The leftist-indoctrination centers that many of America’s college campuses have become added another despicable blot to their legacies yesterday. New York University (NYU) announced that blind, Chinese political dissident Chen Guangcheng has been tossed off campus. According to the NY Post, the Communist government of China is applying the pressure, using NYU’s expansion of its campus to a facility in Shanghai as leverage. Chen’s presence at NYU has apparently rankled Chinese bureaucrats who signed off on the expansion permits. “NYU isn’t letting a pesky thing like human rights stand in the way of its expansion in China,” reports the Post.
“The big problem is that NYU is very compromised by the fact they are working very closely with the Chinese to establish a university,” said one New York-based professor familiar with Chen’s situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity “That’s their liability,” the source added. “Otherwise, they would be much less constrained on issues like freedom of speech.”
University officials are denying the charge, claiming Chen’s presence on campus was never intended to be long-term, adding that the Chinese government had already signed off on the Shanghai project. “If there were outside pressure, why would we have taken him in the first place when his plight was on every front page in the world?” spokesman John Beckman said in a statement to the Post.
If Chen’s presence wan’t meant to be long-term, then why did the Washington Post report that the school had “custom-tailored Chen’s legal curriculum,” beginning in June 13, 2012? Considering Chen had to learn English first, and was slated to “make his way in the coming weeks from the Declaration of Independence toward constitutional law,” accomplishing both tasks in less than a year would be a Herculean effort. Furthermore, Chen is scheduled to visit Chinese nemesis Taiwan in the coming weeks — meaning pressure against NYU could have ratcheted up recently.
Chen has been an outspoken critic of China’s human rights policies, speaking before a Congress on the subject. He also says that the Communist government has not lived up to the pledge it made to U.S. diplomats that members of his extended family who have remained in China would be treated in accordance with the law. Two of his relatives have apparently borne the brunt of government retaliation for Chen’s escape. His nephew, Chen Kegui, was sentenced to 39 months in jail following an altercation with local officials who reportedly stormed his parents’ house. And his oldest brother, Chen Guangfu, reports that he and his family are constantly harassed by local thugs who have assaulted him, tossed dead animals onto the family’s property, and distributed insulting flyers about them.
Such treatment by the Chinese government is nothing new. While he was still in China, Chen was illegally kept under house arrest for four years. When he escaped with the help of human rights organizations, and ended up at America’s Embassy in Beijing, government officials demanded an apology for harboring him. “What the U.S. side has done has interfered in the domestic affairs of China, and the Chinese side will never accept it,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told China’s official Xinhua news agency.
At this point the story takes a curious twist. When Chen left the embassy, handing himself back to the Communist government, he checked into a hospital to get treatment for injuries caused by his escape. American diplomats reported Chen did so of his own free will, after they procured assurances from government officials that he would be safe. Yet in an interview given to the AP from his hospital bed, Chen declared that a U.S. official had told him the government would send his family back home, and beat his wife to death if he didn’t leave the embassy. “They said if I don’t leave they would take my children and family back to Shandong,” Chen told the AP, adding that the death threat was conveyed by an official he could not identify.
Embassy officials concurred with Chen’s statement that if he stayed in the embassy indefinitely, his family would have been sent home. But they denied passing on any threat of violence.
Chen’s dissident friends backed his version of the events, with his wife claiming that “what the media reported is wrong,” and characterizing the deal to return her husband to Chinese custody as “shameful.” She further noted that a widely reported message that Chen wanted to “kiss” then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ostensibly as a gesture of gratitude, was actually a demand to “see” her before he was returned to Chinese custody.
Chen’s eventual move to NYU was brokered by NYU law professor and China expert Jerome Cohen, the same man who designed his curriculum. Cohen is currently in China and could not be reached for comment. Chen has had little communication with NYU President John Sexton, who is chiefly responsible for the NYU’s expansion into Shanghai and Abu Dhabi. And despite university denials, insiders told the Post that the university sees itself as “increasingly vulnerable to pressure from China as the Shanghai campus project moves forward.”
Chen is currently in discussions with Fordham Law School in New York, to see if he can continue his studies at that school.
What the Post didn’t mention was Chen’s particular brand of human rights activism. He is ardently pro-life and highly critical of China’s forced sterilization policy. A 2005 report complied by Chen and his human rights team regarding coercive family planning in Linyi City, Shandong Province, included witness statements revealing several gruesome details about the policy. These included aborting and forcibly sterilizing a woman seven months pregnant; Family Planning Officials breaking three brooms over the head of an elderly man, and forcing a grandmother and her brother to beat each other up; people sleeping in fields to avoid those same officials; and the detention, fining and torture of extended family members of anyone who violates the nation’s One Child Policy.
In the progressive universe of college campuses like NYU, it is likely Chen’s pro-life efforts are viewed with a certain amount of apprehension, if not downright hostility.
In conjunction with Chen’s ouster, it is worth remembering that NYU recently rolled out the red carpet for another “dissident” apparently more in tune with the university’s worldview. In April, NYU announced that former Weather Underground member and convicted murderer Kathy Boudin would be named the university’s Sheinberg Scholar-in-Residence. The Rose Sheinburg Lecture Program “invites a scholar working on cutting-edge issues of gender, race, and class to participate in a day of informal discussion, classroom teaching and formal lecture in order to expose the Law School community to a variety of ideas, insights, and initiatives.”
The biography of Boudin contained at the site is a pathetic example of historical revisionism. “Kathy Boudin has been dedicated to community involvement in social change since the 1960’s. She works for transformation of the criminal justice system through education, activism, and research and has published widely in the areas of education, parenting, women, health, and restorative justice.” Other “insignificant” details omitted from this paean include the fact that Boudin spent 22 years in prison for an armored-car robbery–during which two policemen and Brinks guard were murdered.
At NYU, human rights champion Guangcheng Chen gets the boot even as a murderous thug like Kathy Boudin is lionized. In the ivied halls of academia, it doesn’t get any more intellectually bankrupt than that.
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