Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made an unfortunate joke that didn’t seem to go over very well with his audience during a Q&A session following a speech during the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Hagel had been discussing the potential U.S. negotiations with the Taliban in Afghanistan when he decided to take another question from the crowd. Spotting a man in the back of the room, Hagel asked, “you’re not a member of the Taliban, are you?”
After several awkward seconds, during which the questioner was presumably obtaining microphone and no one was laughing, Hagel got his answer. “Mr. Secretary, I’m Robin Gandhi, I’m an assistant professor at UNO.” According to his faculty page on the university’s website, Robin A. Gandhi, Ph. D. is an assistant professor of Information Assurance.
The Pentagon released the following statement assuring that there was no harm meant by Hagel’s joke:
“Absolutely no slight toward any individual in the audience was intended. That’s the last thing the Secretary would do under any circumstance, in this or any other setting. He didn’t know who would be called next to pose a question.”
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