Monday, November 06, 2006

More Goodie Gutmann

My friend, Michael Freund, reports in the Jerusalem Post that

in "a letter to the University Community" that was posted yesterday on the college's website, Gutmann appeared to change tack, acknowledging that, "The photograph is embarrassing for the University and me alike."

While still insisting that she did not realize the "full extent of his costume" until after the photograph with Saadi had been taken, she did offer a more explicit expression of remorse.

"The student has since apologized, and I accept his apology," she said, adding, "I too apologize for the offense this photo has caused."

In addition, Gutmann said that some have "mistakenly interpreted the photograph as my support for terrorism."

"Nothing could be further from the truth. I abhor terrorism, suicide bombers and everything they do. My record is unabashedly clear on this point," she noted.

Meanwhile, back at, campus:-

The Penn student who appeared at a University function dressed as a terrorist says he'd do it again - at least, most of it.

"Looking back on it, I don't think I would've been as public, and I definitely would not have published my photos," Engineering senior Saad Saadi said.

Saadi dressed as a suicide bomber and was photographed at Penn President Amy Gutmann's Halloween party last week.

Saadi, who is not Muslim, wore camouflage pants and a characteristically Arab scarf, strapped fake bullets and dynamite to his body and read passages from a pocket-sized New Testament, which he pretended was the Qu'ran.

"We were like, 'Yeah, let's dress up as terrorists. It'll be pretty funny,'" Saadi said of his costume, which his friend from another university also wore. "I didn't realize people would get offended or angry."

But let's have the editorial staff of the campus newssheet have the very last word:-

Standing by Gutmann

Student tested limits with costume, but criticism of president isn't warranted

Opinion Board

Almost a week ago, all Daily Pennsylvanian editors headed down Walnut Street to pay a visit to President Amy Gutmann's Halloween party.

It's an annual tradition, and one of the only where large numbers of students really get to interact with their president.

At the party, hundreds of students wander through a large, dark tent, sporting Halloween costumes from cheerleaders to mobsters. The students clamor around Gutmann, trying to get her attention long enough to get a picture snapped with her.

This year, one student, Engineering senior Saad Saadi, dressed as a suicide bomber and posed with Gutmann. The pictures of the two soon made rounds on the Internet and ignited a firestorm of criticism of both Gutmann and Saadi.

In Saadi's case, some criticism is certainly warranted. People have the right - as some were - to be offended by his costume and pictures of him conducting mock executions.

But Gutmann, from what we can tell, did nothing wrong.

She must have taken pictures with hundreds of Penn students that night. It's simply not feasible for her to examine every students' costume and measure where they were offensive enough to warrant turning down a picture request.

When Saadi really did cross the line, by asking Gutmann to pose in a photo as a hostage, she rightly refused to do so.

As Gutmann has said, Saadi undeniably had a right to wear the costume - just as others have the right to be offended by it.

But it's ridiculous to get angry at Gutmann because one of the hundreds of students she posed with wore a costume some find offensive. Moreover, most of the heavy criticism of Gutmann is coming from alumni and ordinary citizens outside Philadelhia - not from students who were actually at the event.

We hope, for everyone's sake, Gutmann will reveal more in the coming days about what actually transpired between herself and Saadi at the party.

But critics should temper their fiery comments. The true shame would be if this wonderful tradition came to an end simply because of a costume choice.

The country's future leaders.


1 comment:

Suzanne Pomeranz said...

"a costume SOME find offensive..." which means that SOME at Penn do NOT find it offensive... now THAT really is scary.