Potential students of the London School of Economics ought perhaps to rethink their choice of university, particularly if they plan to study international relations. After all, Muammar Qaddafi had to kill thousands of his own people before the LSE’s distinguished academics realized he might be something of a dictator.
However, if your plan is to study how to be a hypocritical, corrupt bastard, then the LSE is for you. There’s money in it, you see.
The LSE, which claims to educate many of tomorrow’s leaders, agreed to take $2.4 million from Qaddafi’s son, Seif el-Islam. For its Global Governance program, of all things. By the time the current murderous civil war engulfed Libya, the LSE had received 300,000 pounds. It now says it’ll divert that donation, presumably to a charity.
Meanwhile, Seif el-Islam Qaddafi received a PhD from the LSE. An inquest may be undertaken, it seems, into accusations of plagiarism by “Dr. Qaddafi.”
I’d have little to say about all this if the LSE had come out and said, “Look, we’ve had government cutbacks. We needed the money. We decided, let’s sell a doctorate to the son of the Libyan flake and use the cash for educating others who’ll go on to great careers like other LSE alumni such as Mick Jagger and Sir Veeraswamy Ringadoo, the first president of Mauritius.”
Like Tennesse Williams, I try to look mildly on the peccadilloes of human beings. And like Ernest Hemingway I believe one should take the money and run.
Hypocrisy and self-righteousness, however, disturb my calm, to put it mildly. Particularly when it’s the hypocrisy and self-righteousness of well-heeled academics who think they can get away with allowing someone else to get away with murder so long as nobody notices.
The university’s head, Sir Howard Davies, told the BBC that “we took a risk and I think it’s right to say that that risk has backfired on us.”
The risk was not that the university would be besmirched by accepting money from a cruel, repressive regime. A regime which has backed terrorism. A regime which has assassinated political leaders elsewhere in the Arab world.
The risk was that the university would be shown up. That Seif al-Islam, who had been ludicrously held up by much of the Western media as a modernizer and democratizer, would be caught on video (as he has been) calling for people who oppose his dad to be shot.
The hypocrisy doesn’t stop at the LSE, of course. Last year the UN General Assembly elected Libya onto the UN Human Rights Council. I’m sure all those people suffering at the hands of torturers around the world will have been glad that there’s someone watching over them who understands their pain. Because he knows how to dish it out.
It’s all typical of the hypocrisy of the West in dealing with the Arab world. I wrote about this in my novel THE FOURTH ASSASSIN, in which my Palestinian sleuth Omar Yussef criticizes the willingness of the West to back odious regimes so long as the oil cash is forthcoming. After all, the last UK government couldn’t wait to sweep the bombing of the Pan Am jet over Lockerbie under the carpet, lured by the promise of big-money contracts from Qaddafi.
One of the professors who passed Seif al-Islam’s doctoral dissertation, Lord Meghnad Desai, told a British newspaper that the dictator’s son had his first thesis tossed back at him because “it was full of warm milk. Far too idealistic.” Truly idealism has no place at the LSE. Desai, who used to be chairman of the British Labor Party, claims that “we gave him a very rough ride.” I’ll bet.
It’s a shame the LSE doesn’t have a literature department, because one of its professors might have been able to tell Lord Desai that Shakespeare called hypocrisy a “glib and oily art.” But, then, even if he isn’t familiar with “King Lear,” Desai appears to know that already. www.mattrees.net