Thursday, October 25, 2007

"What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas"

NRO's Corner has an interesting story.

Yesterday, the University of Delaware asked Asaf Romirowsky to step down from an academic panel at the University of Delaware because another panelist, University of Delaware political scientist Muqtedar Khan, didn't want to share the podium with anyone who served in the Israeli Defense Forces. Romirowsky, who holds joint American/Israeli citizenship and lives in Philadelphia, had been invited to join Khan, his colleague in political science, Stuart Kaufman, a staff member of the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, and a graduate student to discuss anti-Americanism in the Middle East.



Khan is a a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a Pentagon consultant. According to an e-mail he sent to the University, he gave a workshop at the Pentagon yesterday afternoon.

Laura, I have to speak at the Pentagon tomorrow. My workshop is from 12-4. I hope to catch the 5 pm Acela from DC and will be back in town by 7 pm. I will come directly, but may be late. I am also not sure how I feel about being on the same panel with an Israeli soldier who was stationed in West Bank. Some people see IDF as an occupying force in the West Bank. I am not sure that I will be comfortable occupying the same space with him. It is not fair to spring this surprise on me at the last moment.

One of the stock lines that used to be heard in old movies (before the idea of melting pot becoming politically incorrect) was about attitudes that were left behind in the "old country". There are large numbers of Australians of Greek and Turkish origin, but fortunately nearly all of them have left their enmities back in the "old country". You could refuse to share the stage with someone because he had bad breath, owed you money or was a blackguard; but it would be bad form to shun a fellow Australian simply because he was born a Turk or a Greek.

Muqtedar Khan is not even a Palestinian. He is listed as hailing from Hyderabad, India. But at any rate, that's the Old Country. In America -- in the new country -- people are supposed to speak to one another unless they're recently divorced, owe each other money or have some specific reason for avoidance. It's not the done thing to refuse to speak to someone because of his national origin. Because military service is mandatory in Israel, a refusal to speak to someone who has served in the IDF is pretty close to a refusal to speak to any male from Israel.

On this site I've been continuously opposed the collective punishment of groups; opposed the idea of deporting Muslims or Arabs; or otherwise punishing people simply for belonging to an ethnic or national group without regard to their invididual culpability. Are Israelis to be treated differently? If Muqtedar Khan believes he can righteously refuse to sit down with an American of Israeli origin in America, what will he say if he is refused service in a restaurant simply because he is from Hyderabad, India? I should think he would be well within his rights to be angry. Or am I missing something?

24 Comments:

Blogger Kirk said...

Am I missing something here? Why wasn't Khan the one asked to step down???

10/25/2007 09:08:00 PM  
Blogger JM Hanes said...

Ditto what Kirk said. If Kahn can't abide sharing the stage, why on earth was Romirowsky asked to step down?

10/25/2007 09:58:00 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

Wretchard, I think you're missing something. It's one thing to live peacefully with enemies from the old country in the home you've immigrated to, it's something much more intense to be forced to debate (hopefully politely) topics regarding the old country with those who were enemies of the old country.

In the note he didn't say he wouldn't do it, only that he'd be uncomfortable and prefer not to. That's no doubt true.

10/25/2007 10:44:00 PM  
Blogger geoffb said...

The fair and correct thing for them to have done would have been to write him back saying...
"We are sorry you feel this way and will understand if you do not wish to appear on the panel, however we will continue without you if that is what you wish."

10/25/2007 10:50:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

It is a basic principle of ethnicity that greater distance creates lower resolution in perception, and lesser distance creates greater resolution in perception.

Exporting anti-Jewish feelings is dangerous to Arabs and Muslims for that very reason. It's like getting someone from China to care about the difference between a Campbell and a McDonald (two clans in a Scottish feud), a Zulu to care about the difference between a Dane and a Swede, or a Turk to care about World War II.

10/25/2007 11:14:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

He felt that he could take this position because those in academic leadership are on the run. He's obviously right. Time for a change in leadership?

10/26/2007 12:05:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Bret,

Suppose it had been Romirowsky who said "I am also not sure how I feel about being on the same panel with a Muslim who was lived in West Bank. Some people see Muslims as terrorists. I am not sure that I will be comfortable occupying the same space with him. It is not fair to spring this surprise on me at the last moment." And further suppose that the University of Delaware asked Muqtedar Khan to get off the panel to accomodate Romirowsky, wouldn't it be true that Khan was treated unfairly?

Notice that in the hypothetical, as in the actual, there is no objection to the man. The objection is to his origin. To his origin. Why should this cut any ice in America? No one should kick a Muslim off a panel because he was born a Muslim. Why should it be different for an Israeli?

Khan seems to have nothing against Romirowsky at all. It's just that there are certain kinds of people he won't sit down with. But operating in this way breaks a very basic social rule.

I happen to have migrated to Australia. How would it be if I were invited to a panel and another invitee -- born in Lower Slobovia for example -- were to say, people from Lower Slobovia never talk to to people of your origin. Not that he had anything against me, but in Lower Slobovia such things weren't done.

Well first of all we are not in Lower Slobovia. And one of the things you sign up to when you enter Australia is the willingness to work alongside anyone, enter a public place beside anyone, deal with anyone, unless there is a valid reason not to. That's the rule of this society. You can refuse to serve a customer if he's drunk. You can refuse to serve a customer who's disorderly. But you can't refuse to serve a customer because he's black. Nor should you be allowed to boycott someone simply because he's a Jew. The difference is fundamental.

10/26/2007 12:09:00 AM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Wretchard --

You're missing the point. The Post-Modern, Post-American, post-Anything but PC/Multi-culti, complex caste system posits JUST SUCH DISCRIMINATION.

OF COURSE it is fine and dandy for people to refuse to talk to anyone who originates from Israel. These are the new rules, propagated by the Left and the Muslim allies, at considerable cost for over 40 years.

THAT Genie is not going back in the bottle, anytime soon.

So yes, it will be fine and dandy to not speak to, or serve, or have anything to with, or even refuse admittance to people who originate from India. Or Pakistan. Or Saudi Arabia. THAT is exactly where we have gone.

The Left broke the law and custom as applied to a color-blind, neutral, non-racially based system. For nearly half a century the effort has been to erase any vestige of equal treatment under the law. The effort has been completely successful and won't be undone.

You can't unbreak something. Particularly law and custom. So we are stuck with it. And OF COURSE collective punishments based on national origin, and religion, and other attributes are not only inevitable but the guaranteed result of the system constructed by toil and sweat of the Left.

Naturally, the Left believed it was a weapon against White Males (particularly) who would simply stand by and take it. For a while while the good times rolled this was true. Good times are not rolling anymore.

The FBI reports they can't stop shoe bombers? Well that's a guarantee for vigilante action in restrooms and other private places. And both custom and law support that now.

We can just expect more of it -- like I said the Genie is not going back in the bottle -- it's simply too late.

10/26/2007 12:22:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Interesting discussion. So often in American politics it just comes down to choosing good guys or bad guys and principles are thrown out the window. I wonder if the proliferation of simplistic Hollywood product has anything to do with this inability to reason beyond deciding who is wearing the white hat or black hat. This reminds me of the recent post here with a poll to test whether you were a liberal. There was no discussion of why the answers were correct; it was just an exercise of bad guy recognition and to then answer accordingly.

First of all, it seems from Muqtedar Khan’s email that the reason he did not want to share a stage with Asaf Romirowsky is that he felt the Israeli had participated in an immoral war; namely the occupation of Palestine. This transfer of potential moral guilt to the individual soldier is wrong and stems from confusion between two different aspects of Just War theory. There are moral judgement to make (unless one is a postmodernist and refuses to make moral judgements) about whether the reasons for starting a war are just (jus ad bellum). This judgement is only directed at the leaders who actually decided to start (or continue) the war, not at individual soldiers who have little or no choice in the matter. The second type of moral judgement to make is how combatants actually execute the conflict (jus in bello), and in this case individual soldiers could be held morally liable for massacres, etc. It is quite possible for a soldier to act honourably and morally in an immoral war, look at current attitudes towards the conduct of Erwin Rommel and Heinz Guderian in what most would certainly consider immoral wars..

In the case of the 1967 Six Day War there is consensus among most war theorists that the Israeli attack against Nasser was justified and does not qualify as an act of aggression. This is due to the fact that Nasser had massed forces on the border and had forced Israel to mobilize and stay at a high state of alert, something that the Jewish state was not able to maintain indefinitely; not to mention the Egyptian blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba. Whether this gave Israel free reign to occupy all the West Bank is very much another matter. Needless to say though, and given UN resolutions on the matter, it is not an extreme position to regard the Israeli occupation of the West Bank as immoral.

But the individual Israeli soldier had no voice in this matter and can only be held morally responsible for his or her individual conduct in the war (or subsequent occupation). So unless Muqtedar Khan had specific information about war crimes committed by Asaf Romirowsky in the West Bank then he really had no moral reason to refuse to share a stage with him.

What interests me though is to hear a comparison to whether the President of the University of Columbia was right in sharing a stage with the President of Iran. Compare and contrast that with the latest brouhaha on the Left over Obama’s insistence on sharing a stage with an anti-gay singer.

10/26/2007 01:19:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

What interests me though is to hear a comparison to whether the President of the University of Columbia was right in sharing a stage with the President of Iran.

The objection at Columbia was to a particular Iranian, Ahmadinajad, and not to all Iranians or to any Iranian who ever served in their armed forces. Those who objected to Hitler hypothetically being given the stage at Columbia objected to that particular German, not to all Germans nor even to all the veterans of the Wermacht.

Could anyone have said "I will not share the stage with any Iranian? Or any German?" How about any Israeli? Even one who is an American citizen and a respectable academic with a business to be there? And yet it has somehow become acceptable to say that, especially in European academic circles. But if that attitude is now considered moral or enlightened then in what era are we?

10/26/2007 03:56:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

This incidident is a big red arrow pointing to the heart of the culture war and shows why modern liberalism and Islam, as political philosophy, are poison for America.

The essence of the American Experiment, and the thing that made this Country so unique in the history of man, was the institutionalization of the supremacy of the individual.

The founding documents assured that (some day) neither blood nor religion would be the justification for political power and economic dominance over other men. Blood and religion are mighty forces in the minds of men and much of American history since the founding has been the narrative of the struggle to make good on the original promise.

Modern liberalism is a step backwards to Antebellum days when people were categorized by blood and advanced or denied opportunity based only upon some distant ancestors' genetics. It's actually even worse today as additional layers of privilege are being fed into into the system - gender, sexual deviancy, and now even religion.

Islam is as exclusionary as any political philosophy can get. Non adherents have no rights other than what may be granted by the sovereign. And once in, Islam is the Roach Motel.

Although modern liberalism and Islam clash on so many other levels they unite in the suppression of the individual. That a state university would participate in and sanction this grotesque behavior is disgusting and alarming.

10/26/2007 04:44:00 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

I took a class with Khan when he taught at Adrian College. While I disagree with him about almost everything he is quite open about his views. I'm not even sure if he's an American citizen. When I took him he stated in class that his goal was to make a multi-polar world and lessen American power. Again he makes no secret of this. Despite this vexing goals, I found his classes to be informative and he himself open to opposing viewpoints. It surprises and saddens me that he would deny someone else the podium. I'm inclined to think that there is some other factor or circumstance of which we are unaware because this is not in keeping with what I know of him.

10/26/2007 05:26:00 AM  
Blogger just a marine said...

Thank you for your leadership on the issue of the New World not letting the Old World drag it down. Our Old World ancestors' honor and mistakes are all thier own.

10/26/2007 06:07:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

This raises an issue I have wondered about. If Israel does something that upsets the Arabs, then Jewish Synagoges in France burn.

Now, I cannot imagine the most committed White Supremacist in the U.S. burning down a black church in Alabama because of something that happened in Ruwanda or Sudan.

A common crticism of the U.S. by Europeans is that Americans lack a "sense of history." Even Hitler used to say that. The point seems to be that we don't know our place in the world.

Now, are such "sense of history" linkages real or simply an excuse to do what people want to anyway? I have no idea.

Old World concepts of this kind produce endless misery - and here in the U.S. we cannot begin to fathom them. And that is probably something to be proud of.

10/26/2007 07:13:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Any reason Asaf Romirowsky shouldn’t expedite Muqtedar Khan’s and University of Delaware fellow travellers scheduled meeting with Allah, using an explosive belt full of poisoned nails? I think not.

10/26/2007 08:17:00 AM  
Blogger LarryD said...

This transfer of potential moral guilt to the individual soldier is wrong ...

The Left is all about group guilt. As long as it serves their agenda, of course.

Kevin, Israel was quite prepared to negotiate on the return of West Bank and Gaza, but Jordan and Egypt weren't prepared to negotiate peace. Both Jordan and Egypt renounced their claims on the territories, so what was Israel supposed to do?

Well, they finally decided to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza (after starting the fence), and we've seen how well that is working out. Not too bad for Israel, but a hell of their own making for the Palestinians. Sooner or later though, the Hamas government of Gaza will force Israel to invade.

peterboston, rwe, Spengler makes the point that America is a nation made up of people who chose (or their ancestors chose) to surrender their old ethnic identity for an identity not ethic based. The process has sometimes taken unconscionably long (as with the Chinese immigrants of the 19th Century), but that has been America's premise for a long time. (Too many of the current wave of illegal aliens don't feel that way, which is why America has to give them the bum's rush.)

10/26/2007 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger demosophist said...

I received an email about this yesterday from FIRE, but it wasn't entirely clear to me what the outcome had been. I mean, I understood that Kahn had expressed reservations about appearing on the stage with Romirowsky, and that Romirowsky had been asked to "step down." However, I didn't read anything in the report that stated clearly Romirowsky had agreed to do so. Would it not be appropriate for him to simply refuse the request, and tell them that he fully intended to attend? I can therefore only surmise that his willingness to acquiesce is part of the general intimidation against the politically incorrect that has become integral to higher education. The problem isn't just the University of Delaware University; it's sector-wide and growing.

10/26/2007 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

The crux of this issue has little to do with the two individuals involved. People disagree and despise each other for all sorts of reasons. It is the University that has violated its moral duty to honor its invitations. Surely this decision to pressure Romirowsky was made by a young underling who didn't understand the gravity of such a misguided choice.

10/26/2007 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

Look at the Brownshirt reaction on college campuses to David Horowitz, and others lecturing on Islamo-fascism. They were nearly universally shouted down and driven from the stage. Welcome to the new America, peopled by intolerant totalitarians who despise our traditions of free discourse, as much as they despise our cultural superiority, our military prowess and our religious heritage.This thing might have to get ugly before it gets better.
Anybody see Ted Rall's latest atrocity, a cartoon claiming how the US gene pool is improving because of the killing of the "idiot" soldiers in Iraq. What a flaming piece of excrement! If only we could trade him to the Wahhabis for a couple of pounds of figs. They could put a video on Youtube of them disemboweling him.

10/26/2007 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger reoconnot said...

"Torture seriously harms American prestige abroad and will leave a bad stink in the gulf, one that future administrations will find costly to clear up."

What on earth are you talking about? Are you on the right thread? Who has been tortured? Do you consider waterboarding torture? It causes no permanent physical or mental harm and it works.

Being shocked does not drive you crazy. Being possessed by BDS doesn't drive you crazy either -you already are - but it makes your illness more readily apparent.

If someone is in possession of information which, if disclosed, will save the life of even one innocent human being, the failure to use aggressive interrogation techniques which cause no lasting harm to disgorge that information is immoral. And those who lack the courage and intellelectual strength to defend what is clearly defensible and proper are moral wimps.

The same may be said of those who are queasy about the mission to liberate Iraq. The U.S. is giving blood and treasure to enable 28 million Iraqis to grasp freeedom and democracy should they choose it. This is what should be remembered "in the gulf " and around the world.

Some, like reoconnot consider the mission ill advised. I demur. Only time will tell who is right.

We don't need any time, however to think through whether those fighting the mission deserve our support and encouragement. You need only think of who they are fighting.

Those who now claim they can't stand the sight of blood did nothing when the blood of innocents was being spilled at a much higher rate than now and are mindlessly ignorant of how much blood will be spilled if the mission is prematurely abandoned.

10/26/2007 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

This is what the Left has created. Group rights and guilt and innocence. Some groups being favored over others. You can agree with or not, but regardless it is both law and custom now.

It's simply NOT POSSIBLE to construct an America with individual rights.

Therefore, since the Left has allied itself WITH Muslims against Jews (and everyone else) we can expect more of this.

It's not just an ex-Israeli soldier. It's taking the side of the leader of a country dedicated to wiping out America along with Israel. Nut-Job. It's taking the sides of terrorists killing Americans over Americans soldiers, marines, and sailors. It's the desire to use Muslims to wipe out every vestige of American culture, including Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving, pets, women not in tents, and more.

And of course the flipside is that taking away the basis of individual rights means there is no limitation to what can be done when the pendulum swings the other way as it will after another mass casualty attack.

Round up all Muslims in camps? INEVITABLE because groups rights trump individual rights and all that makes Muslim groups triumphant over others (for now) is political power. If political power shifts (as it will) Muslims including a number of innocent ones will get it in the neck.

Let's be honest Kevin -- this is the world that the Left created at considerable sustained effort for decades. Individual rights are as dead as the dodo. So we should not be shocked by the outcome.

[As for Israel, no one in the Palestinian lands will sign any agreement with Israel allowing any remnant of Israel to exist. If Abbas did that he'd have his throat cut within the hour, and would know well who would give the order and who would carry it out. There is no possibility for any peace with Israel until the basis for Palestinian society -- the "Big Man" society -- is overturned by most likely killing about 40-50% of military age men 16-50. Nevertheless Israeli public opinion does not either lots of Arabs among them nor fruitless occupations of same nor punitive expeditions costing valuable lives (the Israelis are not a "Big Man" society and every son is precious, unlike Arab society). We are likely to see complete Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank as well for their own purposes, great big walls put up to keep Arabs out, and escalating exchanges of rocket attacks and artillery culminating in a sustained air campaign aimed at killing lots of Palestinians to stop the rocketing. My cynical side says Barak is pressing Olmert to offer the moon to Abbas knowing it will enrage the Israeli public and be "riskless" since Abbas dare not agree to it or risk certain death -- hence the meaningless dance at Annapolis designed to boost Barak, torpedo clueless Olmert, and throw a lifeline to Abbas vs. Hamas/Hezbollah/Iran on the West Bank. Needless to say the killing will go on since Palestinians resemble a pride of lions in social organization.]

10/26/2007 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

My guess, and it's only a guess, is that Khan would gladly have a beer with Romirowsky if they ran into each other offstage. But an academc lives in a world of funding and peer approval. It might be possible for Romirowsky to survive standing on the same stage as Khan, but maybe -- just maybe, and I'm speculating here -- Khan could never live down standing on stage with Romirowsky.

I recall that one of the feminist professors who listened to Larry Summer's speech when he quiet blandly asked for more research into gender differences in scientific achievement felt faint, like she was going to pass out or become violently sick. I read and reread Summer's speech. You could disagree with it, but nothing in it was remotely inflammatory. Yet the effect it had on one feminist professor was just as if you'd set off a CS gas canister.

So there's an asymmetrical response to situations like this. Maybe we ought to feel sorry for professor Khan for the company he's forced to keep.

Years ago one of the leaders of the anti-Marcos opposition, the late Gasty Orgtigas, recounted how he was at a meeting with some Bay Area Leftists who asked him how they should torture Ferdinand Marcos in the event they caught him after he was overthrown. (Yes, they do say things like this off the books.) Gasty Ortigas replied, "oh, put him in one of those four hour meetings you have." They were furious. But it was so much fun he just had to say it. Gasty was the kind of guy who honest to a fault. And I take comfort in the knowledge of where he is not. Hell is where we are forced to live with our humbug.

10/26/2007 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

jjmollo,
"Surely this decision to pressure Romirowsky was made by a young underling who didn't understand the gravity of such a misguided choice."

That's extremely naive. The majority of academia has been kowtowing to the liberal viewpoint for many years. Look at Harvard, Duke, Colorado, UC Davis for recent examples.

10/26/2007 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

FWIW, the short article at NRO is somewhat unclear on the details. It says:

the University of Delaware asked Asaf Romirowsky to step down from an academic panel ... The program was organized by the College Republicans, the College Democrats, and the Students of Western Civilization Club. ...The students offered Romirowsky the opportunity to come to campus next week and speak alone...

Did the students ask Romirowsky to step down or did some University bureaucrat make the decision?

Khan's position is of course reprehensible but the decision to ask Romirowsky to step down may have been made by immature college students who may have felt bullied into this by Kahn's email.

A quick google shows that that the NRO piece is the only mention of this incident in the media.

10/26/2007 09:22:00 PM  

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