Illustration by Pat Crowley
Over the weekend, Roger Kimball reported two new facts related to the enforcement of sharia prohibitions at Yale University Press against publishing imagery of Mohammed -- and especially imagery of Mohammed that illustrates the sacralized links between Mohammed and jihad violence.
Not only was Yale Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer in on the Motoon-censoring consulation with author Jytte Klausen, but also one of the "experts" advising Yale on whether to print, or not to print, Sheila Blair of Boston College, told Roger "she was contacted not by [Yale University Press] but by the “Office of the President of Yale University.” Roger writes:
Professor Blair declined to speculate about the significance of that fact. I will not be so chary. Yesterday, I wrote wondering whether John Donatich, the Director of the Yale University Press, was the “villain” or the “fall guy” in this sordid little drama. As I said in response to a comment from [author] Jytte Klausen, “I strongly suspect . . . that the threats-of-violence trope was a pretext, or at most a subsidiary concern” for Yale. What was the real reason that Yale was anxious to bowdlerize Professor Klausen’s book? Even now, I know, energetic investigative reporters are looking into Yale’s financial relationships with some of the spots where Linda Lorimer, Vice President and Secretary of the University, told Professor Klausen she has often traveled recently: Saudi Arabia, for example.
And that last bit was the second fact Roger uncovered: that Yale VP and Secretary Lorimer has been travelling around the Arab world, including Saudi Arabia, often.
Well, it's a free country -- world, well, not all of it, and certainly not Saudi Arabia, especially for a feminist like Lorimer, but whatever. Cherchez la dough. A reader of mine, noting Roger's post, reminded me that last December, Saudi Arabia's Prince Turki unloaded what my correspondent described as a "Jew-hating speech" over at Princeton to the enthrallment of all administration and faculty members present. This was a couple of months after Princeton Prez Shirley Tilghman had become a became a founding trustee of a new money-drenched university in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia -- King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST).
I have not yet seen the transcript to Prince Turki's 2008 Princeton speech, but the one write-up I have found so far in The Jewish State, a central New Jersey community paper, conveys the rancor of Turki's rant against the very presence of Jews in the Middle East. Sample:
"It is universally agreed that the Palestinian people have been occupied and deprived of rights to their land." He added that Israel is "bit by bit appropriating the ancestral land of the Palestinian people."
Marvelous what cross-cultural fertilization can do.
The other Ivy-connected trustee of the new Saudi university is Cornell President Emeritus Frank H. T. Rhodes. (Also on the board is Mary Robinson, Presidential Medal of Sharia winner. Small world.) But no Yalie. This omission doesn't seem to stop Yale Prez Richard Levin from thinking and talking about the Saudi venture and "its endowment of at least $10 billion and a capital budget of comparable size." (As of last fall, Levin said Yale's capital budget for the next five years was $3 billion.)
I don't know the extent to which Yale and the Oil Sheikdoms have formalized relations, but at first glance, there is definitely evidence of Yale's pursuit of an Islamic dowry -- I mean, seeking joint-ventures in higher education with the Islamic oil world, and particularly in the Persian Gulf States. At least one set of Secretary Lorimer's negotiations fell through earlier this year [correction: negotiations fell through in 2008]. The idea was to form a Yale arts institue on Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island (now why didn't anyone think of this before?) but talks "collapsed," as noted in Global Media Journal, "over the question of degrees being awarded to students of the arts institute."
Here is how Lorimer herself described the impasses, interspersed with my translation:
From the beginning, we were clear that degree programs were not what we talking about.
Namely, "we" were talking about getting millions of dollars in exchange for setting up a building called "Yale" on a desert island.
We were exploring exciting plans for programs that would be value-added for cultural development.
"Cultural development" = sitting inside the "Yale" building = "exciting."
But in the end, they wanted degrees.
I.e., they wanted pig skins that said "Made in Yale." (On second thought, maybe not pig skins...)
And at this point in time, we just don't think we could mount a faculty of the same quality we have here, or attract students of the same caliber.
"At this point in time," Yale panicked, but not over selling its soul. Yale panicked over decreasing its brand value in the open-market -- I mean, souk.
Only the Yale Corporation knows for sure, but my hunch is that Yale is taking a new tack toward Islamic coffers. Check this August 1, 2009 Arab News story:
"Saudi Woman Selected for Yale World Fellows Program"
RIYADH: Yale University selected Muna Abu Sulayman, general secretary of the charitable foundation of Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, as a world fellow for 2009.
Talal is famous for throwing around $20 million to universities the way some people throw around $20 bills -- only not to Yale. He is also famous for giving Rudy Giuliani his greatest "Nuts" moment: returning $10 million to Talal after 9/11. (Some background on Talal's checkbook conquests from Fjordman here.) Now, Talal's "general secretary" is a "Yale fellow."
The Yale World Fellow Program seeks to build a network of global decision makers who have a fundamental, mutual understanding born of common experience and information. The model naturally fosters collaboration and a commitment to shared success.
Yale University President Richard C. Levin, said it is extremely useful to have an international team working on their leadership skills.
"Extremely useful" ... for buttering up Saudi donors?
As famous as Talal is for doling out $20 milllion (just not to Yale), Levin is famous for having returned the same sum to Bass family, Yale alumni who wanted to support the study of Western civilization at Yale. (Silly them. If only they had earmarked the funds for, say, studying art on Sadaayat Island....)
Levin says he's "learned" from the Bass disaster, but he also he thinks "we're beyond" the culture wars, as he put it recently to the Wall Street Journal. He notes a "healthy coexistence" between scholars devoted to the study of the "traditional canon," and "those that are interested in a more innovative approach." The article continues:
The quality of U.S. secondary schools, state funding cuts and now diminishing endowments are the perceived threats to America's global pre-eminence in higher education. "There are a lot of countries investing in making universities stronger, especially in Asia," Mr. Levin says. "And now Saudi Arabia, with its very huge investment to build a university of science and technology. There will be more competition for American universities.
"And now Saudi Arabia...." Oh, brave new world. Maybe what Levin means (while perhaps stewing over that completely non-Yale, "very huge investment" of a Saudi university) is there will be "more competition" for American universities ... vying for Islamic money. And what better way to pull ahead of the crowd than to make a keeper of a big Saudi purse "a Yale fellow" while simultaneously enforcing the sharia restrictions on pictures of Mohammed?
Now there's an "innovative approach" -- to Islam.