A Professor Is Criticized for Saying the U.S. Should Bring Bin Laden Before An International Tribunal Instead of Bombing Afghanistan: A Debate On the Role of the University in Wartime

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Last week Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury Secretary turned President of Harvard University, said that Harvard, and the rest of the academic world, need to get in line with mainstream America. Summers has given several speeches recently calling for academics to support the war effort and embrace traditional American values of patriotism and respect for military service, even calling for the return of ROTC to Harvard.

Summers’ comments are strikingly similar to the report recently put out by the conservative American Council of Trustees and Alumni, which Compiled a list of 117 “anti-American” statements made by professors and students on college campuses since September 11. Several weeks ago we spoke to a number of academics and students named in the report, sparking students at several colleges to write the Council asking that they be included on its list for their anti war activism.

Joel Benin, a professor of Middle Eastern history at Stanford University and President of the Middle East Studies Association, earned a place in the Council’s report for saying the United States should bring Osama bin Laden before an international tribunal if he is found guilty, instead of bombing Afghanistan. Beinin has also earned the wrath oft he scholars associated with the conservative Washington institute for Near East Policy for criticizing U.S. policy.The comments by Lawrence Summers and the attacks on Beinin are the latest signs of a disturbing attack on dissent and of a closing of intellectual space at universities and colleges around the country.


  • Joel Beinin, professor of Middle Eastern history at Stanford University and President of the Middle EastStudies Association.
  • Daniel Pipes, director, Middle East Forum and columnist for the New York Post.

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