Radhika Jain and Kevin J. Wu (CRIMSON STAFF WRITERS,  December 07, 2011, Supplied by Sukla Sen)



A  vote for the approval of the 2012 Summer School course catalog, which faculty acknowledged would normally take no more than one minute, generated a heated debate when Comparative Religion Professor Diana L. Eck proposed an amendment to exclude Swamy’s Economics S-110 and Economics S-1316 from the catalog.


Swamy received significant criticism for an op-ed he wrote last summer in the Indian newspaper Daily News and Analysis, in which he called for the destruction of mosques, the disenfrachisement of non-Hindus in India who do not acknowledge Hindu ancestry, and a ban on conversion from Hinduism.


“Swamy’s op-ed clearly crosses the line by demonizing an entire religious community and calling for violence against their sacred places,” Eck said, adding that Harvard has a moral responsibility not to affiliate itself with anyone who expresses hatred towards a minority group. “There is a distinction between unpopular and unwelcome political views.”


Although Harvard chose to stand by Swamy in August in an effort to affirm its declared commitment to free speech, faculty members shot down his two courses, effectively removing him from Harvard’s teaching roster. Many faculty determined Swamy’s article was not a product of free speech—but of hate speech.


“[Swamy’s position on disenfranchisement] is like saying Jewish Americans and African Americans should not be allowed to vote unless they acknowledge the supremacy of white Anglo Saxon Protestants,” said History Professor Sugata Bose.


Dean of the Summer School Donald H. Pfister explained that courses included in the catalog are chosen by individual departments.


“I find [Swamy’s] position reprehensible, but on the other hand, it is our duty to support departments and their offerings,” he said.


Philosophy Department Chair Sean D. Kelly, who also serves as vice-chair of the Faculty Docket Committee, initially defended the unanimous decision of Harvard’s Faculty Council to keep Swamy on the  teaching roster as an effort to preserve free speech at the school and kick the vote to the faculty-wide meeting.


Kelly ultimately voted—as did an overwhelming majority of faculty members—for the amendment to remove Swamy’s courses. The revised catalog was consequently approved.


“I was persuaded … that the views expressed in Dr. Swamy’s op-ed piece amounted to incitement of violence instead of protected political speech,” he wrote in an email to The Crimson.

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