Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Banning the Archbishop

St. Thomas University, a Catholic university based in St. Paul, Minn., has banned Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu from speaking on a campus event organized by PeaceJam, as reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The group has since found another university that will host the event.

Officials said St. Thomas is being more careful about appearances since Ann Coulter came to their campus in 2005. That's right. They're responding to a controversial speaking event that featured Ann Coulter by banning Desmond Tutu. Sounds like their either overcompensating or they're practicing good old bias against the left at a conservative Catholic university.

The Strib reported that university officials said "that local Jewish leaders they consulted felt that Tutu had made remarks offensive to the Jewish people in a 2002 speech about Israeli policy toward the Palestinians." I saw Archbishop Tutu when he spoke on the University of Minnesota campus in 2003. He then compared the situation of Palestinians to apartheid in South Africa. Perhaps not such an inaccurate comparison, since Palestinians are more or less held hostage within a state where they have no legal status.

Arguments about Israel aside, it seems silly to go around banning peaceful figures because they're too controversial. The whole point of events like bringing controversial speakers in is to foster discussion and open up students minds to encountering something outside a narrow tunnel vision. I have to say I'm with the protesters who hold up a large banner that said, "Let Tutu speak!"

Cross-posted on

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