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: