September 23, 2007

Hoover and Rumsfeld

According to a New York Times story, the recent Hoover Institute appointment of Donald Rumsfeld has brought a petition:

We, the undersigned members of the Stanford community, strongly object to the appointment of Donald Rumsfeld as a "distinguished visiting fellow" at Stanford's Hoover Institution. We view the appointment as fundamentally incompatible with the ethical values of truthfulness, tolerance, disinterested enquiry, respect for national and international laws, and care for the opinions, property and lives of others to which Stanford is inalienably committed.

Right now, there are a handful more than 3,000 signatures. I understand the disgust with which Stanford faculty view the idea that Rumsfeld would be accorded any respect, but I think they've dealt inappropriately with the Hoover-Stanford relationship, which has always been tenuous, in addition to the fact that the idea of un-hiring someone post hoc is inappropriate in most cases. In protesting the appointment as if it really were a Stanford matter, they are giving more recognition to the Hoover-Stanford tie than they should.  If I were at Stanford, I'd have written it differently:

When we heard of Donald Rumsfeld's appointment as a "distinguished visiting fellow" at the Hoover Institution, we immediately recognized the appointment as fundamentally incompatible with the ethical values of truthfulness, tolerance, disinterested enquiry, respect for national and international laws, and care for the opinions, property and lives of others to which Stanford is inalienably committed. On the other hand, as members of Stanford faculty, we prize due process and would generally disapprove of other groups who call for someone's un-hiring from such an appointment.

Moreover, there may be some value in inviting the arrogant architect of the Iraq war to a campus organization that is only tenuously tied to our teaching mission. We salute the Hoover Institute's director for transparency in making an appointment that mirrors his values, if not Stanford's.

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Posted in Higher education on September 23, 2007 12:30 PM |