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Harvard Professor's Op-Ed Sparks Free Speech Debate30:47


For 10 years, Subramanian Swamy taught an economics course at Harvard University's summer school. Swamy earned his own Ph.D. in economics from Harvard, and he went on to become a prominent politician in India, leading - as he still does - the country's Janata Party.

And for a decade, his political views didn't seem to matter to anyone at Harvard. Until this summer, when Swamy wrote a fiery op-ed in the Daily News & Analysis of India calling for a particularly Hindu solution to wiping out Islamic terrorism. Annex parts of Bangladesh, he wrote. Prohibit conversion from Hinduism to any other religion. Mandate learning Sanskrit.

(The op-ed was subsequently removed from the paper's website. A link to a version of the op-ed has been reposted here.)

The op-ed didn't sit well with several students who called for his ouster. Harvard's president, Drew Faust, issued a statement supporting Swamy's right to free speech, and the matter seemed settled. Until last month, when a group of faculty effectively fired Swamy, without notifying him, by voting to remove his courses from the summer school catalog.

The move has ignited an even larger controversy at Harvard - one that pits extreme expression against academic freedom. Moreover, it has raised the question: Just how broad a universe of ideas should be welcomed at a university?


  • Diana Eck, professor of comparative religion and Indian studies, Harvard Divinity School
  • Harry Lewis, professor of computer science, Harvard University
  • Subramanian Swamy, head of India's Janata Party; former economics instructor at Harvard University's Summer School


This program aired on January 4, 2012.

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