Friday, September 17, 2010
ABF Friday: Crazy Ol’ Marty Peretz edition!
This is a tough one*, folks. How precisely should Harvard University honor Marty “Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims” Peretz next week?
Keep in mind that this is not a question about how Peretz should defend himself. As Peretz told Benjamin Sarlin, “The notion that after teaching 45 years at Harvard and people giving money in my honor that I have to defend myself—please.” Nor is it a question about whether Harvard should decline the fellowship money or rename the fellowship or cancel the day-long event on September 25. Because that would be ridiculous and absurd.
Instead, I think Harvard should ask Peretz to specify precisely how cheap Muslim life is (to other Muslims, of course! We don’t want to give anyone the impression that Peretz himself believes such a thing, just because he calls it “a statement of fact, not value"). I mean, any old racist crank can talk about the cheapness of Muslim life. But someone worthy of an honor at Harvard should be able to name a figure.
* Yes, yes, I know, “ABF Fridays” began (back in aught-five, when this blog was insouciant and full of joie de vivre) as arbitrary but fun value judgments, and here we’re dealing with how Harvard should handle a statement of fact, not value. So feel free to deconstruct the fact/value distinction in comments! Be arbitrary—but fun!
Update: Peretz apologizes on the eve of Yom Kippur. Good on him for that.