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Harvard: Which Side Are You On? Khatami to Speak at the Kennedy School as Iran Purges its Universities

Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami will be speaking at Harvard’s Kennedy School on Sunday, September 10. The timing of the talk is particularly embarrassing: Iran has recently accelerated its purge of liberal and secular elements from its universities, as recently discussed here. To make matters worse, the topic of Khatami’s address is the “Ethics of Tolerance in the Age of Violence.” The title reads like a parody of Iranian policy.

The situation in Iran is dire:

“Earlier this year, Iran retired dozens of liberal university professors and teachers. And last November, Ahmadinejad’s administration for the first time named a cleric to head the country’s oldest university in Tehran amid protests by students over the appointment.”

It is sorry that Harvard would give a platform to a representative of a dictatorial regime currently crushing its own academic world. That this takes place the day before the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks testifies to a particular callousness.

While Harvard may be welcoming Khatami, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is not.

“Gov. Mitt Romney on Tuesday said Massachusetts would not provide any security support for former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami’s weekend visit, calling his planned speech at Harvard ‘propaganda.’

“Khatami is due to speak on Sunday at Harvard University in Cambridge on the ‘Ethics of Tolerance in the Age of Violence.’

“Romney said Khatami will not receive a state police escort or any other state help. Federal officials will attend to his security.

“Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said the state normally provides a police escort to visiting dignitaries. He said U.S. State Department officials had contacted the state police’s tactical unit, which typically coordinates traffic-stopping escorts, prior to Romney’s statement.

“Romney, a 2008 Republican presidential hopeful, called the visit ‘a disgrace to the memory of all Americans who lost their lives at the hands of extremists, especially on the eve of the five-year anniversary of 9/11.’

‘”The U.S. State Department listed Khatami’s Iran as the No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism,’ Romney said. ‘For him to lecture Americans about tolerance and violence is propaganda, pure and simple.'”

Larry Summers leaves, and Khatami arrives. Will anyone at the Kennedy School raise concerns about the fate of Iranian universities?

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