There must be something about the air in Massachusetts these days. They’ve just gone and elected a Republican Senator in a State where a donkey could get elected if it wore the Democratic colours (some say it has already!). Now it’s flagship University, Harvard, seems intent on defending a foreign affairs policy wonk, Martin Kramer, who’s long established a reputation as a hard-line Zionist.
Harvard is, of course, the almer mata of another serial racist and by all accounts wife batterer, one Professor Alan Dershowitz whose book The Case for Israel plagiarised a book, Joan Peter’s From Time Immemorial, that was itself guilty of plagiarism and large-scale falsehoods.
Kramer however, who was been involved in the McCarthyite Campus Watch (like the Nazis, he doesn’t like dissident academics who speak out on Palestine) went one further at a conference in Herzliya recently, where he applauded the starvation siege of Gaza on account of the fact that it would reduce the birthrate and population of Gaza.
Such views are eugenicist. They are also the basis of Nazi race ‘science’. Selective breeding or birth control to eliminate the poor and feckless was the life blood of the American Eugenicist movement in the early part of the 20th Century. Some 66,000 forcible sterilisations were carried out in the United States between 1908 and the 1960’s.
One-third of these forcible sterilisations were carried out in California alone. Famous Supreme Court Judge Oliver Wendell Holme lent his support to the movement declaring in 1927 that :
‘It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes... Holmes concluded his argument with the infamous phrase "Three generations of imbeciles are enough"
Martin Kramer comes in a long-line of Eugenicists and it is therefore no surprise that he turns his attentions to the Palestinians. Every racist crank and cookie these days signs up to Zionism’s anti-Islamic racism and its hatred of the Palestinians. Policies to stop Palestinians breed are but a logical extension of the need for a racially pure Jewish state.
The Weatherhead Centre describes itself as ‘the largest international research center within Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences.’
Published: Thursday, March 11, 2010
We address this op-ed to Beth Simmons (Director, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs), Jeffry Frieden and James Robinson (Acting Directors, WCIA), and Drew Faust (President, Harvard University).
We write as gravely concerned students and student group leaders representing over 16 groups throughout Harvard University. Our entire constituency can be viewed online.
We are disturbed by the racist and inhumane comments of Martin Kramer, Visiting Scholar at the National Security Studies Program at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. We have become even more alarmed that rather than taking a dissociating or even strictly neutral stance against such extremist and hateful statements, the Weatherhead Center issued a defensive response.
At the Herzliya Conference in Israel last month, Mr. Kramer, who in his own words provides advice on “U.S. policy options in the Middle East,” advocated measures to diminish Palestinian birth rates as a means of population control. Mr. Kramer stated that Israel’s siege on Gaza, which prohibits the entry of crucial humanitarian supplies, helps “break Gaza’s runaway population growth and there is some evidence that they have.” He suggests that this phenomenon “may begin to crack the culture of martyrdom, which demands a constant supply of superfluous young men.” Mr. Kramer’s public call to halt food, medicine, and humanitarian aid—which he calls “pro-natal subsidies”—would read as a cruel joke if it did not so egregiously violate the most basic norms of human decency. Such statements have been echoed by people in power and have even been directed at Israel’s Palestinian citizens: At the same conference in 2003, Israel’s current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Palestinian citizens of Israel a “demographic threat.”
Harvard professor Stephen M. Walt commented, “What if a prominent academic at Harvard declared that the United States had to make food scarcer for Hispanics so that they would have fewer children? Or what if someone at a prominent think tank noted that black Americans have higher crime rates than some other groups, and therefore it made good sense to put an end to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and other welfare programs, because that would discourage African Americans from reproducing and thus constitute an effective anti-crime program?”
Had Mr. Kramer’s comments been directed at any other marginalized or minority groups—leaving aside the enormous challenge faced by Palestinians living in the impoverished enclosure of Gaza—we believe that the Weatherhead Center would not have hesitated to classify them as racist and hateful. It has described Mr. Kramer’s proclamations as “controversial,” an alarming position since less than a century ago similar remarks were made against African Americans and Jews. The characterization of his statements as merely “controversial” is offensive and dismisses their deeply racist nature.
Since the Weatherhead Center provides Mr. Kramer with a legitimizing and prominent public platform, we wonder whether it views any policy call as ethically disgraceful. We are troubled that the center has presented little to no diversity of viewpoints on the Israel-Palestine conflict. The only notable statements on the conflict emerging from the center are Mr. Kramer’s.
However, we believe that the Weatherhead Center has an opportunity to rectify the damage caused by Mr. Kramer’s repugnant statements and redeem its esteem with the student body. First, we ask that the Weatherhead Center not renew Mr. Kramer’s fellowship or affiliation with the NSSP. Second, we call on the center to establish a committee of faculty and students to recommend the adoption of a set of vetting practices for incoming fellows that uphold a set of principles unified on non-racism, in concert with Harvard University’s own commitment to non-discriminatory practices and diversity of viewpoints. We are concerned that the defense of Mr. Kramer’s statement reflects a violation of basic principles to which the Weatherhead Center and Harvard University claim to adhere. The above measures are an effective way for the center and the University to make amends.
Johnny F. Bowman ’11 is president of the Undergraduate Council and a sociology concentrator in Pforzheimer House. Maryam Monalisa Gharavi is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature and co-founder of GSAS Capoeira Angola. Abdelnasser A. Rashid ’11 is president of the Harvard Islamic Society, board member of the Palestine Solidarity Committee, and a social studies concentrator in Dunster House.