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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

February 26, 2003

Applauding falsehoods at a university

Picked this up at Andrew Sullivan's blog, taken from yaledailynews What a bunch of morons those "bright kids" at an elite school are.
I was present at the Amiri Baraka affair at the Afro-American Cultural Center on Monday and I must say that it was one of the most disturbing events in my entire life.

It was not Baraka's ranting which upset me most. Having read his work, I was thoroughly prepared for whatever was bound to come out of his mouth. It was the response he received from my fellow Yalies that shocked me. Following a reading of his notorious poem "Somebody Blew Up America," the puerile verses of which are now well known to the Yale community, Baraka launched into a paranoid tirade. As he cited "evidence" of Israeli complicity in the World Trade Center attacks, many Yale students vigorously nodded their heads in approval and erupted into cheering. At the end of the event, the crowd leapt to its feet to give the former poet laureate of New Jersey a rousing standing ovation.

While Dean George wrote yesterday that "we do not endorse the extreme statements by Amiri Baraka that have occasioned concern in the Yale community" ("In defense of inviting Amiri Baraka," 2/25), nearly everyone at the event that day seemed to agree with Baraka's theories. His recent favorite is that on Sept. 11, 2001, the Jewish state warned its citizens working in New York to stay home.

Midway through his diatribe he singled me out upon viewing my skeptical expression, loudly announcing that I had "constipation of the face," and thus required a "brain enema." Baraka, an avowed Communist, got a laugh from the crowd when he affectionately quoted Mao Zedong on the topic of public integrity, chanting "No investigation, no right to speak." The audience loudly joined him in unison, repeating the words of a Chinese dictator responsible for the death of millions of his own people.

Baraka told the audience that it is "a pitiful thing to live in the world and not understand it," strange words from a man who is so hopelessly deluded about reality. After Baraka's talk, a Yale professor, who is also a Yale graduate, lamented the fact that so many students from his alma mater had just been "applauding falsehoods at a university." He said the Afro-American Cultural Center's encouragement of Baraka "reinforces bias and prejudice. It is confining rather than liberating for students. It is anti-educational."

The Afro-American Cultural Center and the Black Student Alliance at Yale have demonstrated that they have scant regard for civil discourse on campus. Baraka is little more than a racial huckster, a man who has excreted so much hatred over his 50-year career that his views have no place on this campus. While I agree with Michael Anastasio '04 that Baraka is "a man who deserves no attention at all" (2/24), what does deserve attention is that Baraka was invited here and received an overwhelmingly positive response from his audience.[more]