A $750,000 gift for the Libyan government in Georgetown University, which occasioned a passing spring shower of student protest last May, has now inspired a more or less bitter exchange between columnist Art Buchwald and Peter Krough, dean of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.
In a letter this week to a university student newspaper, the Georgetown Voice, of which Buchwald claims to be an "avid reader," the columnist acrused the university of taking "blood money from one of the most notorious regimes in the world today."
Libya, said Buchwald, has "financed, trained, supported and [given] haven to terrorists and hijackers. . ." He went on to suggest that Georgetown, might next consider a "Brezhnev Studies program in Human Rights" or an Idi Amin Chair in Gencide."
Dean Krogh yesterday described Buchwald's letter as quite a cheap shot that is unworthy of the Art Buchwald I have known."
"I don't know Uganda. I've never been to Uganda. I don't know Idi Amin," said Krogh, declining to predict whether the university would accept a Ugandan endowment. "I'm hesitant to address what is a hypothetical situation."
However, he defended establishment of the chair Buckwald had attacked, the Umar Al-Mukhtar professorship of Arab culture. "This is not a chair for the advancement of hijacking," said Krogh. It was "named after a national hero who to my knowledge died in defense of principles and values that a great many people would identify and sympathize with," he said.
Umar Al-Mukhtar was the leader of a 1920s campaign of resistance against Italian occupation. He was eventually hanged for his activities.
Krough said his concerns in accepting outside money are that the university's "integrity and objectivity" not be compromised, and that the purpose is worthwhile. "This contribution passed all of those tests," he said.
Under Col. Muammer-Qaddafi's 8-year-old regime Libya has been a destination or stopover point for several teams of international hijackers, and has repeatedly been accused by other Arab countries of financing or encouraging campaigns of terrorism and assassination.
Buchwald pointed to Libya's recent condemnattion of the Somalian goverment's role in inviting a West German commando team to rescue a hijacked Lufthansa jet and its 82 passengers.
"Libya is in the same class as Uganda," said Buchwald yesterday before boarding a plane from Indianapolis, where he had just delivered a lecture.They are "the most notorious countries in the world right now for training terrorists and giving them sanctuary," he said.
"As far as I know, that's not a really accurate characterization," said Michael Hudson, executive director of Georgetown's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. The Libyans, he commented, "say, they're just as anti-terrorist as the next government."