Wrong about Joshua Katz, and about Socrates (letter)

To the editors:

“Who cares about the character?” Breathtaking in the trend of Nadia Williams by Professor of Ancient History.

Joshua Katz, one of the most prominent scholars in the Princeton Department of Classics, also joined the campaign for Princeton University Princeton, to suppress the available evidence regarding Socrates. For someone with a doctorate in classics, it reflects badly on him and his teachers.

According to Professor Williams, Socrates sexually exploited handsome but dissolved elite Alcibiades. It is true that in ancient times there were rumors that there could be a physical relationship, but only an ideologue on a mission would turn it into a philosopher’s conviction and curse. In the words of the Alcibiads themselves, in the famous Platonic dialogue, Symposium (216c – 222b), try the young sexualist, he could not seduce Socrates about sex. The classist must give proper weight to the textual evidence he deserves and he fails miserably. Given his sloping scholarship, it is not surprising that Dr. Williams dismissed Professor Katz’s defense as merely a conservative initiative.

Does he see Penn America as part of that huge, right-wing conspiracy? Penn America provoked Princeton’s dismissal of Professor Katz, and accurately identified the real issue as Princeton’s contempt for academic freedom and freedom of speech.

It is sad to see that Nadia Williams’ ideology triumphs over the professional discipline of her content. An article entitled “Who Cares About Character” should focus on both character and scholarly approach.

–Michael B. Polyakoff
President, American Council of Trustees and Alumni

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