The latest apologist-for-Islam guest to be honored by Harvard's Center for Middle Eastern Studies is one Mark Perry, author, self-described "security consultant" and above all, raconteur (read "name dropper"): "When I was waiting outside Yasir Arafat's office..."
His topic at Cambridge's Baghdad-on-the-Charles was ostensibly the skinny on Hamas and Hezbollah. These days, the operative buzz-phrase among the academic cognoscenti is "multiple elective identities" (popularized by the Nobel Laureate economist Amartya Sen).
You see, we're supposed to look at Hamas, Hezbollah, Ahmedinejad and the Taliban as complex, nuanced actors with whom we can dialogue, and, ultimately, strike a deal with. There are no more monoliths, according to the university pooh-bahs. Except for one, of course. It's the tiny country in the Middle East that begins with I and ends with l.
There's no point in talking with Netanyahu or the settlers -- they have only one identity -- Zionists -- and we don't have to be told how evil that movement is. Hamas, on the other hand, according to Perry, is pro-democracy and anti-Shariah Law, hence it is possessed of multiple identities. Our academic betters are telling us to pay no attention to the mountains of corpses, flogged women or disappearing minorities in the Islamic world -- these folks are at heart just like us -- Progressives!
All of this academia-speak is intended to mitigate and to apologize for a growing Islamic hegemony and barbarism. One of the more absurd assertions Perry made was to claim that Hamas is practicing democracy in Gaza and has nixed Shariah Law. His audience, mostly morons straight from a Quaker Meeting House hugging session reacted with nodding heads.
Not content with his initial howler, Perry added that Hezbollah should not alarm us because it had been "marginalized" in Lebanon. A Lebanese woman sitting next to me simply couldn't contain her shock and laughter at his absurd assertion. She whispered to me that Hezbollah controls all of Lebanon, for all intents and purposes.
On a really surprising note, Sara Roy, the ringmaster of Harvard's bash Israel circus, became visibly squirmy at Perry because he obviously wasn't anti-Israel enough! At various points, he seemed to almost justify the Gaza incursion and rarely indulged himself in the standard Israel demonizations that mark Harvard's Middle East program. Ms. Roy and her mentor, Herb Kelman (one of those wonderful folks who brought us the debacle of Oslo) have traditionally brought in a surfeit of speakers whose constant theme is Israel as an "Apartheid State, brutal, Nazi occupier" etc... you know the drill.
On a positive note, two Middle Eastern audience members expressed deep skepticism over Perry's ludicrous statements, no doubt, also to the chagrin of Harvard's elite.