In Defense of Harold Koh

 

KohI’ve been asked several times, including by the press, to comment on the controversy surrounding Harold Koh. Koh is a former State Department legal adviser — and occasional critic of mine — who’s now teaching international human rights law at NYU. That’s outraged some NYU students, who object to his appointment because of his role in the Obama Administration’s drone strike program, and are now circulating anti-Koh petitions. I can summarize my thoughts in short order:

While I don’t agree with Harold on many issues, the protest strikes me as silly. A university should bring forth all points of view, even those — especially those — that students, alumni, and faculty do not like. How better could law students learn than from someone like Harold, whose role as a government lawyer may have run counter to his views as a legal scholar and activist? If there are students, faculty, and alumni who think Harold should be excluded from the NYU community, they may want to go to a university that cares more about protecting their feelings than improving their minds. But they will be worse off for it.

There are 6 comments.

  1. Contributor

    Many students today think they are there to teach, not to learn.

    I visited a campus with my son last weekend. I saw many groups with tables set up with students willing to give life lessons.

    I’m not sure why they are even going to college.

    • #1
    • April 17, 2015 at 2:37 pm
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  2. Member

    Don’t worry about it. They probably just thought the missing “c” was a typo.

    • #2
    • April 17, 2015 at 3:50 pm
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  3. Inactive

    You of all people (“Yoo of all people”? Ha!) should be laughing this up, John. This guy was part of the crowd that was ready to send you to some ‘efffd up modern day Nuremberg. Now he’s been hoisted on his own petard by his own comrades.

    • #3
    • April 17, 2015 at 5:19 pm
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  4. Thatcher

    If it weren’t for fighting with my Anthropology professors and my fellow students in Intro to Ethics, my social science and humanities sequences would not have been anywhere near as entertaining as they were.

    I probably would have been kicked out of the university if I had pulled any of that stuff now.

    • #4
    • April 17, 2015 at 6:00 pm
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  5. Inactive

    Really love the way you handle the media :)

    • #5
    • April 17, 2015 at 10:20 pm
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  6. Contributor

    Tommy De Seno:Many students today think they are there to teach, not to learn.

    I visited a campus with my son last weekend. I saw many groups with tables set up with students willing to give life lessons.

    I’m not sure why they are even going to college.

    To give life lessons, Mr. De Seno. It sometimes seems that academia faced this question in the 60’s, who is the moral authority here?, & the answer is, the kids. They are, after all, the future.

    • #6
    • April 18, 2015 at 12:15 am
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