Friday, February 18, 2005

Welcome to Harvard 

The prestigious Harvard University will be hosting a group of six students from Baghdad and Basra, four men and two women, who will attend meetings, interact with other students, and generally experience life of a busy American campus. The six will also attend, I kid you not,

"the conference course Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality 1203, 'Gender and the Cultures of US Imperialism'"
which will probably explain to them the evils of the system that made it possible for them to leave Iraq and visit an American university to be lectured on the evils of the system that... Anyway, bringing six Iraqi students to Harvard is expensive ($20,000); it would have been far cheaper to leave Saddam in power and just keep the Baath news channel on.

But the main reason that the Iraqi students are coming to Cambridge, Mass, is to attend the Harvard National Model United Nations (HNMUN), described as "an annual simulation of the United Nations" (hopefully without massive fraud, mass rapes of underage girls and turning a blind eye to genocide; although what that leaves the United Nations with is not clear). The idea behind the Model UN is to bring together 2,100 students from 15 countries around the world and to seemingly randomly assign them to represent other countries; or as Matthew R. Smith, the current secretary-general of HNMUN puts it, "to look at international relations with other’s eyes" (thus the Iraqi will actually represent Australia).

Trading places with dictatorships and other assorted human rights-challenged regimes sounds like a good idea, although policy-wise it won't create a big culture shock for much of the Western new born isolationist left and the Old Europe representatives. But for the Iraqi six it might at least explain why it took 12 years to liberate them.


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