John Fund at OpinionJournal who has had first hand experience with Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, former ambassador-at-large for the Taliban, is flabbergasted.
Something is very wrong at our elite universities. Last week Larry Summers resigned as president of Harvard when it became clear he would lose a no-confidence vote held by politically correct faculty members furious at his efforts to allow ROTC on campus, his opposition to a drive to have Harvard divest itself of corporate investments in Israel, and his efforts to make professors work harder. Now Yale is giving a first-class education to an erstwhile high official in one of the most evil regimes of the latter half of the 20th century--the government that harbored the terrorists who attacked America on Sept. 11, 2001.
[The original NY Times article, in yesterday's NYT magazine is here. 12 pages]
Apparently Yale considered landing Hashemi quite a coup.
The Times reported that Yale "had another foreigner of Rahmatullah's caliber apply for special-student status." Richard Shaw, Yale's dean of undergraduate admissions, told the Times that "we lost him to Harvard," and "I didn't want that to happen again."
Hashemi was the foreign face of the Taliban as the world erupted in outrage over the planned destruction of priceless 3rd and 5th century Buddha statues that offended the mullahs.
He wore a traditional Afghan turban and white baggy pants and sported a full beard. His English, while sometimes elliptical, was smooth and colloquial. He made himself very clear when he said the West had no business worrying about the statues, because it had cut off trade and foreign aid to the Taliban. "When the world destroys the future of our children with economic sanctions, they have no right to worry about our past," he told us, according to my notes from the meeting.
As for Osama bin Laden, Mr. Rahmatullah called the Saudi fugitive a "guest" of his government and said it hadn't been proved that bin Laden was linked to any terrorist acts, despite his indictment in the U.S. for planning the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He said that if the embassy bombings were terrorist acts, then so was the Clinton administration's firing cruise missiles into his country in an attempt to kill bin Laden. "You killed 19 innocent people," he told us.
From newspaper clips I knew that his visit to the Journal's offices was part of a PR tour. He visited other newspapers and spoke at universities, and the State Department had granted him a meeting with midlevel officials. None of the meetings went particularly well. At the University of Southern California, Mr. Rahmatullah expressed irritation with a question about statues that at that point hadn't yet been blown up. "You know, really, I am asked so much about these statues that I have a headache now," he moaned. "If I go back to Afghanistan, I will blow them."
But sometimes his humor really backfired. At a speech for the Atlantic Council, Mr. Rahmatullah was confronted by a woman in the audience who lifted the burkha she was wearing and chastised him for the Taliban's infamous treatment of women. "You have imprisoned the women--it's a horror, let me tell you," she cried. Mr. Rahmatullah responded with a sneer: "I'm really sorry to your husband. He might have a very difficult time with you."
A videotape of his cutting remark became part of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," and infuriated the likes of Mavis Leno, wife of "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno. Mrs. Leno helped found the Feminist Majority's Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan and devoted countless hours to focusing public attention on the plight of Afghanistan's women and girls.
There seems to be no limits to our folly. What's next? Will Brown invite Robert Mugabe to lecture on post-colonial African governance?