Lecture cancelled at Harvard after scientist calls Alan Dershowitz a Nazi





On Thursday, Robert L. Trivers took a train to Boston to give a talk at Harvard University the next day. Trivers is a prominent evolutionary biologist and anthropologist at Rutgers University and he had been invited to Cambridge in honor of his having won this year’s Crafoord Prize in Biosciences, a top international award that many consider a notch below the Nobel.

Trivers never got to give his talk. He says that hours before he was scheduled to lecture, he was called by an organizer and told that the appearance was being called off because of statements he had made about and to Alan Dershowitz, a law professor at Harvard. In a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal last week, Trivers quoted from an April letter he had sent Dershowitz. In that letter, Trivers wrote: “Regarding your rationalization of Israeli attacks on Lebanese civilians, let me just say that if there is a repeat of Israeli butchery toward Lebanon and if you decide once again to rationalize it publicly, look forward to a visit from me. Nazis — and Nazi-like apologists such as yourself — need to be confronted directly.”

According to Trivers, Dershowitz used his letter to have him declared “a threat” and blocked from speaking at Harvard.

[HNN Editor: The scientist, whose two sisters are married to Lebanese nationals, says he never intended to threaten Dershowitz physically.]

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    Charles Lee Geshekter - 5/30/2007

    If Trivers actually said what he is quoted as saying - "if you decide once again to rationalize it publicly, look forward to a visit from me. Nazis — and Nazi-like apologists such as yourself — need to be confronted directly” - then he is indeed guilty of a verbal threat that should be taken quite seriously.

    Trivers may exemplify the evolutionary advantage that comes from being a verbal blowhard........but he still deserved to be disinvited.........


    Vernon Clayson - 5/30/2007

    It's hardly a matter for law enforcement in the genteel world of academia but it does approach the definition of assault, assault is the threat and there must be a reasonable belief that it can be carried out to the next level, the battery part of the definition. Battery is unlikely, perhaps a sharp word of rebuke would be about the limit.


    Randll Reese Besch - 5/30/2007

    He only 'threatened' to confront him directly.


    Irene Solnik - 5/30/2007

    But he did threaten him.