Writing in the Jerusalem Post , Mideast scholar Martin Kramer offers a highly educated, probably accurate theory as to why the Yale University Press shamefully banned reprinting the controversial Danish cartoons of Mohammed in the book it is publishing, "The Cartoons That Shook The World."
Although the Yale Press claimed this was to prevent Muslim violence as happened around the world when angry Muslims rioted when the original cartoons first appeared, the real reason the Yale Press agreed to self censorship and would not allow the cartoons that shook the world to be printed to shake the reader--and rioting Muslims again--was because, Kramer alleges
Yale's administration intervened not to prevent violence, but to prevent damage to its fundraising prospects in Araby. There's a strong prima facie case for this, and it revolves around Yale's courting of Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.
Over the years, I've reported on Prince Alwaleed's efforts to buy up prime academic real estate in the United States. It was six years ago, in July 2003, that Alwaleed, then the world's fifth-richest man, announced his plan to go on what I called "an academic shopping spree."
The crucial thing to know about Prince Alwaleed is that he believes in "strategic philanthropy." He's not tied emotionally to particular universities, and he's not interested in honors. He seeks maximum return on investment.
In other words Yale University probably prostituted itself for Arab oil money (my term). Censoring the controversial cartoons, in a book about the cartoons, was a small tradeoff for hopefully a greater return from Alwaleed in the future. Debasing itself further, to increase its chances of snagging some huge grant to fund some prestigious institute Yale oh so coincidentally just hired the executive director of the Alwaleed bin Talal Foundation, Muna AbuSulayman.
Now it gets interesting. In April, Yale named Muna AbuSulayman a "Yale World Fellow" for 2009.
This isn't some honorific, and she'll reside from August through December in New Haven. (Her Facebook fan page, August 16: "I need help locating a Town House/condo for short term leasing near Yale University... Anyone familiar with that area?")
Can you imagine a better way to set the stage for a major Alwaleed gift? Hosting for a semester the very person who structured the Harvard and Georgetown gifts, and who now directs Alwaleed's charitable foundation? A stroke of genius.
Yale has seen its endowment suffer billions in losses, and its administration has the mission of making the bucks back. Yale's motto is lux et veritas, light and truth, but these days it might as well be pecunia non olet: money has no odor -whatever its source.
So in the world of higher education, if Kramer is correct, the potential of a gift of untold millions is worth the price of a few censored cartoons. Not to mention integrity, scholarship and all that other good stuff Yale claims to teach.