Gutless and Irrelevant

Saint Thomas University continues its tradition of gutless disengagement.

The Saint Paul-based Catholic university has disinvited Bishop Desmond Tutu, one of the anti-apartheid movement’s household names, because of remarks he’s made that might be “hurtful” to Jews.

Doug Hennes, vice president for university and government relations at St. Thomas, said the Rev. Dennis Dease, St. Thomas’ president, made the final decision not to invite Tutu after consulting with his staff.

“He [Tutu] has been critical of Israel and Israeli policy regarding the Palestinians, so we talked with people in the Jewish community and they said they believed it would be hurtful to the Jewish community, because of things he’s said,” Hennes said.

A leader of the international group that was to sponsor Tutu’s visit blasted the university’s decision.

“This is a tragedy for the entire community of Minneapolis-St. Paul and indeed for the entire state of Minnesota,” said Ivan Suvanjieff, president and co-founder of PeaceJam, based in Colorado. “Archbishop Desmond Tutu is a towering moral arbiter of our day. He has worked tirelessly on a global basis in the name of human rights and all that is decent.”

PeaceJam has 10 affiliates across the United States and often invites Nobel laureates to meet with young people for a weekend of discussion.

We’ll come back to “PeaceJam” in a minute.
I don’t doubt for a moment that Tutu made the comments – comparing Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to Hitler’s Holocaust.   And since Saint Thomas is a private institution, they can make or rescind any invitation they want to.

But mightn’t it have been better for everyone had Saint Thomas kept the invitation, and the Jewish groups swarmed the campus with protesters, to ensure that everyone knew Tutu’s past sentiments?  Or – perhaps – to get Tutu to admit he was wrong?
This continues the Saint Thomas tradition of gutless disengagement and blowing with the prevailing PC winds.  The college’s president, Father Dennis “Havana Denny” Dease, got the epic vapors over Ann Coulter’s appearance at St. Thomas, and reacted like a banana republic dictator when a Cuban baseball player, Mario Chaoui, in town to play St. Thomas’ team, defected at the Twin Cities Airport.  Dease barred St. Thomas students from helping Chaoui, committing the University to finding and returning the player to Cuba and certain persecution (which Chaoui thankfully evaded).

Saint Thomas:  A feather before the moral wind.

4 thoughts on “Gutless and Irrelevant

  1. How odd. If it was Berkeley, anti-jewish comments would be a feature, not a bug. I can understand why they would cancel though. If he did speak there, he would probably have to face a few politely worded questions from well dressed representatives from the Jewish community and we can’t have that. Anarchy would follow.
    Tutu has made a number of silly statements in the past, but on balance, I think he has something educational to say. No one has the right to go thru life without hearing something “hurtful”. This just seems weird.

  2. Color me mixed, as in feelings. Given the Catholic church’s history with my people — and I’m not just talking about the blood libel saints, the Inquisition, the Concordat, or the Nazi “rat line,” although that’ll do for a start — institutionally it damn well should be bending over backwards to avoid offending us until it hears its collective spine crack.

    On the other hand, a better way to do it would have been to — openly, and without apology — invite Tutu here to discuss his moral amblyopia.

  3. I think Columbia University’s president showed that bringing in speakers with despicable opinions can be both educational and entertaining.

    I would have rather seen them bring him on campus, then ask him some uncomfortable questions. It’s the American way.

  4. Pingback: Shot in the Dark » Blog Archive » No Equivalent

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