The Iran Foray of the ASA

(Commentary) Martin Kramer - The American Studies Association (ASA) coddled one of Iran's most prominent America-bashing academics at the very moment when Iran's President Ahmedinejad was busy purging Iran's universities. In 2005, the University of Tehran established a Department of North American Studies, with U.S.-born Seyed Mohammad Marandi, a regime loyalist who fought in the Iran-Iraq war, becoming its director. That year the ASA brought Marandi to the U.S. for its annual conference. In 2006, the Center for Distance Learning at SUNY Empire State College received a "partnership grant" from the ASA to promote its ties with Marandi's department - "seed money" for a full-blown exchange. In 2007, Marandi was back at the ASA, at its annual meeting in Philadelphia, to present a paper savaging literary memoirs written by Iranian critics of the regime, some of which had become popular in the U.S. (e.g., Reading Lolita in Tehran and Persepolis). In September 2006, President Ahmadinejad launched a tirade against "the continued presence of liberal and secular professors in the country's universities." Word came that these professors were being retired en masse. Yet through all this turmoil, Marandi and his university program flourished, and he became the go-to man for the official point of view in the world media. The episode casts a harsh light on the ASA's latest decision to boycott Israel's institutions of higher education. The ASA now boycotts Tel Aviv University, not the University of Tehran, and even worse, it has a record of legitimating the very faction on the Tehran campus installed by the regime as part of a purge.

2013-12-23 00:00:00

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