Tags: War | Criminal's | Friend | Academia

A War Criminal's Friend in Academia

Wednesday, 04 June 2003 12:00 AM

A Ph.D. doesn’t guarantee a conscience.

In “The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics,” University of Chicago professor Mark Lilla examines the defense of totalitarianism by what he calls “the philotyrannical intellectual.” One of his subjects is the French philosopher Michel Foucault (1926-1984), who taught at the Collège de France and the University of California at Berkeley.

Foucault was a member of the Communist Party from 1950 to 1953 and later associated with Maoist groups. In September 1978, he went to Iran to report on the uprising against Shah Reza Pahlavi.

Foucault defended the Shah’s theocratic opponents as part of a new “political spirituality.” Biographer James Miller notes in “The Passion of Michel Foucault” that “his prose reached a new pitch of chiliastic fervor” after he returned to Iran in November.

Foucault did not criticize subsequent Islamic totalitarianism under the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. “Unrepentant, he stood by his enthusiasm for the revolution in Iran – and justified it in no uncertain terms,” Miller writes.

But one need not look abroad to find philotyrannical intellectuals. Last fall, Fidel Castro’s senior henchman, Victor Dreke, toured American colleges, including Florida International University and Clark Atlanta University. During the 1960s Dreke was second in command of the “Fight Against Bandits,” Castro’s campaign to destroy the guerrilla resistance to his totalitarianism composed largely of small farmers.

Dreke has asserted: “We crushed the bandits. No doubt about it.” What did this entail?

Historian Enrique Encinosa, author of “Cuba at War: History of the Anti-Castro Opposition, 1959-1993,” observes:

How did this war criminal become a speaker on American campuses? Thank in large part Piero Gleijeses.

Gleijeses is a professor at Johns Hopkins University and chair of the Africa-Cuba Speakers Committee that hosted Dreke. He has met with Dreke in Cuba and lauds him in “Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976.”

Gleijeses glamorously describes Dreke as “commander of a unit of the elite antiguerrilla force” and writes that “it is difficult not to be impressed by the charisma, integrity, and intelligence of this taciturn man.” He responded, when asked about Dreke’s atrocities, “I am not aware of any atrocity committed by Dreke.”

Gleijeses did not respond to offers to communicate with Dreke’s victims. “I have a very high regard for Victor Dreke and am proud of the role I played in making it possible for American students to hear what he had to say,” he stressed.

As for his view of the Castro regime, Gleijeses has remarked, “I'm not a Marxist-Leninist, but I am, overall, sympathetic to the Cuban revolution.” This is morally comparable to saying, “I’m not a fascist, but I am, overall, sympathetic to Nazi Germany.”

Gleijeses did not respond to whether his view of the Castro regime has been affected by the imprisonment of 80 human rights activists in April to sentences averaging 20 years.

No surprise, Gleijeses has lectured in Cuba (where academic freedom does not exist) and was featured in Castro’s mockery of a newspaper, Granma International. He said in Havana in February, “I teach in the United States and write for a hostile public –and I should add that some people are very ignorant, too – who are prejudiced against Cuba.”

An apologist for a war criminal ignores his victims and talks about Americans being ignorant? As Joseph McCarthy was once asked: Have you no sense of decency, sir?

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A Ph.D. doesn't guarantee a conscience. In "The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics," University of Chicago professor Mark Lilla examines the defense of totalitarianism by what he calls "the philotyrannical intellectual."One of his subjects is the French philosopher...
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