Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A University Grovels

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
     I spend more time than I care to quantify discussing the internal rot that’s steadily eating away at Western (formerly Christian) society as a result of self-absorbed secularism and cultural leftism.  The result of a culture that increasingly lacks its core is a loss of self-confidence, and hence the will to resist pressure from without.  The newest example (or at least it was the newest this morning) is that Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, has reversed its decision to invite Ayaan Hirsi Ali to speak at the University and receive an honorary degree [link].  Ali, according to the Fox News Article,  “was raised in a strict Muslim family, but after surviving civil war, genital mutilation, beatings and an arranged marriage, she renounced her faith in her 30s”.  Although born in Somalia, Ali served for a time as a member of the Dutch Parliament, is an activist for women’s rights, and an energetic critic of Islam (and particularly its treatment of women). 
     She sounds like an interesting speaker, doesn’t she? And yet there are those who don’t want her to speak.  Again from the Fox article:

“This is a real slap in the face to Muslim students," said senior Sarah Fahmy, a member of the Muslim Student Association who created the petition [to revoke Ali’s invitation] said [sic] before the university withdrew the honor. "But it's not just the Muslim community that is upset but students and faculty of all religious beliefs," she said. "A university that prides itself on social justice and equality should not hold up someone who is an outright Islamophobic."

Ali appears to be a person who has suffered from a lack of social justice and equality, but the Muslim Student Association says she’s “Islamophobic” so . . . what is a University to do?
     Act decisively, of course.  Brandeis withdrew its invitation, and issued the following statement:

She is a compelling public figure and advocate for women's rights, and we respect and appreciate her work to protect and defend the rights of women and girls throughout the world . . .  That said, we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University's core values.

Can it be that it is against Brandeis’ “core values” to criticize people who beat you, mutilated your body, murdered your associates (see Theo Van Gogh link) and have repeatedly threatened you with a most grisly death?  Or has her “Islamophobic” speech been that inflammatory?  Here’s the only sample supplied in the news story:

Once [Islam is] defeated, it can mutate into something peaceful. It's very difficult to even talk about peace now. They're not interested in peace. I think that we are at war with Islam. And there's no middle ground in wars.

Hmm. I don’t see any “hate”, nor fear as such.  Ali is not calling anyone names, nor is she demeaning or disparaging any people.  She is critiquing a mind-set and a movement.  She is certainly not displaying any “phobia”, which is a psychological term denoting a compulsive,  irrational fear of something.  Ali’s concerns are not only grounded in reason, they are based on long, hard experience, and permanently branded onto her body.  Under the circumstances, I find her language remarkably measured and dispassionate.  And in any case, I don’t know of anyone who has shown themselves to be less afraid (i.e., “phobic”) of Islam.
     Brandeis University, on the other hand, is afraid.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand why; this is no irrational fear.  They know what happened to Theo Van Gogh, and how the Islamic world reacted to the publication of Muhammed cartoons, or to Pope Benedict’s Regensburg Address, and on and on.  They are no doubt concerned about the safety and well-being of their students and staff. Too bad they didn't say so in their statement, rather than seeming to endorse the real "hate speech" directed at Ayaan Hirsi Ali.  It’s a sad commentary on how diminished we have become when a great university so obsequiously sides with the bullies against so courageous a victim.