Columnist’s Sept. 11 reference evoked deep-seated emotions

To the Editor:

With a tone of hurt sincerity, Wall Street Journal OpinionJournal.com columnist John Fund defends himself against Roger Low’s accusation of lying in a column about the Yale Political Union’s refusal to include the Rahmatullah Hashemi issue in the debate topic (“University must address Hashemi issue head-on,” 3/31). I have two things to say about this.

It’s not for me to state the facts about the exchanges that went on between Fund and the YPU, and clearly not up to me to judge the accusation. However, what I do know seems to be on Low’s side, and the incident involving Low is both the incident on which Fund has dwelled in his columns and one that demonstrates a complete incongruity of the two issues. On-campus military recruitment has absolutely nothing to do with Hashemi, and there is no way to reasonably include both in a single debate. Whether Fund understands this or not is beyond me, but I take the YPU to be informed and intelligent enough to know that these matters do not belong together.

More importantly, Fund defends himself from Low’s actual point without taking any real heed of it. Low criticizes Fund, among many others, for essentially appealing to strong, irrational emotional responses rather than real reasons, and Fund makes no exception in this column. The most glaring example of this is right after Fund describes Hashemi as “evil” (a term in whose usage I see a shortsightedness I have little but scorn for), starting the next paragraph in the following way:

“I next thought about Hashemi on Sept. 11 of that year, as I stood outside our building covered in dust and debris staring at the remains of the towers that had collapsed with 3,000 Americans inside.”

This is a statement of such emotional power that I cringe at criticizing it, which is something I suspect Fund understands well. He used this same statement before, almost verbatim, in a column for OpinionJournal.com on February 27 entitled “Jihadi turns Bulldog,” where he also mentioned that Hashemi had looked up meaningfully to the Twin Towers on the occasion of their first meeting. I come short of finding any true significance to this where it would be important enough to include in a column. The first time he did, he added, in the last paragraph, that he was convinced Hashemi had nothing to do with the Sept. 11 attacks. I ask myself, then, why mention it at all? The only answer I can come up with is that a gratuitous mention of Sept. 11 can go a long way. After all, what can possibly compete with the power of the passion that incident incites in us?

Not reason, Fund would hope. I am filled with the irony that this is precisely the essence of Low’s criticism. It disappoints me that Fund spoils a column that might have the rudiments of intelligent criticism (his own, I mean) with such contemptible tactics and turn it into a manipulative piece of rhetoric.



Caio Camargo ’09

April 2, 2006

The writer is a staff photographer for the News.

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