Demonstrators confront Marty Peretz in Cambridge with signs quoting his own words about Arabs and African-Americans
At an event on Saturday in Cambridge, Harvard University accepted a new research fund in honor of New Republic editor-in-chief and former Harvard teacher Marty Peretz (full back story here).
A sizable group of students upset by Peretz’s writings over the years — most recently his assertion that Muslim life is cheap and that followers of Islam should not be protected by the First Amendment, for which he later partially apologized — was on hand to protest Peretz and the university.
Usefully, the protesters carried signs quoting Peretz’s own words as they followed him and his entourage through Harvard Yard.
Here is the must-see video of the protest:
Here is James Fallows’ take on why what happened today was an acceptable outcome.
And here is the press release put out by the protest organizers:
CAMBRIDGE, Sept. 25—Over 100 members of the Harvard community and others “welcomed” New Republic editor and the university administration’s favorite racist, Martin Peretz, at the 50th anniversary of Harvard’s Social Studies program with a combination of protests, walk-outs, and probing questions.
Demonstrators at the event confronted Peretz outside Harvard’s Science Center—which was held in part to launch a $650,000 research fund in his name—and followed him for several minutes while chanting slogans rejecting his racist stances.
“Just because President Faust wants to honor a longtime public bigot doesn’t mean that the Harvard community does,” said senior Abdelnasser Rashid, a social studies concentrator. “We’ve billed this demonstration as a ‘Party for Marty’ to show how absurd Harvard’s decision to celebrate Peretz is.”
Peretz attempted to sneak out of the Science Center’s back entrance around noontime but was quickly spotted and surrounded by Harvard students chanting “Harvard University will not stand bigotry” and “Harvard Harvard shame on you, for honoring a racist fool” as he walked aross campus.
The protest continued outside of the Adams House dining hall, where Peretz was honored at a Social Studies luncheon. During his talk, around 10 faculty and staff walked out in protest.
“It’s Marty’s party and he can cry if he wants to,” said Maryam Monalisa Gharavi, a graduate student in comparative literature. “But the rest of us are here to remind him that we’re not going to stand by while the Harvard administration overlooks his 25-year career in spewing hatred and bigotry. He has a right to free speech, not a right to be honored.”
Protesters had gathered in the morning outside the Science Center, brandishing signs with some of Peretz’ most memorable quotes from his long career of spouting racism. Peretz has described “Arab society” as “hidebound and backward”; declared that “many in the black population are afflicted by cultural deficiencies”; and described Latin American societies as “congenitally corrupt” with “near-tropical work habits.”
Peretz was roundly criticized during the Social Studies celebration itself. During the event’s morning panel, Berkeley economist Brad DeLong cited Peretz’s recent statements about Muslims and argued that the only “appropriate response” was “What the frackity frack is going on here?”
During the afternoon panel, several Social Studies alumni and current students challenged Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, former deputy attorney general Jamie Gorelick and Princeton professor Michael Walzer over their support for the Peretz Fund during a question and answer period. Students remarked on the irony of the session’s title, “Social Studies and Social change,” and asked the panelists how they managed to overlook a career of bigotry spanning decades.
The demonstrators joined the over 600 people, nearly all Harvard affiliates or alumni, who signed an open letter this week calling upon Harvard to reverse its decision to honor Peretz and establish a fund in his name. Separately, several Harvard student groups representing Arab, African-American, Muslim, and Latino students jointly signed letters condemning the decision to honor Peretz.
Harvard administrators have cited Peretz’ recent attempt to apologize for a few of his most recent remarks after they drew nationwide condemnation; but these half-hearted and belated remarks do not address the many racist statements he has made over the past few decades.
“The Harvard administration has no right to accept to absolve Martin Peretz of his racism on behalf of students of color and others who oppose racism,” Rashid said.
More Related Stories
- If Alex Pareene was a cable news executive...
- Portland's senseless war on fluoride
- Graphic video reportedly shows possible London machete attack suspect
- What economists get wrong about the jobs crisis
- Ted Cruz: "I don't trust the Republicans"
- Pa. governor "can't find" any Latinos to work in his administration
- Glenn Beck: "The American people have just been raped"
- "Original Coca-Cola had a very small amount of cocaine"
- Corporations accused of wrongdoing win battle to keep identities secret
- Weak, incompetent Democrats blow another one
- Lois Lerner, IRS disaster
- Cyber attacks could cause the next world war
- Donald Rumsfeld worried that marriage equality will lead to polygamy
- Experts: Fox News spying scandal a game-changer
- Biden cracks Obama teleprompter joke
- IRS official takes the Fifth: "I have not done anything wrong"
- Lessons from Lincoln leave gay immigrants behind
- Los Angeles elects first Jewish mayor
- Peter King: There's "hypocrisy" over aid by Oklahoma senators
- Anthony Weiner announces run for NYC mayor
- How policy nihilists in the Senate doomed LGBT immigrants
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11