March 4 2011
LSE Official On Taking $$$ From Gaddafi Family: My Bad
Julie had a terrific post the other day on America's morally bankrupt pop stars: it was about stars such as Beyonce, Mariah Carey and Usher who had made $$$$ performing for the family of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. But pop stars weren't the only ones who danced to the dictator's tune.
Here's a headline from the U. K. Telegraph that jumped out at me this morning:
LSE Director Resigns over University's Gaddafi Links
That would be the director of the fabled London School of Economics, one of the world's most influential institutions. The links were financial:
Sir Howard Davies said he recognised that LSE's reputation had "suffered" after accepting a £1.5million donation from Saif al-Islam, Col Gaddafi's son.
He said the decision to accept the grant had "backfired" and expressed regret that he had visited Libya to advise the regime. He said it was "a personal error of judgment".
Saif al-Islam has been on TV a lot in recent days, dapper in military get-up and always delivering the message that all is well in his dad's embattled regime. Interestingly, LSE wasn't the only university in England that benefitted from donations from questionable Islamic sources. According to an earlier story in the Telegraph, such donations appeared to be philanthropic. But their real intention was to change "intellectual climate of the United Kingdom."
Between 1995 and 2008, eight universities - Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, University College London, the LSE, Exeter, Dundee and City - accepted more than £233.5 million from Muslim rulers and those closely connected to them.
Much of the money has gone to Islamic study centres: the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies received £75 million from a dozen Middle Eastern rulers, including the late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia; one of the current king's nephews, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, gave £8 million each to Cambridge and Edinburgh. Then there was the LSE's own Centre for Middle Eastern Studies, which got £9 million from the United Arab Emirates; this week, a majority of the centre's board was revealed to be pushing for a boycott of Israel.
It appears to have been money well spent:
A study of five years of politics lectures at the Middle Eastern Centre at St Antony's College, Oxford, found that 70 per cent were "implacably hostile" to the West and Israel. A friend of mine, a former Oxford academic, felt that his time was largely spent battling a cadre of academics overwhelmingly hostile to the West, in an ambience in which students - from both Britain and abroad - were presented a world-view that was almost exclusively anti-Western.
Although much of the money is claimed to be directed towards apolitical ends, this can often be misleading. The gift by foreign governments of language books, for instance, can have a significant effect on what is taught; in one case, the gift of an art gallery was found to have had a direct impact on teaching and admissions policy.
As for Sir Howard back at LSE, apparently he only just learned that Mr. Gaddafi Sr. is a somewhat unsavory benefactor, perhaps putting Sir Howard on the same intellectual level as Mariah Carey:
But [Davies] defended the LSE's links to Gaddafi's Libya, saying: "There were no sanctions on dealing with the Libyan regime."
Talk about benighted. Unfortunately, Sir Howard appears also to have been knighted.