Kerry: Civil Discourse Under Threat 05/21 06:08
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Former U.S. Secretary of State John
Kerry on Sunday warned that "true civil discourse" is under threat around the
world while speaking to graduates at NYU Abu Dhabi, an event that the school
blocked journalists from filming.
While obliquely criticizing President Donald Trump, Kerry did not mention
the 2015 Iran nuclear deal he secured with other world powers, an accord of
which Trump now has pulled America out.
It likely was courtesy to his hosts in the capital of the United Arab
Emirates, which long opposed the deal as not going far enough to limit Iran's
power in the greater Mideast. Kerry shared the stage with Emirati Minister of
State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash, who long had led the UAE's criticism
of the deal.
"True civil discourse is also under threat all around the planet, eroding
rights alongside trust," Kerry said. "Certainly in my country, our politics has
become almost all accusatory and all bombastic."
While never naming Trump, Kerry began his remarks by saying: "Given what's
going on today, I'm glad to be invited anywhere folks." He quickly added that
the U.S. "needs to build partnerships and cannot turn its back on the world."
Andrew Hamilton, president of New York University, also made a point to
criticize "disturbing trends of anti-intellectualism and anti-factualism" in
NYU Abu Dhabi invited reporters to cover Kerry's speech, then just before
the ceremony said journalists from The Associated Press and others could not
film his full remarks. They said the school would offer video that it would
editorially control after the event.
A university spokeswoman, Kate Chandler, said it was the school's decision.
Staffers for Kerry said they had no part in the organization of the event. The
school allowed an AP photographer and writer to attend Kerry's full speech.
This is not the first time NYU Abu Dhabi has faced criticism when trying to
balance the ideas of an American liberal arts education in the UAE, which has
strict rules governing speech despite being a staunch American ally in the
Human rights groups have criticized the school for using migrant workers to
build the campus who they say had been subject to a range of violations
including being forced to pay recruitment fees to get their jobs that were
never reimbursed, living in overcrowded conditions and being forced to work
Following the report, NYU commissioned an investigation, which found a
number of workers hadn't been protected by the fair labor practices the school
had said would be in place. The school promised reimbursement. A report
released this month said that even though the school investigated its labor
compliance, some workers involved in the campus' construction still were owed
money and worked in harsh conditions.
The journalism department at New York University in 2017 told the school it
was cutting its ties to NYU's Abu Dhabi campus over two professors being denied
work visas by the UAE, as well as the school's handling of the situation.