Student’s past should be regarded cautiously

To the Editor:

I was extremely disappointed to read Bess Hinson’s editorial (“Hashemi’s experience is asset to University,” 3/2). Hinson says Rahmatullah Hashemi ’09 had no choice in joining the Taliban. Didn’t he have a choice in becoming one of its chief spokesmen? Hinson says his mentor “was the most moderate amongst the Taliban leadership.” She argues Hashemi’s admission “was a necessary step that should serve as a model for American higher education.” The proper message, according to Hinson, is, “If you are a chief spokesman for a brutal, vile regime, not only will you be let off the hook once you’ve helped justify the enslavement of your country, but you will be invited to learn at one of the most prestigious universities in the world!” What a bizarre way to gain admission.

Hinson and others have forgotten that Yale is not simply an educational institution, divorced from moral responsibility to its students or the world. We have many things to learn from Hashemi, as he has things to learn from us. Yale can enable that sort of an exchange, but hopefully not by forgetting the true nature of the Taliban or excusing its supporters.

Jake Velker ’07

March 2, 2006

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