We have written extensively (e.g., here) about a supposed racial hate crime at Harvard Law School. Persons unknown placed small pieces of tape over some of the portraits of African-American professors in a law school building. From the school’s reaction–emails to alumni, public meetings, fervid denunciations of the perpetrators, a purported investigation–one might have thought there had been a lynching. In fact, it was pretty obvious from the beginning that the tape was placed by a group of lefties who intended to stir up precisely the reaction that ensued. So the investigation was quietly dropped with no perpetrators identified.
Finding a racist at Harvard Law School is probably like finding a liberal at an NRA convention–unlikely. Anti-Semitism? That’s another matter. Let’s turn it over to the Harvard Law Record, where officers of the Jewish Law Students wrote:
At the Q&A section of an event last Thursday, an HLS student asked Jewish, Israeli dignitary Tzipi Livni: “How is it that you are so smelly? . . . A question about the odor of Ms. Tzipi Livni, she’s very smelly, and I was just wondering.” …
Thursday’s event was hosted by the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School and co-sponsored by the Jewish Law Students Association and Harvard Hillel. It was titled “The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict & the U.S.” The event was a conversation between former Israeli Foreign Minister (and current Israeli Parliament Member) Tzipi Livni and American Diplomat Dennis Ross. It was a civil discussion, moderated by HLS Professor Robert Mnookin, on the complex and important topic of the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
Given the opportunity to ask a question and to engage in productive dialogue with an Israeli political leader, this HLS student, who is the president of a student organization on campus, revived the antiquated and offensive notion of the “smelly Jew” – a term reeking of anti-Semitism – in order to insult her.
It seems inconceivable that an HLS student would do something so offensive, so explanations are in order. However, given that the student still has not been named publicly, nor has the campus organization of which he is president, one can only speculate. I speculate that he is an anti-Semitic Muslim.
A video of the event exists, but it has not been released. Dean Martha Minow issued an email to the Harvard Law School community. It included a strong denunciation of the student’s insult, but did not identify the student or provide any further information about him:
Tuesday, April 19, 2016 6:49 PM
Dear members of the Harvard Law School community:
At a panel event last week featuring Tzipi Livni, a former Israeli foreign minister and member of the Knesset, a student here directed an ad hominem attack in the form of a “question” to our Israeli guest. “My question is for Tzipi Livni is how is it that you are so smelly?” The student added, “It’s regarding your odor — about the odor of Tzipi Livni, very smelly.”
The comment was offensive and it violated the trust and respect we expect in our community. Many perceive it as anti-Semitic, and no one would see it as appropriate. It was an embarrassment to this institution and an assault upon the values we seek to uphold. The fact that speech is and should be free does not mean that hateful remarks should go unacknowledged or unanswered in a community dedicated to thoughtful discussion of complex issues and questions.
I urge all members of this community to treat all others as they wish to be treated themselves, and to respect the dignity and feelings of all, even those with whom they disagree most strongly on any given issue. The legal profession expects nothing less of its future members. We should expect nothing less of ourselves as human beings. This is a moment for each of us to pause, and perhaps ask, “Who am I?” — and, more importantly, “What kind of person do I wish to be? And what kind of community can we make together?”
Morgan and Helen Chu Professor
Harvard Law School
In the case of the small pieces of tape over the professors’ faces, Dean Minow initiated an investigation to identify the malefactors. You can be sure that if they had been conservatives, they would have been not just named, but prosecuted. We also recall the 2010 case where an HLS student wrote, in a private email to friends, that she had an open mind about the possibility of racial differences. She was identified and shamed by Minow and others.
Here, there is no need to investigate. The person who made the repellent comments is known. Yet his identity is being kept confidential, as is that of the student organization he apparently heads. Why? I think the answer is obvious.
The student who insulted Tzipi Livni has issued an apology, anonymously. You can find it at the Harvard Law Record link above. He wrote, in part:
To be very clear, as there seems to be some confusion, I would never, ever, ever call anyone, under any circumstances, a “smelly Jew”. Such a comment is utterly repugnant, and I am absolutely horrified that some readers have been led to believe that I would ever say such a thing. With regards to what I actually did say, I can see now, after speaking with the authors of this article and many other members of the Jewish community at HLS, how my words could have been interpreted as a reference to an anti-Semitic stereotype, one that I was entirely unaware of prior to the publication of this article. I want to be very clear that it was never my intention to invoke a hateful stereotype, but I recognize now that, regardless of my intention, words have power, and it troubles me deeply to know that I have caused some members of the Jewish community such pain with my words.
Right. He was just expressing a perfectly natural curiosity about body odor, from his perch somewhere in the audience. How dumb does he think we are? Or, rather, how dumb does he think Martha Minow is? Actually, he and I might agree on that one.
Another interesting question: Harvard Law School is very hard to get into, even now. Was this particular student given preference on the ground of his membership in an ethnic or religious minority? Dean Minow will never tell us, but I’ll bet the answer is Yes. Such preferences are given on the theory that the student in question, by virtue of his “diversity,” will provide an ineffable something extra that cannot be expected from those better-qualified students who are rejected. How is that working out?
The comments on the Record piece are interesting. This one reveals an ignorance so profound that one does not know where to begin. Click to enlarge:
Like most of our institutions, Harvard Law School has declined badly under the control of marginally educated leftists.
Notice: All comments are subject to moderation. Our comments are intended to be a forum for civil discourse bearing on the subject under discussion. Commenters who stray beyond the bounds of civility or employ what we deem gratuitous vulgarity in a comment — including, but not limited to, “s***,” “f***,” “a*******,” or one of their many variants — will be banned without further notice in the sole discretion of the site moderator.