Posted by: davidbancroft | May 13, 2014

Freedom of Speech is Under Attack

This is about fear.  We must never say anything that will alienate any group.  It’s about political correctness.  Where are the moderate Muslims?

I did not attend Brandeis University. I am a graduate from Penn State.  I always thought Brandeis University is the school where all ideas can be expressed. 

About Brandeis on its web site: The name Brandeis was not chosen by accident. Our founders sought to name the university after an individual of impeccable moral fiber, leadership, intellectual ability, integrity and social conscience. The name that stood out was that of the late U.S. Supreme Court associate justice Louis D. Brandeis.

Ayaan Hirsi AliA few weeks ago Brandeis University took the step of dis-inviting Ayaan Hirsi Ali from giving a talk at the forthcoming commencement ceremony on the grounds that the faculty who had protested her appearance had pointed out that she was not simply critical of Islamic practices, but blamed the religion of Islam itself for the kind of backward positions many Islamists took. Explaining her shock at the Brandeis position, Hirsi Ali gave the following statement to Time magazine:

“I assumed that Brandeis intended to honor me for my work as a defender of the rights of women against abuses that are often religious in origin. For over a decade, I have spoken out against such practices as female genital mutilation, so-called “honor killings,” and applications of Sharia Law that justify such forms of domestic abuse as wife beating or child beating. Part of my work has been to question the role of Islam in legitimizing such abhorrent practices.”


The Economist calls this “Enlightened intolerance.” says “Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the dangerous anti-Islamic logic of the war on terror.”

“It is difficult to conceive of a braver woman alive today than Ayaan Hirsi Ali,” said James Kirchick in The Daily Born into a Muslim family in Somalia, she was subjected to genital mutilation as a child, fled to the Netherlands to avoid a forced marriage, and became an outspoken critic of Islam, and Its treatment of women. Death threats followed, and she had to go into hiding after a Muslim fanatic murdered a filmmaker with whom she had worked and warned her that she was next. Now living in the U.S.under 24-hour police protection, Hirsi Ali remains “a heroic example to women around the world”-but not to Brandeis University. Last week, under pressure from Muslim groups, Brandeis canceled plans to award Hirsi Ali an honorary doctorate, claiming that her attacks on Islam went against the uni­versity’s “core values.” It was another depressing example of the “thought police” on college cam­puses squelching free speech.

“Brandeis got it right,” said Rabbi Eric Yoffie in An honorary doctorate would have been an endorsement of Hirsi Ali’s deplorable views. She has said that “violence is inherent in Islam,” and called the entire reli­gion a “destructive, nihilistic cult of death.” She doesn’t even distinguish between moderate and radical Muslims. “As we Jews know, there are real consequences when entire populations are represented in the public imagination by their worst elements.” But Brandeis has honored controversial figures before, said William Kristol in The Weekly Standard. Previous recipients include playwright Tony Kushner, who once labeled the creation of Israel “a mistake,” and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who has compared Israel to Hitler. Is there one rule for critics of Judaism, and another for critics of Islam?

One group has remained shamefully quiet over the muzzling of Hirsi Ali, said Jeff Jacoby in The Boston Globe: liberal feminists. They call opposition to employer-provided contraceptives “a war on women.” But “the savagery of honor killings or child marriages”? It does not stir their outrage. Brandeis should have followed Colum­biaUniversity’s example, said Robin Abcarian in the Los Angeles Times. When Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was invited to speak there in 2007, Columbia’s president let him-but only after denouncing his most offensive views in interviews, statements, and the introduction to his talk. The best response to offensive speech isn’t censorship-it’s “more speech.”

David Bancroft


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