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Dancing with dictators

The Boston Globe’s metro columnist, Kevin Cullen, has a revealing piece in the January 22nd issue about Harvard’s cozying-up with Libyan dictator Moammar Khadafy, who is holding political prisoner Fathi Eljahmi, while Harvard Business School is hosting and promoting Khadafy’s son, Saif Al-Islam. (And, notes Cullen, the Globe published an op-ed by Khadafy after receiving an entreaty from the Libyan family’s New York-based public relations firm.)

It is a relief to see that someone at the Globe recognizes that there’s something wrong with the picture of Harvard dancing with dictators – especially iron-fisted rulers with substantial petro-wealth and a knack for suppressing dissent. None of this comes as a surprise to The Free For All, however. Loyal readers will perhaps recall my column in this blog’s parent, The Boston Phoenix, noting the trend toward major American universities’ cooperating with, and even building campuses in, oil-rich sheikdoms and dictatorships. And, in a related Minding The Campus blog entry, I talked about the corporatization of American higher education, which accounts in large measure for Harvard’s, and other universities’, close ties to wealthy dictators who have very little in common with western notions of education and academic freedom, but do share a mutual love of lucre.

I am, by way of disclosure, making a run as a petition candidate for Harvard’s Board of Overseers, the university’s second most powerful governing body, and my platform calls for a return to certain time-honored academic values. My Statement of Candidacy is posted on my website.

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