Update, 11:12 p.m. Tuesday | The alumni — 25 in total — have officially submitted their letter to the Yale Alumni Magazine. Click here to read it.
Update, 2:27 p.m. | Michael Steinberg ’74, a Washington lawyer who penned the alums’ letter, notes that the text below — which was obtained independently by the News — was an early draft of the letter and does not include many of its current signatories. The letter has since been revised, he said.
As the News’ Paul Needham and Esther Zuckerman report today, a group of prominent conservative alumni — including John Bolton ’70 LAW ’74, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations — is criticizing Yale’s decision to remove caricatures of Muhammad from an upcoming book about the 2005 Danish cartoon controversy.
The alums, who call themselves the Yale Committee for a Free Press, is currently circulating a letter to the editor of the Yale Alumni Magazine that renounces the “shameful censorship.” Read the letter after the jump.
To the Editor:
Yale University Press, owned and operated by the University, has retreated into shameful censorship. The Press accepted for publication “The Cartoons That Shook the World,” by Brandeis Professor Jytte Klausen. But it deleted from her manuscript the actual cartoons. Why? Because the cartoons — which ran in newspapers and are available on the Internet — might lead to more violence.
The Press went even further, stripping out all depictions of Muhammed, such as a 19th Century painting by Gustave Dore. Why? Because Islamic law forbids depictions of Muhammed, and — there might be violence. Evidently Yale now excises from its books any content that might encourage someone to violence. And we all know what kind of “someone” the Press has in mind.
Yale’s shocking surrender to unknown potential belligerents drew scorn from the American Association of University Professors. Yale’s new policy, according to AAUP president Cary Nelson, is: “We do not negotiate with terrorists. We just accede to their anticipated demands.”
This disgraceful resort to censorship also violates Yale’s own explicit policy: “Above all, every member of the university has an obligation to permit free expression in the university. No member has a right to prevent such expression. Every official of the university, moreover, has a special obligation to foster free expression and to ensure that it is not obstructed.”
All Yale alumni have a vital stake in preserving a free press at Yale. We urge President Levin and the Corporation to immediately nullify the Press’s cowardly action. Yale should print Klausen’s book with all the censored material restored and distribute it to university bookstores around the world as a tangible reminder that a free press can never be taken for granted.
Yale Committee for a Free Press
Michael W. Steinberg ’74
Seth Corey ’78
David Frum ’82 BA & MA
John R. Bolton ’70 & ’74JD
Richard Brookhiser ’77