .  Yale professors objected to the military faculty using the title ‘professor,’ which they felt should only be used by tenured members of the University.” 

Today, despite a 25-year lull in antiwar protests, the Yale faculty still regards ROTC as a pariah on campus.  The Yale College Information Broadside 2002-2003 states, “Yale University does not host Reserve Officer Training Corps programs (ROTC) on campus. ROTC programs are available… at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut.”   As of February 2003, out of over ten thousand (undergraduate and graduate) students enrolled at Yale University, only nine were enrolled in the ROTC.  This despite that Yale is reported to have received at least six million dollars from the Department of Defense in 2001 alone. So much for Yale’s lofty ambition to train the future leaders in the military portion of the "Civil State."

Patriotism as Thought-Crime

After September 11, 2001, patriotism moved to the forefront of most Americans’ consciousness.  As nations around the world expressed solidarity with the United States, Yale moved further toward the leftist party line.  While nearly all Americans saw the attackers as enemies and as murderers, some at Yale saw the U.S. at fault and the terrorists merely as victims of America’s foreign policy.  These same elements would later castigate America’s intervention in Iraq to remove a ruthless dictator as an adventure in "imperialism."

This opposition took overtly anti-American forms, including censorship.  When a Yale student hung a sign out of his dorm window damning the hijackers, he was summarily denied his decision to express his views.  Yale’s Light and Truth publication reported that, because of the sign’s "offensive nature," the freshman counselors "responded swiftly, and successfully convinced him to remove the sign.” 

Free Speech for Anti-Semites

Not all on campus were forbidden from expressing their views on 9-11.  As America was preparing to liberate Iraq from the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein  Yale hosted Amiri Baraka a virulently anti-Semitic and anti-American  demagogue to speak on the war on the terror. The December 17, 1980, Village Voice quotes only a tidbit of Baraka's twisted, racialist conspiracy theories: "The movement among middle-class Jews to become straightup Americans, shedding their 'Jewishness' represents a progressive trend among Jews…. But in the process of 'shedding their Jewishness' middle-class Jews have adopted the same backward ideas of American racism… The vaunted Jewish support of black civil rights organizations…was in order to use them.” 

In a 1980 article entitled "Confessions of a former anti-Semite" (former?)part of a Baraka "poem" is reproduced: “So come for the rent, jewboys/or come ask me for a book, or/sit in the courts handing down your judgments still I got something for you, gonna give it to my brothers, so they'll know what your whole story is, then one day, jewboys, we all, even my wig wearing mother/gonna put it on you all at once.” 

From another work of art, "For Tom Postell, Dead Black Poet," Baraka gives these instructions: “Smile, jew. Dance, jew. Tell me you love me, jew. . . .I got the extermination blues, jewboys. I got the hitler syndrome figured.”  This same Amiri Baraka was named poet laureate of the state of New Jersey and honored by Yale.

“I'm not going to shut up just because they don't like it,” said Amiri Baraka. That's an understatement.

It may be understood by many that having a speaker who has made his living as an adult spewing anti-Semitic and anti-American rhetoric might fall within Yale’s code of free expression and having even voices you hate, speak their mind.  The Daily Herald reported, “Assistant Dean of Yale College and Director of the Afro-American Cultural Center, Pamela George defended the center's decision to invite Baraka. ‘The Af-Am Center seeks to foster racial and ethnic pluralism, but we cannot do that by tenaciously turning away from discordant voices in our community.’ She added that increased dialogue between African-American and Jewish students is ‘long overdue.’”

Dialogue with anti-Semites?  Is this Yale professor equating those for and against the existence of Jews and Judaism?  Nonetheless, it appears Baraka's visit had less to do with students and dialogue than the faculty's adulation.  According to the Yale Daily Herald, “What is troubling, however, is the enthusiastic response that Baraka's theories have elicited from some members of the Yale community.”  They appreciated Baraka's "discordant" voice.

According to the Yale Daily Herald, Mr. Baraka did share the source for his beliefs to his enthusiastic audience at Yale, “a Lebanese TV channel affiliated with the Hezbollah terrorist group. ‘Al-Manar is the first Arab establishment to stage an effective psychological warfare against the Zionist enemy,’ reads the station's website. Effective when it comes to Amiri Baraka, at least.” And, apparently his audience at Yale University. 

 Yale also seems to be sprouting its own “discordant” voices.  Daniel Pipes (who received his BA and Ph. D. from Harvard) noted in an autumn 2001 edition of City Journal, “Giving expression to this radical view, Zaid Shakir, a former Muslim chaplain at Yale University, argues that Muslims cannot accept the legitimacy of the existing American order, since it ‘is against the orders and ordainments of Allah.’ ‘[T]he orientation of the Quran,” he adds, ‘pushes us in the exact opposite direction.’”  It appears the same Zaid Shakir was invited to speak at Yale University on February 19, 2002 as part of their “Wake the Dream” program.

Indeed, Yale has itself moved away from describing itself as an American university.  On January 22, 2003,  Richard C. Levin gave a speech to the Yale Club of France declaring, “The globalization of (Yale) University is in part an evolutionary development… But creating the global university is also a revolutionary development… and the engagement of the University with new audiences.” He confirmed, “Yale is committed to its international agenda.”

Yale will not tolerate all discrimination, though.  For more than a decade, Yale barred military recruiters from campus because of the military's "Don’t ask, don’t tell" rule regarding homosexuals - allegedly because of the armed forces' discriminatory tone.  However, when Yale learned that it might lose upwards of $350 million in federal funding if it did not allow recruiters in, the doors suddenly opened to the gay community's "persecutors."  The October 2002 issue of the Yale Daily News reported, “Law School to allow military recruiters access granted to secure $350 million in federal funds.”  “Students, faculty and some employers participating in the recruitment program plan to wear pins and are distributing a petition in protest of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy…, spokeswoman Daphna Renan LAW '04 said.”  Despite its eventual surrender to good sense,this episode demonstrates Yale's anti-military, anti-American orientation and its alignment with radical political correctness.  Apparently Yale’s commitment to non-discrimination is deep, but not so deep that $350 million dollars can't make them change their tune.

 . . . But Not for Conservative Students

Yale's much-vaunted but often wavering commitment to free speech seems omnipresent.  Roughly 30 years ago, Yale founded the Freedom of Expression at Yale to preserve student (and faculty) First Amendment rights. However, they have tolerated breeches of this Constitutional right when it curtails conservative speech. Yale’s Light and Truth reported that Yale students - with the help of at least one Dean - stole hundreds of copies of the student newspaper when it criticized a safe-sex program offered to freshman.  The Light and Truth later remembered the incident by proving the incident “has everything to do with an ideological crusade to force freshmen to conform to a countercultural lifestyle….  The widespread conclusion has been that the freshman counselors, and their administrative enablers like Dean Susan Rieger of Ezra Stiles College, stole the Survival Guide because they were opposed to the content of L&T.”

Those on the other side of the political spectrum feared no repercussions.  One such Yale radical, professor Glenda Gilmore recently wrote an article expressing her utter contempt for America. Iraq, she asserted, is “the first step in Bush's plan to transform our country into an aggressor nation that cannot tolerate opposition.”  Her views did not go without opposition, as readers of the Yale News vented their opposition to her jaundiced view of America.  Gilmore, who holds the C. Vann Woodward chair in history at Yale, threatened to bring a lawsuit to stop students from expressing themselves online.  (Ironically, the Yale News reports C. Vann Woodward, for whom Gilmore's chair is named, was a "Yale historian and civil rights activist who, in Gilmore's words, ‘defended free speech throughout his life.’”) Upon hearing of this, the Chairman of the history, Jon Butler, sprung into action.  The Yale Daily News reported on December 2, 2002, “History Department Chairman Jon Butler informed the News he was boycotting the paper until the matter was resolved…. trampling First Amendment rights.”  Showing themselves more perceptive than their mentors, Yale students wrote, “Shouldn't Yale stand up for the independence and freedom of its student newspaper? Or is the University sacrificing its principles for silence? Does Yale care more about good press than free press?” 

Yale's professors did, however, use Yale's press when it suited their anti-war and anti-American agenda. On April 7, 2003, “Yale's number one news source and the oldest college daily” reported, “Six Yale professors offered a number of anti-war views on the causes and possible consequences of the current conflict in Iraq.”  Yale Professor Paul Gilroy, after viewing the happenings in Baghdad, and the rest of Iraq, thought real hard and came up with the following, “I think the morality of cluster bombs, of uranium dipped bombs, daisy cutters -- are shaped by an imperial double standard that values American lives more.”  Adding that America didn’t really care about a madman running an oil rich nation in the Middle East who undoubtedly had weapons of mass destruction and ties to terrorists.  No, America’s real reason for warring with Iraq was “a desire to enact revenge for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.”  But, he wasn’t finished, he also blamed Israel for getting us involved in war.  This guy teaches at Yale. 

Then there is Yale Professor Bruce Ackerman.  Yale’s Daily reported that Professor Ackerman said, "I can't really think of a worse president" than our Commander-in-Chief.  Making his politics explicit (as though there were any doubt), he added, “If we, and by that I mean the Democrats, had won the [midterm] election in November, we wouldn't be at war right now. But we lost the election.”  For some law professors at Yale, the war in Iraq was personal to President Bush; it had nothing to do with 18 UN resolutions, weapons of mass destruction or threats to America.

The rest of those Yale Professors stuck with the same line and thought.  America was breaking international law (despite the 18 resolutions).  America had devastated an independent Arab state.  In its April 22, 2003, issue, the Yale Daily News reported that Middle East, Arabic instructor Basal Frangieh held a tea social for his students.  The Yale students were in for a treat, Frangieh, who was in Bahrain at the time America launched its war with Iraq, wanted to share his insight.  “Now the region is in a state of chaos and decay, fragmentation and defeat,” said Frangieh, adding, “[Saddam] made every single Arab leader seem very small. He wasn't afraid. He said, ‘Come and get me.’”  The students at Yale were taught that a brutal, despicable tyrant who caused the slaughter of more than a million Muslims was a hero to the people of the Middle East.  “They were hoping that he would revive [nationalism].”  Apparently the toppling of the statues all across Iraq was a quaint Arabic custom showing admiration for a fallen leader.

After a teach in against the war, the Yale News reported a bright spot: Today's students are more level-headed than their professors.  One of the students in the audience is reported to have commented the teachers' hatefest "was long on wit, short on wisdom. It was rhetoric without content, opinion without foundation, but worst of all, it was above all an ego enhancement session for a group of smug intellectuals.”

 Those smug intellectuals never stopped their war against this country, even after numerous repudiations.  William Sloan Coffin, Jr. was voted the most admired figure in the world by the Yale class of 1970.  He was Yale Chaplain from 1958 to 1976, and was tried in 1968 on federal charges of conspiring to subvert the wartime military draft and was a member of the so-called Boston Five.  He would travel to Hanoi in 1972 during the Vietnam War. 

The Seven Days Vermont News reported the good chaplain’s views on the current administration, “Oh, shit, we’re being run by a bunch of people with messianic pretensions.” Adding, “Ayatollah Ashcroft… would make Jesus puke.”  And when it comes to America’s victory in Iraq and the liberation of 25 million Iraqi’s, “This war will have devastating consequences for this country.”

 Funding Tomorrow's Leftist Activists Today

The students of Yale, the leaders of tomorrow, America’s intellectual best and brightest Ivy Leaguers have formed their own distinct leftist groups on campus.  The Yale Free Press has critiqued some of the more radical examples, such as:

 Students for Justice in Palestine:  The group set up a mock checkpoint to demonstrate this "harassing" aspect of Palestinian daily life.  However, the group failed to mention the reason for the checkpoints - namely, terrorists and homicide bombers coming into Israel from the West Bank and Gaza.  The Yale Daily News spoke of “hundreds of years of Palestinians living in the area.”  Of course, “Palestinians” were not living in the area “hundreds of years ago,” because there was no Palestine hundreds of years ago.  Palestine is a 20th century concept. 

Students Against Sweatshops (SAS): Yale Free Press described them with one simple phrase, “Marxist economics.” 

The LGBT Co-Op: Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgendered, and according to the Free Press, the group is known for “Lewd posters, easy outrage, S&M workshops (really).”  They have six member groups: Not-Straight Frosh, BiWays, GAYalies, Prism, YaLesbians, and T-Gay (“Trannies, Genderqueers, and Allies at Yale”).

Yale SLAC (Student Labor Action Committee):  Activist member Laurie Kimmington is quoted in the April 27, 2000, Nation Magazine, as saying, “We are training an entire generation to think differently about [pause] capitalism.”   Adding, “Oops, maybe I shouldn't say that.”

 The students at Yale also formed a group called the Yale Coalition for Peace.  In January, the coalition staged a "die-in" to protest the potential invasion of Iraq.  The February 6, 2003, Brown Herald noted, “Yale's 500 member coalition is also planning to take action in the event of war. ‘If and when the war happens, we have plans for an emergency action,’ said Coalition member Ruth DeGolia.” 

We all can’t wait to see not only how long it takes for Yale’s Coalition for Peace to figure out they were wrong about the war - and to see if they will follow in the footsteps of their illustrious faculty and lose themselves in the parallel universe their anti-American professors seem to inhabit.  It is a long distance from the tiny college founded by American patriots at the turn of the 18th century.


Paul Walfield is a freelance writer and member of the State Bar of California with an undergraduate degree in Psychology and post-graduate study in behavioral and analytical psychology. He resided for a number of years in the small town of Houlton, Maine, and is now a California attorney. Paul can be contacted at paul.walfield@cox.net


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