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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Penn President snuggles up with 'suicide bomber' for Halloween

And I thought these types of things only happened at my alma mater, Columbia. University of Pennsylvania President Dr. Amy Gutmann is getting herself into deeper hot water by the minute. Dr. Amy held a Halloween party last week, and - she claims - more than 700 students attended, all of whom wanted to be photographed with her. One of the students who did manage to get his picture taken with Dr. Amy was one Saad Saadi who was dressed up as one of his heros: a suicide bomber. Don't they make a cute couple?

Just in case you can't see the picture clearly, allow me to tell you that Saadi is wearing a keffiyeh around his head, a toy Kalashnikov rifle in hand and six plastic sticks of dynamite strapped to his chest. A smiling Gutmann stood next to him, dressed as Glenda, the Good Witch of the North, a character from L. Frank Baum's novel The Wizard of Oz. How romantic....
In a statement released by her office on Friday, Gutmann sought to distance herself from the incident by portraying it as an innocent mistake on her part. She asserted that some 700 students attend her annual Halloween costume party, and "they all crowd around to have their picture taken with me in costume."

"This year," Gutmann said, "one student who had a toy gun in hand had his picture taken with me before it was obvious to me that he was dressed as a suicide bomber."
Let's look at that picture again. A little closer this time. How could she have missed it? Well, according to the Daily Pennsylvanian, she didn't miss it.
Saadi told The Daily Pennsylvanian that Gutmann did not seem to take his costume too seriously. He said when he approached her for to the photo, she joked, "'How did they let you through security?'"
Isn't that cute?
Gutmann released a statement yesterday [Thursday CiJ], saying that she did not realize what Saadi was dressed up as until after she had taken the photo. She said that after she realized he was dressed as a suicide bomber, she refused to take any more pictures with him.

"The costume is clearly offensive and I was offended by it," she said.
Look at her again. Does she look offended?
However, she acknowledged that "the student had the right to wear the costume just as I, and others, have a right to criticize his wearing of it."
There's that Ivy League political correctness coming through again....
Saadi, who is also a DP photographer, initially posted the photo with President Gutmann on his Facebook profile, but sites including democracy-project.com and ivygateblog.com have since posted that picture, along with others. They show Saadi holding a fake rifle and explosives, mock-executing students and imitating other jihadist activity.

Saadi added that while some party guests expressed disapproval at the costume, more people were complimentary.

In addition to Gutmann, Saadi posed with University Chaplain William Gipson.

Since the photos have sprung up on the Internet, Saadi has made a public apology available on his Web site, in which he says that the costume was not intended to be offensive, and that he does not support terrorism or violence.
But of course.... I guess Harry Potter thought it was cute too....

Winfield Myers asks the relevant question:
"An obvious question: would Gutmann have posed with a guest - or even allowed him into her house - if he'd dressed as Adolf Hitler or a Nazi SS officer? A KKK member?" Myers asked in his blog posting.

"But in modern liberal circles, posing as a Palestinian suicide bomber (see his kefiya) is just fine. After all, he mainly tries to kill innocent Jews," Myers added.
Maybe Amy and Saadi think it's a joke. But for those of us who daily live with the threat of suicide bombings it is anything but a joke.

The fact that a large number of people at one of America's top universities think suicide bombers are a 'joke' (when it would be obviously clear to them that dressing as a KKK member is not a joke) speaks volumes about what 'higher education' means in the United States today. Mr. Saadi is not the only one. One Eric Obenzinger thinks that Israelis dress up as suicide bombers for Purim, and that therefore it is a perfectly acceptable costume. Not in this city. Not in Tel Aviv either. Nine and a half years ago, they actually had a suicide bombing on Purim.

By the way, check out Mr. Saadi's web page while you are it. Yuck!

You can find more pictures and links here.


At 7:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


My name is Eric Obenzinger and I am mentioned in this post for comparing Mr. Saadi's costume to an Israeli Purim tradition. I just wanted to let you know that I did not pull the Purim comparison out of nowhere. I checked it with a several Israelis before publication, as any journalist would. I also knew about the "tradition" from my numerous trips to Israel.

It's not the kind of thing you would see in Jerusalem, especially in Orthodox areas. It's more common in the Center among younger people. But it definitely does happen. If you check out this interview with Mr. Saadi, you'll also see that he made his costume with the participation of his Israeli roommate, who photographed him and went out with him later that evening.

Best wishes,

-Eric Obenzinger


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