Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The alumnus of folly

On April 22, 2007 -- the day after the British National Union of Journalists voted to boycott Israeli goods -- "a result that met with gasps and a small amount of applause from the union delegates present", the New Zimbabwe ran a story about one British and two American universities agonizing over whether or not to rescind honorary degrees they had bestowed upon Robert Mugabe.

Edinburgh University in Scotland and the United States’ University of Massachusetts and Michigan State University are considering recalling the honorary doctorate of laws degrees they conferred on Robert Mugabe. ...

The New Zimbabwe argued that Mugabe should be allowed to keep their degrees. Not because he deserved them, but because the universities deserved him.

Robert Mugabe’s honorary degrees should stay. They represent a period of madness in history where a genocidal dictator went on the rampage and the international community, the West in particular, either looked the other way or cheered him on. Any university that respects human rights should never ever have awarded Mugabe an honorary degree during the 1980s or any other period. ...

New Zimbabwe argued that even as Mugabe was mounting the stage to receive his accolades the universities should have known -- it is by definition their business to know -- that they were placing their diplomas in bloodstained hands.

These atrocities continued in 1984, the year Edinburgh University awarded Mugabe an honorary doctorate of law. The New York Times of June 21 even reported that “Robert Mugabe’s supporters went on a rampage and killed five supporters of Joshua Nkomo in Kwekwe”. ...

In 1986, the year the University of Massachusetts awarded Mugabe an honorary doctorate of law degree, the New York-based Lawyers Committee for Human Rights reported that Mugabe’s forces continued the “systematic campaign of terror and repression against the minority Ndebele-speaking people…”

Michigan State University honored Mugabe in 1990, the same year Zanu PF supporters unleashed Gukurahundi-style violence on supporters of the Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM) during the general election. Five candidates were murdered.

Those considering rescinding the degrees are simply trying to rewrite history and absolve themselves from culpability. They are engaging in a spectacular act in self-cleansing and self-exoneration.

How often have the self-appointed been certain they were on the winning side of history. But as Seth Lloyd notes in his book on quantum computing, freedom and contingency take a hand in determining the outcome. The future has not been written.

The quantum-computational nature of the universe dictates that the details of the future are intrinsically unpredictable. They can be computed only by a computer the size of the universe itself. Otherwise, the only way to discover the future is to wait and see what happens.

Academia, meet Robert Mugabe.


Blogger PierreLegrand said...

Wretchard I am not sure we should take too much comfort from the fact that civilizations mortal enemies, the left and Islamists, will be much hindered by the future. Only we can make a difference and we are not up to the task. We have been losing for so long that it appears we are used to it.
Click to Start Gloominess to Follow

We have a few who are up to using the lefts tactics, which are very effective, against them but those folks are mercilessly attacked by the very people who should be cheering them on. Because don't you know in war its not whether you win or lose its how you play the game. Ann Coulter and the culture war…Rhinos need not apply

4/25/2007 04:58:00 AM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

Robert Mugabe never insulted a palestinian

Robert Mugabe never ethnically cleansed a single palestinian

Robert Mugabe is honored for throwing out white settlers...

yep that makes sense...

now let zimbabwe die, just like darwin would have predicted

4/25/2007 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 04/25/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

4/25/2007 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

New Zimbabwe is correct. Those universities do deserve His Excellency to be a recipient of their honorary degrees. It doesn't reflect badly upon their reputations, for these honorary degrees ought to be seen from the outset as political approval for Mr. Mugabe's atrocities.

I'm reminded of the scene from Casablanca where the prefect of police was shocked, shocked, to see gambling going on at Rick's Café Americain.

4/25/2007 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger Elmondohummus said...

Huh... the New Zimbabwe's got a point: If a university rewards a terrible figure in history with a degree, the University gets to wear that albatross around it's neck for all to see and judge the worth of the university on.

I like the idea.

4/25/2007 02:49:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

If Yassar Arafat, the father of modern terrorism, gets a Nobel Peace Prize then who are we to complain about Mugabe's degrees?

Jimmy Carter arguably started the Islamiscist movement when he handed Iran over to the Ayatollah and HE got a Nobel Peace Prize. Meanwhile, Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War and freed all of Eastern Europe and most leftists consider him an idiot and a warmonger.

4/25/2007 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger John J. Coupal said...

The Nobel Prize is significant for the so-called hard sciences, medicine, physics, and even somewhat economics.

But, the Peace Prize is a political award whose recipient depends on the subjective politics of the awarders of that day.

Universities awarding honorary doctorates to the likes of a Mugabe are also showing subjective politics and should let such awards stand.

4/26/2007 07:58:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Powered by Blogger