Rutgers cancels free-speech lecture because of “Islamophobia”

Rutgers, a high-quality university in New Jersey, is proving itself to be one of the more censorious and Authoritarian Leftist campuses in America. Now it’s canceled yet another speech by someone who might have offended the campus community, Lisa Daftari.

Click on the screenshot to read the story from Mediaite, which I think leans toward the left (you can also find the story on various Rightish websites, of course):

Part of the Mediaite report:

Fox News contributor Lisa Daftari had a speaking engagement cancelled on her by Rutgers University.

Daftari, a Middle East and counterterrorism analyst who was a graduate from Rutgers and an Iranian Jew, was scheduled to speak on “Radicalism on College Campuses,” which would put focus on free speech on college campuses.

However, a student-led petition accused her of Islamophobia, citing this remark she said to the Heritage Foundation as a “small sample of harmful rhetoric.”

“Islamic terror takes its guidance and teachings from the Quran, which is Sharia law.”

Well, that statement happens to be true. If it’s harmful, my response would be, “Are you harmed by the truth? If so, too bad for you! And you have no right not to be offended, especially on a campus.”

More from Mediaite:

Rutgers’ associate director of public and media relations Neal Buccino told the Jewish Journal that they “postponed” the event, saying the university “will continue to go forward on events that reflect a wide variety of perspectives.”

Mr. Buccino (contact information here) will hear from me. Look at his weaselly statement!

I wouldn’t doubt that Muslim student organizations were behind the petition to deplatform Daftari, especially because that petition was started by one Adeel Ahmed.

Part of the Islamist playbook, which has proven remarkably effective among Leftists and credulous college students, is to prevent criticism of Islam by labeling its critics “Islamophobes” or “racists”. It worked in this case, but we need to stand up against the censorship of criticism, especially against religion, which tries mightily not to answer criticism, but to prevent it.

I’ve just written Neal Buccino, to wit:

Dear Mr. Buccino,

I read with dismay your statement on the cancellation/postponement (which is it?) of Lisa Daftari’s talk on Islam and free speech. If Rutgers values a diversity of opinion, as you claim, why do you allow your campus to censor a critic of Islam (not of Muslims, but of a religious ideology)?

Do you think that the true statement that ISIS justifies its actions using the Qur’an, the basis of sharia law, should be suppressed at Rutgers? If so, I’d like to know why.

I consider myself a liberal, but also a free speech advocate; and I’m appalled that your university is deplatforming an already-invited speaker and that you have issued an ambiguous statement supporting free speech but at the same time implicitly saying it’s ok to censor a speaker. Please let me know what is behind Rutgers’s action, and whether you intend to host Ms. Daftari in the future.

What is most distressing is that this censorship was the action of your own university. Universities are supposed to be venues of free speech, to which you pay lip service while at the same time denigrating it.

Jerry Coyne

Professor Emeritus
Department of Ecology and Evolution
The University of Chicago

I also sent a copy to Rutgers’s President, Robert Barchi. Any bets on whether either of them replies, or replies with a substantive answer?

h/t: Orli


  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted October 13, 2018 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    ““small sample of harmful rhetoric.”

    … there’s got to be a very clear, simple way to show this is nonsense. How about if one invokes any phobia they like? Liberalophobia, Conservativophobia, Keynesiophobia, Scientophobia? Or call words you don’t like “rhetoric”, or a point one makes “an agenda”….

    Eventually nobody will say anything.

  2. Andrew
    Posted October 13, 2018 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    An ex-Muslim from Pangburn Philosophy recently set out to ask muslims if its ok to criticize Islam. The results are predictable:
    I agree with people like Bill Maher, Sam Harris or Jordan Peterson and others when they say that there is no such thing as “Islamophobia”. (As opposed to hatred and bigotry toward Muslims, which is a real thing) It makes sense to fear an ideology that has spawned so much terror in the last 20 years. To me, Islam is a theocracy, a “total solution” that deserves harsh scrutiny, not empathetic cultural relativism.

  3. James Heard
    Posted October 13, 2018 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    You are absolutely *right on* with your reply to Buccino and the president of Rutgers!

  4. FB
    Posted October 13, 2018 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    The animosity toward the unbelievers certainly comes from the Qur’an (kuffaarophobia?).

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 13, 2018 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    A very good letter. Just what they need.

  6. Posted October 13, 2018 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Decisions like this accomplish absolutely nothing other than providing more ammunition for the right.

  7. Brujo Feo
    Posted October 13, 2018 at 2:07 pm | Permalink


  8. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted October 13, 2018 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Someone needs to start compiling a list of speeches about free speech that have been banned.

    I understand why feminists defend Isis, the Egyptian goddess, but not why they ignore ISIS, the terrorist organization.

    Sure, you can say other Muslims condemns ISIS’ reading of the Koran, but their stuff is still based on A reading of the Koran.
    ( HuffPost reports on the rebuttal here )

    • Posted October 13, 2018 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

      Sure, you can say other Muslims condemns ISIS’ reading of the Koran, but their stuff is still based on A reading of the Koran.

      I don’t think it’s that simple. If anyone’s reading of something is valid, then one could argue Richard Dawkins believes in intelligent design. (Though religious texts are notorious for the huge number of correct, or should I say approved, readings.)


  9. mordacious1
    Posted October 13, 2018 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    This woman was invited to speak, not by some group on campus with an agenda, but by the university itself. And they chose the topic of the talk. How embarrassing. It appears that having a spine is not a prerequisite for being a university administrator.

  10. Taz
    Posted October 13, 2018 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    According to the article, they weren’t even honest about the quote:

    Islamic terror, as we know, CLAIMS to take its teachings and its guidance from the Quran, which is Sharia law

    • Posted October 13, 2018 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      That is a very good point, and worth pointing out to the admin. at Rutgers.

  11. BJ
    Posted October 13, 2018 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Wow, if they applied the standards here in picking out that small and true statement to the statements of BDS supporters, and if they applied the standard to antisemitism that they do to Islamophobia, every BDS group and speaker would be banned.

  12. rickflick
    Posted October 13, 2018 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    I’m curious why a school like this hasn’t read the news lately. Don’t they realize that other institutions have come out strongly for free speech? The correct rational has been documented and publicized(U of Chicago) and should be emulated by all schools. Get with the program Rutgers.

  13. Posted October 14, 2018 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    The problem here doesn’t just lie with the university for backing down. It also lies with a generation of students rendered incapable of true critical thinking, having been shielded in school and at home from “uncomfortable” ideas and experiences that disrupt their worldview. I know many millenials who don’t fit this description but sadly too many do. A healthy democracy requires this kind of exposure and free expression of viewpoints. We aren’t doing society any favors by shutting them out.

  14. Hempenstein
    Posted October 14, 2018 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    The official name is Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. My seven years in exile in Jersey were spent there. At some point one of my fellow grad students remarked that it ought to be Ruptures, the Mistaken University.

%d bloggers like this: