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Tue Dec 23, 2014, 05:56 PM


Revered Harvard Psychologist Blasts Campus Capitulation on SodaStream [View all]

One of Harvard University’s most renowned professors, psychology theorist and philosopher Steven Pinker, has written a harsh letter to the university’s president and provost protesting a decision by Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) to ban the use of SodaStream water systems. SodaStream, an Israeli company, became the target last year of intense boycott efforts despite the fact that it employed hundreds of Palestinian workers in its Maaleh Adumim factory under conditions identical to those enjoyed by their Israeli counterparts.

Last week HUDS made the decision to stop using water dispensers made by a company recently purchased by SodaStream, on the grounds that the mere presence of the dispensers, according to one of the boycott’s supporters, “can be seen as a microaggression to Palestinian students and their families and like the University doesn’t care about Palestinian human rights.”

In response to the move, the university’s president, Drew Faust, reportedly opened an investigation.

In his letter (PDF) Pinker assailed the capitulation to pressure in a way that contradicts the central mission of Harvard University. The letter, which was quoted at length at Powerlineblog and can be read in full here, spelled his objections out as follows

Equally foreign to the mission of a university is the idea that students are to be protected from “discomfort” or so-called “microaggression” when they are exposed to beliefs that differ from theirs, or when the university does not accede to demands that it prosecute their moral and political crusades. Discomfort is another word for tolerance. It is the price we pay for living in a democracy and participating in the open exchange of ideas.

Middle East politics above all is a subject on which thoughtful people disagree; it is certainly not one on which a university should decree the correct position. While I am sympathetic with many of the students’ objections to the current policies of the Israeli government, I object even more strongly to the policies of the governments of countries such as Russia, India, Pakistan, China, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. In a world filled with governments with deplorable policies, it is pernicious for a university to single out one of them for opprobrium.


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Reply Revered Harvard Psychologist Blasts Campus Capitulation on SodaStream [View all]
Just for Fun Dec 2014 OP
azurnoir Dec 2014 #1
hack89 Dec 2014 #2
oberliner Dec 2014 #3