To the Editors:
The following letter, signed by thirty scholars, writers, scientists, and artists currently in residence at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, appeared as a full-page advertisement in the commencement edition of The Harvard Crimson on the day of Harvard’s 356th commencement, June 7, 2007. The signers, from various international backgrounds, include one from Uzbekistan, the attorney and human rights activist Nozima Kamalova, who is already at risk of persecution in her native land, where the global reach of the United States’ “War on Terror” has been used to justify the antidemocratic abuses of power of the current regime. Despite repeated warnings that signing a simple letter of protest could put her at even greater risk, Dr. Kamalova insisted on publishing her name alongside those of the other fellows.
William S. McFeely
Constance E. Smith Fellow
Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
We, a group of scholars, writers, scientists, and artists, drawn from many nations and spanning several generations, who have had the privilege of working together for this academic year, call on our fellow members of the Harvard community, in particular the 2007 graduates, to take with them into the wider community the urgency of protest. It is not enough for us to be vaguely opposed to injustice. We must in some direct fashion say no to the violation of the basic principles of this country, and indeed of international law, by such atrocities as those inflicted on fellow human beings at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo. It is a violation of the highest values this nation has stood for to condone the use of torture or to deny the writ of habeas corpus to those held in the name of the American people. The war that is said to justify these injustices must end.
We could well be guided by the words of Frederick Douglass, who, facing an earlier specific injustice, slavery, said, simply, but with telling effect, “Agitate, agitate.”
Let us not be silent.
C. Edwin Baker, University of Pennsylvania; Elizabeth Bradley, University of Colorado; Bruce Carruthers, Northwestern University; John Demos, Yale University; John Diamond, Harvard University; Brigid Doherty, Princeton University; Marwa Elshakry, Harvard University; Wendy Espeland, Northwestern University; Cassandra Fraser, University of Virginia; Rebecca Goldstein, independent scholar; Major Jackson, University of Vermont; Nozima Kamalova, Legal Aid Society of Uzbekistan; Jane Kamensky, Brandeis University; Ranjana Khanna, Duke University; Emilio Kouri, University of Chicago; Michèle Lamont, Harvard University; Suzanne Lebsock, Rutgers University; William S. McFeely, University of Georgia; David Mindell, University of Michigan; Peggy Miller, University of Illinois; Meenakshi Narain, Brown University; Megan Núñez, Mount Holyoke College; Tayhas Palmore, Brown University; Leah Price, Harvard University; Nancy Scheper-Hughes, University of California, Berkeley; Stuart Shieber, Harvard University; Antonia Szabari, University of Southern California; Marie-France Vigneras, Université de Paris 7, Denis Diderot; Clea T. Waite, independent artist; Anthony Zee, University of California, Santa Barbara.
August 16, 2007