Brandeis University cancels plans to give Ayaan Hirsi Ali an honorary degree

This is reprehensible, unconscionable, and ridiculous. Yesterday’s New York Times reports that Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, which was planning to award an honorary degree to author and anti-Muslim activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali—one of the bravest women on the planet—has cancelled those plans. Why? It’s pretty clear, especially given that Brandeis is one of the nation’s most “politically correct” universities. As the paper reports:

Facing growing criticism, Brandeis University said Tuesday that it had reversed course and would not award an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a campaigner for women’s rights and a fierce critic of Islam, who has called the religion “a destructive, nihilistic cult of death.”

“We cannot overlook that certain of her past statements are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values,” the university said in a statement released eight days after it had announced that Ms. Hirsi Ali and four other people would be honored at its commencement on May 18.

Yes, my dear readers, she was disinvited because her criticism of Islam’s excesses constitutes “Islamophobia,” which apparently does not comport with the “core values” of Brandeis University. I wonder if those core values include the suppression of dissent, the criminalization of homosexuality and blasphemy, and the oppression of women.

It’s worth reading the Times’s story in detail. Here are some bits (my emphasis):

At first, it was bloggers who noted and criticized the plan to honor Ms. Hirsi Ali, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Within a few days, a Brandeis student started an online petition against the decision at Change.org, drawing thousands of signatures. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights and advocacy group, took note, contacting its members though email and social media, and urging them to complain to the university.

On Tuesday, a student newspaper, The Justice, reported on the controversy, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations sent a letter to Dr. Lawrence, referring to Ms. Hirsi Ali as a “notorious Islamophobe.”

“She is one of the worst of the worst of the Islam haters in America, not only in America but worldwide,” Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the group, said in an interview on Tuesday. “I don’t assign any ill will to Brandeis. I think they just kind of got fooled a little bit.”

In its statement, Brandeis said, “For all concerned, we regret that we were not aware of” Ms. Hirsi Ali’s record of anti-Islam statements, though those comments have been fairly widely publicized.

“You would think that someone at Brandeis would have learned to use Google,” said Rashid Khalidi, a professor of Arab studies at Columbia University, who said he thought Brandeis had arrived at the right position: not awarding a degree, but welcoming Ms. Hirsi Ali to speak.

How could Brandeis not know? Ali has been speaking out against Islam for years, especially its marginalization and oppression of women, and for that her life has been repeatedly threatened. As far as I know, she’s in hiding in the Netherlands the U.S. under guard, though she does make some public appearances. And the only organization willing to employ her is the conservative American Enterprise Institute, which is a great shame, for to many people that conflates her message with darker currents of American conservativism.

What’s a greater shame is Brandeis’s cowardice. On what basis was she to be given the award in the first place, if not for her activisim and writings? And then, on perhaps the very same basis, they withdrew the award because her work is “Islamophobic.”

Islam happens to be the world’s most pernicious faith, in my mind edging out Roman Catholicism. Of course not all Muslims are bad people, or adhere to the life-degrading tenets of radical Islam, but the silence of many Muslims when, say, fatwas are issued against Salman Rushdie, suggest that many moderate Muslims enable the more radical ones through their silence.  And Islam’s oppression of women, apostates, gays, and nonbelievers is enshrined in many places in sharia law. (Note the previous post that Saudi Arabia has branded atheists as “terrorists.”) Sunni and Shia Muslims regularly slaughter each other over the most trivial issue: who is to be the head of the faith—the most qualified or the descendants of Muhammad?

The world’s people—especially the half of them that have two X chromosomes—would be better off without Islam, and that is Ali’s message.

For saying that, she’s branded an Islamophobe and her honor withdrawn, all because of the squalling of Muslims whose feelings are, once again, offended. Shame be unto Brandeis University and the cowards who caved into to those hurt feelings. I am ashamed that my fellow liberals, who prize freedom of speech and the right to dissent, nevertheless suppress that freedom by bowing to Muslim pressure.  This will only encourage the muzzling of anyone who has criticized Islam.

_______

UPDATE: Tw**ts on this from Popehat, Sam Harris, and Richard Dawkins:

Screen shot 2014-04-09 at 9.57.46 AM Screen shot 2014-04-09 at 9.57.14 AM

Screen shot 2014-04-09 at 10.15.31 AM Screen shot 2014-04-09 at 10.16.11 AM

h/t: Grania

97 Comments

  1. Cara
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Subscribe.

    • gbjames
      Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      sub

    • francis
      Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      //

  2. John Harshman
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    So did Brandeis ever actually announce why they were giving the award in the first place?

    • Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      They usually only read the encomiums at the ceremony, and some universities don’t even announce the awardees in advance.

      • John Harshman
        Posted April 9, 2014 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        So they didn’t say why they were honoring her, but did say why they weren’t? Nice.

  3. Merilee
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    I think it’s been years since she’s been in hiding in the Netherlands. She’s been married to historian Niall Ferguson since 2011 and they have a kid. Ferguson teaches at Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford, I believe. I think they live together in the U.S.

  4. davidintoronto
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    So no fake degree. But the invitation to speak (at commencement?) is still open? I suggest she speak about why the fake degree was withheld. ;)

  5. Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    If there’s one person who is quite justifiably afraid of Islam in its Ayaan Hirsi Ali. That isn’t Islamophobia.

    • Posted April 9, 2014 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      Since she apparently already was threatened (and possibly more than once) it’s no longer a phobia, but a very rational concern for one’s life.

      • merilee
        Posted April 9, 2014 at 11:00 am | Permalink

        As her book, Infidel, relates, she has been labelled an infidel by her own father, and many others. She also underwent circumcision back in Somalia. She was in danger in Holland after that filmmaker(Theo Van Gogh?? might have his first name wrong) was murdered. Ali was involved with his infidelish film…She has not had an easy life, and smart as Ferguson is, I’m sure he’s not easy to be married to (imho).

        • LuckyLuigi
          Posted April 9, 2014 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

          Theo Van Gogh was brutally slaughtered in the streets of Amsterdam by a muslim fanatic for speaking out against Islam, the religion of ‘peace’.
          So she has every right to fear Islam and its supporters.

        • Brendan Reid
          Posted April 9, 2014 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

          She also underwent female genital mutilation back in Somalia

          Fixed it for you

          • merilee
            Posted April 9, 2014 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

            Thanks, but I’ve heard female genital mutilation also called female circumcision, and I did not add the female part because Ali is clearly a woman.

            • Filippo
              Posted April 10, 2014 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

              Maybe “amputation” should enter the female genital mutilation lexicon.

              • Merilee
                Posted April 10, 2014 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

                Ouch. All so barbaric!

              • Diane G.
                Posted April 10, 2014 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

                That deserves the frowned upon +1.

                And what explicit term can we use for being sewn shut (and then later cut open)? I suppose we have to continue writing it out in full.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted April 10, 2014 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

                Ugh the way Ayaan Hirsi Ali describes it in infidel is so well done that it makes me cringe and tense up!

              • merilee
                Posted April 10, 2014 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

                At least she didn’t get that horrible permanent condition/infection/scarring – can’t think of what it’s called – as she did manage to bear a child. I saw a special on some African women who had horrible injuries and couldn’t find husbands because they were incontinent and always smelled of pee. Barbaric! Some doctors came and managed to repair some of the damage, but I think some of the young girls (often they were still teenagers) required more than one operation.

              • Filippo
                Posted April 10, 2014 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

                Assuming that Brandeis has some sort of “Freshman Seminar” experience requiring the reading of a specific book, perhaps the next such book should be Ali’s. After all, Brandeis claims to still want her to come to campus to speak. Let her speak to students through her written word. That way, she can’t be repeatedly interrupted and cut off.

              • merilee
                Posted April 10, 2014 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

                Not to mention sewn shut with thorns:-)

                I remember first hearing about this horrible practice while doing research for an anthro seminar in college in the late 60s. I did a presentation on it and people could not believe it was true. My (American) parents lived in Nigeria at the time and I believe it was fairly
                prevalent in the Muslim Hausa North.

              • John Scanlon, FCD
                Posted April 11, 2014 at 7:09 am | Permalink

                If it’s lexicography you want, clitoridectomy and infibulation are a couple of useful items for the thesaurus.

  6. Billie
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    She’s been living in the USA for quite a while and even has an American nationality (since may 2013).
    However, this was not a free choice as she has stated that political islam has made here life impossible in the Netherlands.

    And now it’s also hampering her life in the US.
    Sickeningly sad.

  7. Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    WTF MAN? is this really what it is come to?

  8. Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    A Jewish school censors an Islamic apostate who speaks against the most appalling antisemitic forces in existence today. Oy.

    • Pete Cockerell
      Posted April 9, 2014 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      No-one was censored. Brandeis’s decision does nothing to impede Ali’s ability to speak out about the depredations of Islam on free society, and I’m sure she’ll continue to do that as eloquently as before. At most you could say that Brandeis implicitly censured her, but that’s not the same thing at all.

      • Posted April 9, 2014 at 9:10 am | Permalink

        My bad. Next time I’ll be less implicitly unhaphazard with my adverbs.

      • Curt Nelson
        Posted April 9, 2014 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

        I know… Condoleezza Rice is supposed to speak at the U of MN (for $150,000) soon and some are protesting it, saying she isn’t worthy, and her supporters are crying CENSORSHIP.

        Why don’t they explain why she is worthy instead of making such an obviously wrong claim?

      • Posted April 9, 2014 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        Actually, it censored her from speaking to a graduating class, didn’t it?

        • Posted April 9, 2014 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

          AH, I see they offered to let her speak. (?) Still the absolute shits, IMO.

        • Posted April 9, 2014 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

          Yes, of course.

        • Pete Cockerell
          Posted April 9, 2014 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

          Not by any meaning of the word “censor” that I’m familiar with. To Censor is to prevent the distribution or publication of material that’s already extant, not to prevent someone from speaking, which is better termed repression. So certainly Ms Ali could justifiably cry, “Help, help, I’m being repressed!” but, no, I don’t think she’s being censored.

          If she’d been allowed to give her speech and then Brandeis refused to make the video or transcript available, you might say it was censoring her, but given that she’d still be able to make the speech available on all sorts of media, it would be a very weak form of censorship.

          Anyway, hopefully by now Brandeis has realized the enormity of its error, but it’s hard to see what the remedy could be.

  9. Trophy
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    What are the statements made by Ayaan Hirsi Ali that are considered problematic by these people? I’m asking this because at least when it comes to white guys who criticise Islam, it is often construded that they are in fact anti-immigrants who are doing veiled racism since focusing on Islam does a pretty good job of capturing all those foreign shades of skin color (and to be fair, there are far-right groups who actually do this strategy, e.g. English Defense League).

    But accusing Ayaan Hirsi Ali of Islmophobia is really ridiculous. She a victim of Islamic terror and a living example of brutality of many muslims. She has every right to truly hate Islam and Islamic extremists and for that even very devout muslims.

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted April 11, 2014 at 7:13 am | Permalink

      For those who can construe Islam as an ethnicity, it is no stretch to call AHA a self-hating muslim.

  10. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure of the meaning of the sentence
    “Islam happens to be the world’s most pernicious faith, in my mind second only to Roman Catholicism.” So is Islam second then?

    Personally, I would put Scientology in the top three, and am tempted to rank Mormonism 4th. (The church of Scientology remains the only world organization to have all the IP addresses registered to it permanently blocked from editing Wikipedia.)

    I had a more friendly view of modern (as opposed to medieval) Roman Catholicism until all the molestation scandals surfaced, and I have since drastically changed my mind.

  11. Greg Esres
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    The destructive meme here is that tolerance means we should be tolerant of intolerance.

    Of course, the corollary is that we should also be tolerant of intolerance of intolerance.

    The computer science people here will understand that this leads to stack overflow.

  12. eric
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    she was disinvited because her criticism of Islam’s excesses constitutes “Islamophobia,” which apparently does not comport with the “core values” of Brandeis University. I wonder if those core values include the suppression of dissent, the criminalization of homosexuality and blasphemy, and the oppression of women.

    I don’t know a whole lot about him, but Louis Brandeis was evidently a huge defender of liberal free speech as well as the right to privacy. Both positions would, I think, make it likely that he would object to the University’s decision. The idea of not honoring someone just because their speech offended some group would likely not go over well. The idea that such a person would have to go around with an armed guard because the group she spoke out against was threatening her would probably offend his notion of her privacy.

    Now maybe its too much to expect Brandeis University to reflect all of the values of their namesake. But it does seem to me that this decision is inconsistent with some of the key values that their namesake held.

    • Greg Esres
      Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      “Both positions would, I think, make it likely that he would object to the University’s decision.”

      That assumes that people are perfectly consistent, which we know isn’t true. Many champions of principle demonstrate examples of violating that principle in practice.

    • Diane G.
      Posted April 10, 2014 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

      Not to mention that Jews of all people should recognize the sect-ism of being discriminated against by liberals supporting the underdog, no matter who it is.

  13. Diana MacPherson
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    What a shame that an institution that stands for open speech and discussion of ideas, silences dissent by siding with those that are offended by Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s words. It is clear, that they haven’t read her books or googled any of her speeches.

  14. eric
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    she was disinvited because her criticism of Islam’s excesses constitutes “Islamophobia,” which apparently does not comport with the “core values” of Brandeis University. I wonder if those core values include the suppression of dissent, the criminalization of homosexuality and blasphemy, and the oppression of women.

    Apologies if this is a repeat, my first post seems to have gone astray. Don’t know about the core values of Brandeis University, but Louis Brandeis was a huge proponent of free speech. I can’t imagine he’d be too happy with the idea of withdrawing an honorarium from a speaker solely on the grounds that their speech was unpopular.

  15. Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Sadly very predictable and straight out of the Islamist operating manual.
    The tactic is to accuse an opponent of Islamophobia, watch as Muslims (and fellow travelling leftists) work themselves into self righteous fury and then see liberal institutions cave in.
    It’s markedly similar to the furore over Maajid Nawaz a couple of months ago in the UK. Luckily then the Liberal Democrats wobbled but held their nerve. Brandeis (like some of the London Colleges) are clearly made of weaker stuff.

    • Gordon
      Posted April 9, 2014 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      It’s the tactic used by any totalitarian group to suppress criticism. Unfortunately it seems only to easy to con the politically correct left to buy into this tactic

      • Mark Joseph
        Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

        It’s the tactic used by any totalitarian group to suppress criticism.

        See “Christianity, The War on”, “Christmas, The War on”, “The Bible, The War on” ad infinitum.

  16. Larry Gay
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    This corroborates the theme of “Unlearning Liberty” by Greg Lukianoff that speech is restricted on campuses where you might expect it to be especially free. In fact speech is freer in the host society than on many American campuses. Jerry discussed Lukianoff’s book many moons ago on WEIT.

  17. Ian Hewitson
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    I share the outrage and disdain at the unversity’s decision but I can also empathise with its conundrum. My eldest daughter is at UCL and here in the UK at least, I think decisions like this one are not so much driven by politcal correctness but the very real fear of the consequences – and I don’t just mean a few Muslim gobshites getting a bit upset.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted April 9, 2014 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      Which is a little ironic given what Ayaan Hirsi Ali has gone through. I’m not disagreeing with you, just thinking how much worse that really is.

    • eric
      Posted April 9, 2014 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      “Fear of serious injury alone cannot justify oppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burnt women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears.”

      -Louis Brandeis.

      • Posted April 9, 2014 at 10:02 am | Permalink

        Very nice quote from an appropriate source!

      • Posted April 9, 2014 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

        And since that quote was already taken, I took the liberty of posting these other Brandeis quotes to the President’s Facebook. My post:

        “The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.”
        “The logic of words should yield to the logic of realities.”
        “Neutrality is at times a graver sin than belligerence.”
        “Men long for an afterlife in which there apparently is nothing to do but delight in heaven’s wonders.”
        “We are not won by arguments that we can analyze, but by tone and temper; by the manner, which is the man himself.”
        – Louis D. Brandeis
        By yielding to or agreeing with apologists for Islam, you have sided with unreason, misogyny, tribalism, superstition, and oppression… for starters. Brandeis is rolling in his grave.

        • Filippo
          Posted April 9, 2014 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

          ‘ “We are not won by arguments that we can analyze, but by tone and temper; by the manner, which is the man himself.”
          – Louis D. Brandeis ‘

          I suppose that that is an accurate-enough assessment of the current state of humanity’s rational critical thinking abilities; a statement of the reality of the current situation.

          I once reflected to someone, “It’s not so much what you are saying to me as HOW you are saying it to me!” Issues of basic decency and civility.

    • Jon Esner
      Posted April 9, 2014 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      The thought that they might end up like Hirsi Ali’s colleague Theo Van Gogh would influence most people. The open threat of serious violence virtually always goes hand in hand with complaints of offence and Islamophobia.
      Nevertheless, a large section of the political left seems to have bought the argument that “Islamophobia = Racism”, from the nuanced (Ian Buruma) to the nuance free (George Galloway).

      • Grania Spingies
        Posted April 9, 2014 at 11:31 am | Permalink

        Yes, very true.

        It boils down to: do we embarrass the African woman who writes books or do we give a vocal bunch of professional offence-seekers an opportunity to mobilize their global network of extremists who can’t wait for the next opportunity to threaten – and sometimes carry out – violence against anyone they don’t like.
        We vote for: humiliating the woman.

        And in so doing the university shows once again that all too many Western liberals think that women, particularly women who commit the transgression of not being born into a privileged white Western society, can be disregarded and sacrificed on the altar of religion and culture.

        • Diane G.
          Posted April 10, 2014 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

          So true. Though I believe Rushdie was also disinvited a few times during the height of his fatwadom.

          • Grania Spingies
            Posted April 11, 2014 at 11:32 am | Permalink

            Although he did get a knighthood in the UK, in spite of complaints of some liberals.

            Here’s Hitch telling them off

            • merilee
              Posted April 11, 2014 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

              you GO (went?) Hitch! Brilliant, as usual.

  18. Posted April 9, 2014 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Sam Harris has also tweeted his disdain for Brandeis’ cowardly decision. Sam himself has been a target of charges of Islamophobia by people like Glenn Greenwald and apologists for Islam.
    Jerry, is it not possible for you to write a letter of protest to Brandeis? I’m sure you could acquire many signers. After all, Brandeis’ decision was the result of pressure from PC liberals and/or apologists for Islam. How about some pressure from people who see Islamophobia as a tactic to end criticism of Islam and its intolerance?

    • Larry Gay
      Posted April 9, 2014 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      As an alternative, faculty and students might organize an alternative ceremony to honor free speech and Hirsi Ali.

      • Posted April 9, 2014 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        This is precisely what we did at William and Mary in 1971 when our university refused to allow Charles Evers, civil rights activist, to speak. We organized a “counter commencement.”

        • Larry Gay
          Posted April 9, 2014 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

          I’m assuming that the ceremonies in question would be in late May or June, so there is time to organize.

        • Filippo
          Posted April 9, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

          And that’s seven or eight years after his brother, Medgar, was assassinated (in front of his wife and children?). What was the administration’s bloody problem? William and Mary is “private,” right? Did they hide behind the fatuous “private” conceit?

      • gravityfly
        Posted April 9, 2014 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

        That would be a great move!

  19. Scientifik
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Shame on the University and anyone who signed the cowardly online petition! Sends a really bad message to the academia, and jihadists.

  20. Posted April 9, 2014 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Obscene. The eroding effect on all our enlightenment values that such an incident fosters is not really the fault of the so-easily-offended religious zealots who ask for these special considerations and sensitivities but to the spineless moral relativists who acquiesce to their demands.
    That this should also occur at a university is even more appalling.

    • Posted April 9, 2014 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      “The eroding effect on all our enlightenment values that such an incident fosters is not really the fault of the so-easily-offended religious zealots who ask for these special considerations and sensitivities but to the spineless moral relativists who acquiesce to their demands.”

      Sadly I don’t think this even qualifies as aquiescence. There doesn’t appear to be any reluctance involved. They seem to be more than happy to embrace this, as you say, appalling and obsence behaviour through a misguided sense that they’re doing the right thing; the liberal and the just thing. Meanwhile, they simultaneously abandon the liberal ideals of equality and freedom that they profess to stand for. A sad situation indeed.

      • eric
        Posted April 9, 2014 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        You could possibly read reluctance into the official message (see here). If you were being charitable.

        The line the University seems to be taking is that since this is a commencement, its about making the students happy with the choice of speakers (with the implication that a lot of their students weren’t happy with the choice. Hard to say whether that’s true or this is just a case of a few squeaky wheels getting the grease).

        • eric
          Posted April 9, 2014 at 10:50 am | Permalink

          Ack, my link didn’t work. Here is the link that shoud’ve appeared as “see here.” I will plaintext it just to be safe:

          http://www.brandeis.edu/now/2014/april/commencementupdate.html

        • gbjames
          Posted April 9, 2014 at 10:55 am | Permalink

          Sorry, I think you need more than charity to read reluctance there.

          This is a shameful act, period.

        • Filippo
          Posted April 9, 2014 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

          So, do they poll the students, and try to discern the desires of the plurality? Bring in some sports or hip-hop star – an avatar of academic excellence.

          • Diane G.
            Posted April 10, 2014 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

            Or Oprah.

  21. abrotherhoodofman
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Nice move, Brandeis decision makers. History will not be kind to your idiocy.

  22. TJR
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    We’ve always recognised that the looney left and the rabid right end up being more or less the same, but its so depressing to see liberals of all people falling into these traps.

    • jay
      Posted April 9, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      Considering that change.org is considered a mainstream force in the Democratic party, you can see where they sit.

      The truth is that while there are many free speech individuals who identify as liberals, American liberals as a group are more than happy to censor or effectively suppress speech they find offensive, just like their right wing brethren.

      I personally reject the liberal label just like the conservative one.

  23. Posted April 9, 2014 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    To cancel an honor such as this because a few members of the society feel that their religious sensibilities have been offended is an affront to free speech and sets a bad trend. It is such as these that led to the arrest and imprisonment of a few freethinkers in 1880 Britain.

  24. darrelle
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Bunch of assholes.

    This aptitude for punishing / burdening / stigmatizing victims is SOP at all levels of society. I see it at my kids school where much time, effort and advertising is spent on anti-bullying, and yet the actual typical practice is for the staff to repeatedly tell the children that “telling” on other children is not nice. Another typical practice is to humiliate the victimized child by purposely speaking down to them in front of their peers for having the temerity to come to the staff-member to tell them that another kid has assaulted them.

    Hell, if we do it to kids, may as well do it to everyone else.

    Sometimes it really seems like we have made no progress.

    • Filippo
      Posted April 9, 2014 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you. However, let’s not forget the bully’s bloody manipulative tactic of accusing the victim, or a third party student, of “snitching” by reporting the bullying/physical abuse. Such a bullying tactic puts one in a rage.

      Back in The Ancient Philistinic Days (the early 70’s), I (a high school student) overheard a father of another student telling a teacher that, if it became necessary, the teacher should “whip the horse piss” out of his son, the father of his own volition forthrightly acknowledging the problem presented by his son’s willful, obstinate, defiant, rude, loutish and bullying behavior. Not every parent acknowledges that reality; little Johnny is as pure as the driven snow.

  25. Jesper Both Pedersen
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Cowardly bullshit.

    So much for integrity.

  26. Nilou Ataie
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Good god, what does a woman have to do to earn the right to be afraid of a barbaric religion, get her clitoris cut off with a rusty blade? Wait, THEY DID THAT TO HER. Brandeis admins have their heads lodged up religion’s butt. How’s the view?

    • SA Gould
      Posted April 9, 2014 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      Nicely put.

    • Diane G.
      Posted April 10, 2014 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

      And let’s not forget that the genital mutilation was not the only horror she suffered. A male tutor fractured her skull; her father tried to marry her off against her will; the very serious (in terms of ‘likely to be followed through on) murder threats, etc.

  27. Merilee
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    OT: Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish on PBS tonight ( at least on the Buffalo station)

  28. Posted April 9, 2014 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Nice post, although maybe anti-islam as opposed to anti-muslim?

  29. Posted April 9, 2014 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    One can see the decision-making process.
    1. She is suggested, through some internal process driven by academic staff, as recipient of an honorary degree and speaker. The case probably used some quotes from Louis Brandeis, such as the one in the comment by @eric
    2. The nomination is accepted, upper echelons applaud the idea and may even take ownership, since it reflects so perfectly the values of the founder.
    3. Some organised outrage. Urgent meeting of aforementioned upper echelons, wondering if this will damage income from overseas students.
    4. New “decision” taken.
    5. New wave of outrage.
    Self censorship is the very worst form of censorship. In this instance there has been no formal complaint, from e.g., a Mosque, or a theocratic government 9as far as I understand). Nonetheless, the fear of such a complaint and its consequences (loss of ftes) results in self censorship.
    The best possible outcome? A large decline in applications to Brandeis by US students, with the most vociferous action taken by women, giving Brandeis a massive headache due to the resulting skew in the gender distribution of its student population and loss of income.

    While we may be firing at Brandeis, I would note that they are not alone. In the theocracy I reside in, we have had, for example, the instance of segregation of genders at UCL. I would add that there are countless examples of low level, yet insidious censorship in our universities. Academic freedom and freedom of speech are ambitions, not reality.

  30. gbjames
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Hemant Mehta has additional info on his blog.

    • Rory
      Posted April 9, 2014 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      I find it interesting to compare the comments here with those on http://www.Dutchnews.nl, which are generally much less in favour of Ms. Ali.
      She is not terribly popular here in NL, due to the scandal surrounding her application for refugee status and Dutch citizenship, her being forced out of her seat in the Dutch parliament and the political in-fighting surrounding all of this that ultimately lead to the fall of a government, not to mention her going to work for an American neo-con think-tank thereafter. Her alliance with the odious Geert Wilders is not fondly remembered either. She appears to be seen as a disingenuous opportunist. Personally I miss her for her ability to confront shibboleth’s of every hue, something not often done in consensus driven Holland.

      • gbjames
        Posted April 9, 2014 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

        As an American liberal, I’m ashamed that only a conservative think-tank offered her a refuge. I don’t blame her for taking the offer.

      • John Scanlon, FCD
        Posted April 11, 2014 at 7:27 am | Permalink

        Yes, the Netherlands* certainly did treat her scandalously. I’m not surprised there’s a lot of shame felt over there when her name comes up from time to time.

        *(collectively and institutionally; obviously not every individual)

  31. Filippo
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    sub

  32. Filippo
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Perusal of Wikipedia reflects that Brandeis is a private university, and Albert Einstein’s declining to accept an honorary degree as the result of a kerfuffle related to defining and establishing the university’s founding cultural (Jewish) values and goals.

    I wonder if these particular values and goals would make the university all too sensitive to accusations of Islamophobia. They surely have in the past been all too often in the figurative (if not literal) crosshairs of Islamic zealots. Again, they should have thought about that before extending an invitation to Hirsi Ali. (If I correctly recall, she’s hitched to that Scotsman of forthright opinion, Niall Ferguson.)

    I believe it was Hitchens who (on CNN? MSNBC?) raked over the critical thinking coals the quoted Ibrahim Hooper.

    “Rashid Khalidi, a professor of Arab studies at Columbia University, who said he thought Brandeis had arrived at the right position: not awarding a degree, but welcoming Ms. Hirsi Ali to speak.”

    How many believe that Islamic zealots would restrain their mouths and allow her to speak? It seems that, from their pious perspective, her “sins” are more than equal to those of Theo van Gogh and the Danish cartoonist. How dare a female speak her mind!

  33. Rob
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Hmm. I’m wondering…assuming Brandeis University has awarded honorary doctorates to other people…have any of those other recipients EVER said anything that was not consistent with Brandeis University’s core values?

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted April 9, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      The Washington Post says yes, yes it has in this article

  34. Mike Savage
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    well Jerry there’s hope for you yet.

    I have to say I was thrilled to see you take this stand and to use your forum so eloquently.

    BTW I have a few photos I’m going to send along re: KK

  35. Mark Joseph
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    This is nauseating. Is everyone in power just going to kowtow to fundamentalist extremist nutjobs? Especially the liberals; they ought to know better. But, they’re as well off as any of their more conservative counterparts, and undoubtedly fear any sort of personal risk.

    I think that everyone who respects truth and freedom, and abhors superstition and totalitarianism, should speak out against what Brandeis (inter alia) has done.

    Perhaps not at the same refined level as the quotes from Mr. Brandeis himself, but here is a useful one from John Varley, sourced at his Wikiquote page:

    “I am vehemently anti-religion. That is, organized religion. I despise them all. I try to despise them equally, but lately Islam has shot to the top of my hate list, for obvious reasons. I don’t give a shit what they do in their own squalid little dictatorships, but they seem to want to export “Submission” to the whole world, and they are willing to kill the likes of Salman Rushdie and those Danish cartoonists for insulting Islam. They are basically living somewhere around the 8th Century, and I often wish I had a time machine to send them back there. (Yes, I know there are moderates. So why don’t they do something about the zealots?) So when I mention religion at all in my stories, the practitioners are usually doing something nutty. About as nutty as praying five times a day facing Mecca, saying a rosary, handling deadly snakes, or speaking in tongues.”

  36. karen
    Posted April 25, 2014 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    America land of the free if I remember right. Ms Ali is a hero to women around the world. She is here because of the freedom to speak openly for anything including the safety & security & welfare for Muslim women all over the world!! All I can say is God bless her conviction, her writings & her convictions – what she writes & says is the truth – a lot of people didn’t believe Jews were killed in Europe during WII. Ms Ali has to be believed for the sake of women all over the world!! Do not be afraid to tell the truth nor believe it – Ms Ali has no reason to lie & deserves the Nobel Peace prize for her voicing the ugliness of women’s brutality in the Muslim communities even in our own country. . .


9 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/brandeis-university-cancels-plans-to-give-ayaan-h… […]

  2. […] now, everyone has heard about the Brandeis/Hirsi Ali debacle and the subsequent fallout. Sam Stone has given his take on it in a previous post. As he […]

  3. […] Brandeis University cancels plans to give Ayaan Hirsi Ali an honorary degree (whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com) […]

  4. […] http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/brandeis-university-cancels-plans-to-give-ayaan-h… […]

  5. […] across America. Free speech is no longer tolerated by the left. Take the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She was supposed to receive an honorary degree from Brandeis University as a courageous campaigner […]

  6. […] across America. Free speech is no longer tolerated by the left. Take the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She was supposed to receive an honorary degree from Brandeis University as a courageous campaigner […]

  7. […] across America. Free speech is no longer tolerated by the left. Take the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She was supposed to receive an honorary degree from Brandeis University as a courageous campaigner […]

  8. […] across America. Free speech is no longer tolerated by the left. Take the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She was supposed to receive an honorary degree from Brandeis University as a courageous campaigner […]

  9. […] across America. Free speech is no longer tolerated by the left. Take the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She was supposed to receive an honorary degree from Brandeis University as a courageous campaigner […]

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