In the Washington Post, columnist Ruth Marcus offers her take on the new segregation at Harvard—she’s pro-segregation. I come to this issue as a member of another minority religion, Judaism, whose adherents often seek flexibility from the majority culture in order to practice their faith. As with Islam, my religion’s more observant believers endorse practices — segregating the sexes at prayer, excluding women from engaging in certain rituals — that I find disturbing, bordering on offensive. I have relatives who would shrink from shaking my hand. Still, I would defend to the death their right not to touch me.Marcus is a smart woman, but I think the analogy is wrong: The women excluded from certain orthodox Jewish rituals are, well, orthodox Jews. The men who are excluded from the gym because of their gender are not necessarily Muslim. They’re just men.Meanwhile, here’s a more extreme voice on the other side of the issue—a UPI columnist named Georgie Ann Geyer.So, what is going on here at America’s most iconic university…?
What we are seeing is a wave of arrogance sweeping into America with the wave of Muslim immigrants and students. One searches in vain for an individual or organized Muslim voice showing real respect or even a minimal liking for America or American customs.
Instead — and the situation is only one of many examples — the predominant attitude toward America is characterized by a sense of rights unrequited, and by an attitude of superiority that demands that we abide by Muslim wishes in place of our traditions.Sounds pretty nutty to me. But Harvard has to take some responsibility for the dissemination of such sentiments, because if the university makes such a provocative decision without bothering to explain it, extremists will fill the vacuum.It remains disappointing that, while this issue has caused debate on television and in newspapers and on blogs around the country, not one Harvard official has come forward to defend, debate, or even just explain the decision. Where are Evelynn Hammonds and Drew Faust?As Harry Lewis wrote in the Boston Globe yesterday, the university has missed an opportunity “to model for its students the kind of moral reasoning it expects from them.”Wherever one stands on this issue, it’d be encouraging to see official Harvard act in a way that makes you proud of the university.