A Conservative Defense of Brandeis University

No, Ayaan Hirsi Ali did not have her speech "suppressed."

My neoconservative comrades are furious at Brandeis University for rescinding its honorary degree invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

John Podhoretz, in Commentary, called the decision by Brandeis’s president, Fred Lawrence, "nothing less than the act of a gutless, spineless, simpering coward," and a "monstrous capitulation to the screaming voices of unreason."

William Kristol, in The Weekly Standard, called it "shameful" and wrote that absent a satisfactory explanation, Brandeis donors "shouldn’t support an institution that's displayed such pathetic cowardice and moral bankruptcy."

The Wall Street Journal editorialized that Brandeis’s decision demonstrated that the Waltham, Massachusetts-based institution’s core values "now include intolerance and the illiberal suppression of ideas."

I’m hoping my friends on the right apply their enthusiasm for tolerance and the free expression of ideas to a respectful dissent from me on this particular one.

In the case of Hirsi Ali and Brandeis, the "suppression" argument doesn’t really apply. Brandeis's statement disinviting her as an honorary degree recipient said, "In the spirit of free expression that has defined Brandeis University throughout its history, Ms. Hirsi Ali is welcome to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues."

Ramaz, an Orthodox Jewish day school in Manhattan, rescinded a speaking invitation to Columbia professor Rashid Khalidi earlier this year without a peep of protest from us neoconservatives about intolerance or suppression of ideas.

No, the key issue here isn’t whether ideas are being suppressed, but whether Hirsi Ali's ideas are worth the quasi-endorsement of an honorary degree. This calls not simply for tolerating all sorts of ideas, but for exercising some judgment, for discriminating between good ideas and bad ones.

Here Hirsi Ali has been, at least by the standard of the star public intellectual she is, a bit cagey as to what her ideas actually are.

She claims she has been misrepresented. "My critics have long specialized in selective quotation—lines from interviews taken out of context—designed to misrepresent me and my work," she said in her initial statement responding to Brandeis.

In an interview with Megyn Kelly on Fox News, Hirsi Ali said, "they take lines from various interviews. I mean, the magazine was in 2007 and then they tie all these things together to fit their own narrative."

The reference was to a 2007 interview with Reason magazine in which Hirsi Alsi spoke of her atheism and called for Islam—not "radical Islam," but "Islam, period" to be "defeated," "in all forms."

While Hirsi Ali is claiming to be misrepresented by her critics, however, she is at the same time going ahead making similar arguments to the ones she made back in 2007. On April 10, 2014, The Wall Street Journal published, under the headline, "Here’s What I Would Have Said at Brandeis," what it described as an abridged version of remarks she planned to deliver. "The connection between violence, particularly violence against women, and Islam is too clear to be ignored," she wrote. Not radical Islam, not fundamentalist Islam, not Islamism, but simply Islam, a religion whose faithful adherents include some hundreds of millions of women.

"Both Christianity and Judaism have had their eras of reform. I would argue that the time has come for a Muslim Reformation," she wrote.

What are non-reformed Christians, such as Catholics or adherents to the Greek Orthodox church, supposed to make of that? Or unreformed Jews, such as those of us who are of the Orthodox or Conservative varieties? It's not as if Islam is the only violent religion. Humility recommends mentioning that even we Jews have had, within living memory, Baruch Goldstein and Yigal Amir, though, significantly, their deeds have been widely condemned by Jewish religious leaders rather than being celebrated. Nor is violence confined to religion; the atheistic Communists of the 20th Century Soviet Union and China surpassed, for sheer body count, anything the Muslims have perpetrated.

Hirsi Ali may make her mission fomenting a Muslim reformation as an avowed atheist operating from her perches at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and the American Enterprise Institute while simultaneously issuing a blanket condemnation of the Islamic faith. Stranger projects have succeeded, though I don't exactly see how adding an honorary doctorate from Brandeis to Hirsi Ali's list of credentials would advance the odds of accomplishing her goal.

But when Brandeis decides it's not in its institutional interest to throw its prestige behind that particular endeavor, particularly on a commencement day where Muslim students will be graduating, it seems to me that what's called for from the imams of neoconservatism, praised be their names, is a little less outrage and a little more understanding.

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  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Not to mention the part about closing Muslim schools.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    "The connection between violence, particularly violence against women, and Islam is too clear to be ignored," she wrote. Not radical Islam, not fundamentalist Islam, not Islamism, but simply Islam, a religion whose faithful adherents include some hundreds of millions of women.

    "Both Christianity and Judaism have had their eras of reform. I would argue that the time has come for a Muslim Reformation," she wrote.

    Mr. Stoll, considering that Ms. Ali underwent a clitoridectomy, performed with a dull and rust knife, at the hands of people who earnestly believed that the doctrines of Islam demanded it, I think she could be forgiven for making such an observation, no?

  • ||

    Nothing even to be forgiven for. But for female circumcision in particular isn't it mostly prevalent in Africa and the Islamic world as a whole?

  • ||

    and not the Islamic word as a whole.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I believe it would be most accurate to say that it is prevalent in Muslim Africa. At this point the cultural justifications are so intertwined that it's hard to separate them. It's not just "Black" Africa as the practice is extremely widespread in Egypt, for example.

  • ||

    Yes, Muslim Africa, both northern and subsuharan. But the point is that even in Saudi Arabia where they treat their women like shit, it's not known to be prevalent so there must be other cultural factors at work in addition to Islam.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I agree, and you do hit upon an interesting point: the answer to female circumcision lies within Islam, i.e. rejecting it as a pagan, pre-Islamic practice. However, such apologetics usually go hand-in-hand with Salafization/Wahabization, which leads to other undesirable consequences.

  • Free Society||

    So the only way to deride Islam with any validity is to do so from a position of pro-Islam?

    Islam is barbaric. And just a tad more so than the other Abrahamic religions which are among the most despicable belief systems on earth.

  • sloopyinca||

    Sure, buddy. That's why Christian charities probably bring morenoeoe out of abject poverty and true hunger than all others combined.

    But it's easier to ignore what they're doing good today than to ignore the bad fine in their name centuries ago.

    Also, I don't think it's "Christianity" doing bad things. It's people who aren't following the word of Christ but glomming onto his name. There's a big difference in that and a religion like Islam that codifies beating and subjugating women as a necessity to being a good adherent.

  • sloopyinca||

    Obviously I'm on my iPhone.

  • Free Society||

    The Bible condones and even claims to have directly commanded the slaughter of men, women and children. Last I checked baby murder is a bad thing and beliefs system that promote or excuse it are also bad. Even if their supernatural claims inspire someone to donate a dollar, it's a net loss of morality.

  • astronomical object||

    "FGM is endemic in Muslim-majority countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East... FGM has emerged as a major problem in Europe due to mass immigration..."

    http://www.gatestoneinstitute......mutilation

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "she could be forgiven"

    We don't give honorary doctorates to everyone we forgive!

  • JohnD||

    Ira Stoll is an idiot. MS Ali was betrayed by a gutless university that invited her to speak then groveled in fear after the murderous scum at CAIR protested.

  • OldMexican||

    It's not as if Islam is the only violent religion.


    What other violent religion is there, apart from the worship of Kali?

  • Matthias||

    I'm sorry, Sir, but worshiping Kali includes no violence at all. She just represents the destructive energy of the Divine Feminine and the raising energy of Shakti as a process of transgression and transcendence. Hinduism has its bad sides, too, though, when it comes to women's rights. However, I dislike Islam for many reasons, yet we should make a difference between Islam and Islamism or Muslim fundamentalists. The line of thought of Ira Stoll's article is very consistent and logical. A university should have the right to refuse a honorary doctorates to a scholar, if it disagrees with his/her approach to a religious tradition. It appears to me, however, that Hirsi Ali's argument for a Muslim Reformation is quiet right. If Christianity is less in a conflict with the modern world and Reason, then because it went through a phase of Enlightenment. The christianity of the Founding Fathers of America was informed by the ideas and ideals of Enlightenment. Islam needs a similar process of criticism that should come from within its own cultural spheres, instead of us telling them all the time what's wrong with their religion. However, female circumcision is a barbarian act of inhumanity that should be fought with any weapon. If Hirsi Ali's work could have an impact on that I would give her three honorary doctorates!

  • OneOut||

    "yet we should make a difference between Islam and Islamism or Muslim fundamentalists. "

    Why ?

    Every country that has a Muslim majority exhibits the same propensities.

    Kipling said it best, " the border of Islam is bloody".

  • Azathoth!!||

    A university should have the right to refuse a honorary doctorates to a scholar, if it disagrees with his/her approach to a religious tradition.

    Absolutely.

    Unfortunately, that's not what happened in this case.

    In this case, adherents of the faith the scholar has problems with made threatening noises at the institution in question. The institution, fearing the adherents of the faith the scholar has problems with, justifiably, given their repeated violent acts, caved in to the demands of adherents of the faith the scholar has problems with rather than risk their wrath.

    Further, they then, after caving to threats that have implied violence lurking ever behind them, chastised Ms Ali for calling attention to the violence they, themselves, fear.

    The actual stance of Brandeis is, as yet, unknown. All we have are coerced statements.

  • OldMexican||

    Nor is violence confined to religion; the atheistic Communists of the 20th Century Soviet Union and China surpassed, for sheer body count, anything the Muslims have perpetrated.


    Or anything anybody had perpetrated, ever. But let's be clear about something before we start defaming atheists: Communists are not true atheists, but are in fact State-worshipers who replaced God with the State.

  • ||

    I hate to point this out since I actually agree with your premise, but that's a classic No True Scotsman.

  • buybuydandavis||

    No, because there are true atheists who are not slaves to some ideal.

    Read Stirner for details.

  • Ann N||

    How are communists not true atheists? I would love to hear how you thing they don't fit that category.

    Atheism is not a condition of having no master. It's a condition of asserting an unprovable. negatives and all that.

  • BigT||

    Not quite. Atheism means not believing.

  • Free Society||

    Not believing in supernatural claims. Communists can make disingenuous and wildly inaccurate claims, but they need not be supernatural.

  • wadair||

    I think you mean agnosticism. Atheism is against theism.

    Believe is the verb form of belief. Belief means to "to hold dear, esteem, trust" (see Etymology Online). Therefore, believing is living according to one's highest values. I'd hope that atheists believe in something.

  • Free Society||

    No, atheism is non-belief in a deity. The atheist position does not make one single affirmative claim in and of itself. The burden of proof is on theist making the affirmative claims about the existence of a deity.

  • BigT||

    Commies didn't kill in the name of atheism. Unlike Xtians, Muslims, Hindus, etc

  • sloopyinca||

    If wager that their victims find no solace in that.

    Killing in the name of any belief system, whether it is in a divine being or an unprovable utopia, is equally abhorrent.

  • Free Society||

    Your infallible god ordered the Israelites to kill babies and rape women, or so the bible claims. So your belief system promotes those actions, and any other religion that does similarly is equally abhorrent.

  • thom77||

    So, several thousand years ago, atrocities were committed in the name of the Judeo-Christian God.

    Within the last half-century, a hundred million people have been slaughtered in the name of communism, and people continue to be slaughtered on a regular basis in the name of Islam.

    Hmmm... which is more relevant?

  • Azathoth!!||

    And commies killed babies and raped women.......just because?

  • Azathoth!!||

    Cite?

  • The Tone Police||

    ohh this article is dumb.

    "The connection between violence, particularly violence against women, and Islam is too clear to be ignored," she wrote. Not radical Islam, not fundamentalist Islam, not Islamism, but simply Islam, a religion whose faithful adherents include some hundreds of millions of women.

    wait, so what? I don't care if 90% of Islam's adherents are women. That doesn't make its tenets any more or less violent towards women. Like, what, if enough Jews endorsed the Holocaust that would make the Holocause OK?

    It's not as if Islam is the only violent religion. Humility recommends mentioning that even we Jews have had, within living memory, Baruch Goldstein and Yigal Amir, though, significantly, their deeds have been widely condemned by Jewish religious leaders rather than being celebrated.

    Was this supposed to help your point Mr. Stoll? Because I fail to see how.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Violence - everybody's doing it, therefore it's OK.

  • Ann N||

    its lol funny that he cant even let jewish violence stand without a qualifier.

  • Blaine||

    Right on, Ann. The peculiarities of humanity on display. Stoll has so little appreciation for civilization in general, and the efforts of his own particular race in particular, that he ignores mountains of general evidence to highlight some arguable edge case exceptions just to defend barbarians who tell the world daily that they wish his entire race (men, women, children) were decimated.

    Unlike Stoll's qualified claims, mine are based on volumes of self-reinforcing historical and current evidence (see e.g. memri.org and jihadwatch.org).

    Reason's and Cato's reality-denying stance on Islam is anti-reasonable. For other subjects, utilitarianism is applied with a study of history and a cost/benefit analysis applied, weighing probabilities. But when Islam is concerned, Reason and Cato assume that Islam is a benevolent religion like all others-- reality be damned-- and evidence will be ignored or bent to agree with this premiss.

  • tonguesandelbows||

    If the university should be criticized for anything, it's for apparently not knowing much about her when they made the offer. You wonder who had decided to give her an honorary degree (wankery in the first place), and whether they'd read anything she wrote before.

  • juris imprudent||

    And if Ira Stoll had made THAT argument I'd agree, but instead he is defending the withdrawal of the award under a heckler's veto.

    How the hell does a conservative with principles square that?

  • JohnD||

    As I said before, Stoll is an idiot.

  • angus||

    Ira Stoll states the point:

    My neoconservative comrades are furious at Brandeis University for rescinding its honorary degree invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

    What Brandeis have done by rescinding the award is say Ayaan Hirsi Ali's ideas are so shit, so awful, so utterly beyond the pale repulsive that she needs to be made an example of. They have taken the time and effort to publically highlight her for ridicule.

    Ira Stoll purposely misses the point by arguing, that the award should not have been made in the first place, an irrelevance.

  • angus||

    Not making the award in the first place, is not the same thing as offering someone an award and then withdrawing after they have indicated they wish to accept.

  • tonguesandelbows||

    The award shouldn't have been made in the first place, at least if they were diligent enough to know about her, and that there would have been a conflict for them in essentially endorsing her opinions by giving it to her. If they deliberately made the offer in order to rescind it, then they're as bad as they say her ideas are, in a different way.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "If they deliberately made the offer in order to rescind it"

    Is there a particle of evidence that they did this?

  • angus||

    It does not have to have been a deliberate ploy.

    Rescinding awards is what we do to cheats and crooks. It stands alone as a censorious act.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "Rescinding awards is what we do to cheats and crooks"

    If to that list we add would-be censors (like Ali), I agree.

  • ||

    Lol. We must censor the censors, lest they obtain power and censor us.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    All right, the issue *is* censorship, specifically the definition thereof.

    I don't think it's censorship to rescind an honorary doctorate, any more than it would have been censorship not to offer it in the first place.

    I *do* think that it would be censorship to close down Muslim schools.

  • Calidissident||

    How is this censorship?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    How is *what* censorship?

  • JohnD||

    No. The evidence is that they Kow Towed to CAIR. Which is much worse.

  • OneOut||

    What they did by rescinding an offer they had already made is demonstrate they are in no way competent to be running a "university " in the first place.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    From her Reason interview:

    "Asking whether radical preachers ought to be allowed to operate is not hostile to the idea of civil liberties; it’s an attempt to save civil liberties. A nation like this one is based on civil liberties, and we shouldn’t allow any serious threat to them. So Muslim schools in the West, some of which are institutions of fascism that teach innocent kids that Jews are pigs and monkeys—I would say in order to preserve civil liberties, don’t allow such schools."

    Once again, the namesake of Brandeis University supported free expression for *Communists,* and now they're supposed to publicly honor a woman who wants to close religious schools?

  • buybuydandavis||

    The pattern is clear - Anti Western totalitarianism is good, and therefore Western opposition to it is bad.

    If she came out in favor of shutting down Christian schools where Thomas Jefferson is considered the leading light on politics, then Brandeis would give her a medal.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    I like the idea that we should pressure universities to balance out ill-chosen public honors to A by an ill-chosen public honor to B.

    At least other critics point to the honorary degree for Tony Kushner as a precedent which needs to be balanced out by a degree for Ali.

    Now let's assume they granted an honorary degree to someone who wants to close Christian schools. Do they now balance that out with a degree to Ali?

  • ||

    "My neoconservative comrades are furious at Brandeis University for rescinding its honorary degree invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali."

    I'm not a neocon and think this was a pussy move.

  • R C Dean||

    Brandeis's statement disinviting her as an honorary degree recipient said, "In the spirit of free expression that has defined Brandeis University throughout its history, Ms. Hirsi Ali is welcome to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues."

    Stoll seems to think this pile of crapweasel gets them off the hook. However, keep in mind that this invitation was extended in the context of cancelling an invitation for her to speak (while accepting her honorary degree). In that context, its gibberish. It makes no sense to say that no suppression of speech at Brandeis has occurred, when a "live" invitation to speak is rescinded for purely ideological reasons in exchange for . . . well, nothing, really.

    And I'm not even counting the proggy "dialogue", which begins and ends with "Shut up and listen while we tell you what a bad person you are."

    Yeah, yeah, its their right to host whatever speakers they want. But they shouldn't be given a free pass on their towering hypocrisy about tolerance and inclusion and openness.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Nobody has a free-speech right to an honorary doctorate.

    If student groups aren't allowed to invite her, or if she is subject to conditions not applied to other speakers, then by all means denounce the university for repression. I don't think this will be tested, though, since she doesn't seem willing to come except to take a doctorate.

  • ||

    Nobody has a free-speech right to an honorary doctorate.

    Of course, no one ever suggested that such a right existed, but, uh... thanks for clearing that up.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    You may have missed this gem from the Wall Street Journal, quoted in the article above:

    "Brandeis, a school founded after World War II to defend non-sectarian religious liberty, might also ask if its "core values" now include intolerance and the illiberal suppression of ideas. Our answer would be yes."

    http://online.wsj.com/news/art.....3676739210

  • ||

    You may have missed that no reference to that gem was contained in the comment you replied to.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "It makes no sense to say that no suppression of speech at Brandeis has occurred"

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    And in any case, I was replying to your claim that "*no one* ever suggested that such a right existed." [emphasis added]

  • Cloudbuster||

    Even your quote from the WSJ doesn't claim that there's a free speech right to an honorary degree. You're still arguing against claims no one is making.

  • ||

    "It makes no sense to say that no suppression of speech at Brandeis has occurred"

    How you translated that into "There is a free speech right to be awarded an honorary doctorate" is anyone's guess.

    And in any case, I was replying to your claim that "*no one* ever suggested that such a right existed." [emphasis added]

    I, of course, meant no one *here in the comment section to which you offered a reply* had suggested that. You filling in for Bo Cara today?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    I'm sorry that I misunderstood your point about "no one." I hope, however, that you could understand how such a misunderstanding could arise.

    If I missed R C Dean's meaning, he can tell me himself.

  • ||

    I hope, however, that you could understand how such a misunderstanding could arise.

    Yes, I can certainly understand how that misunderstanding could arise

    You filling in for Bo Cara today?

  • ||

    Also, suggesting that it's intolerant to disinvite a speaker to your campus and withdraw the honorary doctorate you had planned to give them != a suggestion that there is a first amendment right to be awarded an honorary doctorate. You didn't even get this one partially right, even by accident.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Remind me where I mentioned the First Amendment, I can't seem to find where I said it.

  • ||

    Remind me where I mentioned the First Amendment, I can't seem to find where I said it.

    Nobody has a free-speech right to an honorary doctorate.

    Was there some other free-speech right to which you were referring? The only one I'm aware of in the United States is the one protected by the first amendment.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "The only one I'm aware of in the United States"

    So now *you're* going to Bo me?

    There is a tradition of academic freedom, and the accusers said Brandeis violated that tradition. I disagreed.

    Bo-like, you seem intent on telling other people what they believe. I'm not going to reciprocate, even though I could certainly get into a multi-post argument over your use of the term "no one."

  • ||

    There is a tradition of academic freedom, and the accusers said Brandeis violated that tradition. I disagreed.

    You disagreed by saying:

    Nobody has a free-speech right to an honorary doctorate.

    The supposed, though rarely demonstrated, "tradition of academic freedom" is not a "free-speech right". No one, up to and including the WSJ article you referenced, suggested anyone's actual free speech rights had been intruded upon, merely that the university was hypocritical for rescinding its honorary doctorate and invitation to speak in the name of "diversity" and it's ostensible tradition of academic freedom.

    I could certainly get into a multi-post argument over your use of the term "no one."

    And it would be a really convenient distraction from the nonsensical argument you're trying to piece together. But I think you pretty well shot your wad on that. I posted something you found unclear, I clarified it for you.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    I'm sensing a lot of hostility...

    "shot your wad?"

    "really convenient distraction?"

  • ||

    If you found that hostile, you must spend most of your time here at Reason positively mortified. I'm guessing by your faux outrage that you aren't interested in discussing the topic any further. You could have just said so.

  • ||

    FWIW, it's my opinion that there is no actual free speech issue in this case, Brandeis being a private university (and I don't think any of the cited references suggested such, except by the most tortured possible interpretation). The issue is the university's idiocy or hypocrisy. Which I think was pretty well summed up in RC Dean's initial post in the closing sentences:

    Yeah, yeah, its their right to host whatever speakers they want. But they shouldn't be given a free pass on their towering hypocrisy about tolerance and inclusion and openness.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Rather than indulge in Bo-esque debate, I'll stop referring to free speech and refer instead, as the WSJ does, to "non-sectarian religious liberty" - the liberty which Ali wants to violate by closing Muslim schools.

    So I suppose the question, then, is whether nonsectarian religious liberty is advanced or impeded by publicly honoring someone who wants to suppress religious liberty.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    "Rather than indulge in Bo-esque debate"

    Yes, why elevate it at this late point ;)

  • Cyto||

    A better topic for discussion: does the subjugation of women fall under the heading of "religious liberty".

    There is a right to your own beliefs. There is a right to worship as you see fit. But is there a right to deny rights to others in the name of religion?

    This topic is obviously more complicated than a twitter post can encompass. Most of the places she is talking about have a form of vigilante justice that includes extreme violence as a form of enforcement of religious codes.

    In the US we can talk about a Madras in Indianapolis as a simple matter of free speech and free religion. But it is very different in other parts of the world - places where a young girl might get her nose sliced off of her face for leaving an abusive arranged marriage to return to her father's home. (a real example)

    If I read her correctly, Ali seems to be warning that allowing these folks to operate freely in western society will result in the abuse of women in the west. As this is the stated goal of the people in question (establishing global sharia law) it is hard to argue that she's just being paranoid.

    How do we respond to antisemitic speech that is a subset of the Nazi philosophy? In the US we don't ban such speech with the force of law, but we certainly make a concerted effort as a society to exorcise those elements from society.

    We tend to believe that the answer to speech we disagree with is more speech. But how close do you walk to violence before you censor?

  • avocats||

    Not intolerant, just hypocritical and craven.

  • JohnD||

    I would not accept any kind of degree from this gutless excuse for a University.

  • ||

    They're cowards.

  • ||

    Dammit. Thanks for stealing my entire point while I was typing.

  • ||

    Brandeis's statement disinviting her as an honorary degree recipient said, "In the spirit of free expression that has defined Brandeis University throughout its history, Ms. Hirsi Ali is welcome to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues."

    An invitation I'm sure will be forthcoming...

    And even if it was, "Sorry, we didn't realize how much we actually despised your opinions and your work, but now that we've been made aware, we'll be happy to sit you in the corner and spit on you at your soonest availability" ain't exactly the soaring heights of academic openness. Either Brandeis was ignorant when they granted the honorary degree or ball less afterwards. Neither one is particularly flattering.

  • Homple||

    Forget it, Jake. It's academia.

  • buybuydandavis||

    What dishonest piffle.

    Yes, Brandeis officials have every right to pander to totalitarians and condemn people striving for a free world.

    And it's our right to call them dicks for doing so. What part of that don't you understand?

    "Ms. Hirsi Ali is welcome to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues."

    Oh yeah, I'm sure she's plenty welcome to chit chat in the campus Quad. That you could reference such bs approvingly shows how much honesty you've put into this article.

    What are non-reformed Christians...

    Christians practicing iron age barbarism should expect similar condemnation from Ayaan.

    But your attempt to equate rank and file modern day Catholics with those in favor of death for apostasy, blasphemy, and adultery is grotesque even in this atheist's ears.

    Nor is violence confined to religion; the atheistic Communists of the 20th Century Soviet Union and China surpassed, for sheer body count, anything the Muslims have perpetrated.

    And what do you think she has to say about them? Did you ask?

    Yes, she does not take every sentence to condemn every barbarism known to the history of mankind. I guess that makes her worse than Hitler. Burn her! BURN!

    Most Asinine Reason article ever.

  • Calidissident||

    She wishes to suppress the freedom of religion and expression of other people. Or did you gloss over that?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    I think we're dealing with Culture War politics.

    To the neocons, it's Squishy Anti-American Liberals Apologizing for Terrorists *versus* the Noble Truth-Teller Who Exposes Islamic Wickedness.

    To many atheists, it's a matter of Political Correctness *versus* Courageous Truth-Teller who Exposes Organized Religion.

    Neither group necessarily endorses her ideas about shutting down Islamic schools, but the key is she's on the right Team, and Brandeis is on the other Team.

  • Azathoth!!||

    I think most recognise her comments about shutting down jihadist madrassas as rhetoric. As starting points for conversations she thinks are important.

    She doesn't have the power to close schools, it's not even a major focus of her writings.

  • avocats||

    Yes, the religious "freedom" to mutilate and murder girls and women. How oppressive of her.

  • JohnD||

    You are a fool. She wants to suppress religious teachings that teach little kids to hate Jews and to murder non Muslims.

  • JohnD||

    My comment was directed to Calidissident.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    “Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.”
    ― Ayaan Hirsi Ali

    'Nuff said?

  • BigT||

    "Most Asinine Reason article ever."

    You must be new here.

  • Free Society||

    Why can't we eradicate Islam by exposing the fallacies of theism? One need not use government to extinguish barbarism. The marketplace of ideas works much better, let the good idea rise to the top unimpeded.

  • Duke||

    "We account the Scriptures of God to be the most sublime philosophy. I find more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane history whatsoever...No sciences are better attested than the religion of the Bible."

    Sir Isaac Newton

  • Free Society||

    So a guy that lived over 300 years ago was a religious chap. And......?

  • juris imprudent||

    You can't even dissuade a proggie - whose mind is allegedly free of the taint of religious dogma.

    Bwhahahahahahahahaha

  • Locke||

    In my experience the faithful don't respond well to reason.

  • Locke||

    (Drink!)

  • avocats||

    I believe the bulk of the reaction was due to the hypocrisy of the Brandeis administrators. They announced, then they retracted, claiming not to have known of the speaker's past writings. Embarrassing, if true; hypocritical beyond belief, if not.

  • Michael P||

    Ira Stoll really beat the hell out of that straw man! Contra the subheadline, I don't think any notable conservative has claimed that Hirsi Ali had her speech suppressed in general. The closest argument, which Stoll did nothing to rebut, is that it was merely stifled as thoughtcrime in the augustly progressive halls of academia.

    Did Stoll really mean to suggest that "unreformed" Christians today hold the same attitudes towards minorities that informed the pogroms of the middle ages, or still believe that Christians should invade the Holy Land to preserve it for their faith? Or was that line intended to just inflame emotions while running from Hirsi Ali's argument?

    Is the debate really whether she deserves the honor that was offered, or is it whether Brandeis acted in an irresponsible and dishonest fashion by inviting her and then retracting the offer, after she accepted but some of her critics started to whine, while mouthing a tolerance for philosophical differences?

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Props to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Her right to self-expression netted her an honorary degree boycott but she should wear this as a matter of course (and even pride) considering the scarcity of hard critiques on Islam that don't come from terrorism-obsessed security experts. The fact that Islam is strikingly uncivilized and brutal indicates it absolutely has remained mired in its own dark age of repression and violence.

    I refuse to tolerate dictatorship and vicious oppression and I hope Ayaan continues unabated in her tough stance on the Islam that refuses to modernize its intellectual constructs while suppressing its own mental giants of change.

  • Mike G||

    You don't have to agree with her, or think everything she said is right, to think that Brandeis acted like real dirtballs in inviting someone for a phony baloney degree, then blackening that person's reputation when you chicken out. I wish there was a breach of contract lawsuit in the offing here.

  • PersephoneK||

    Firstly, AHA's position is well established. Brandeis should have known exactly who they were inviting for an honorary degree and likely did. They only rescinded it upon complaints from those AHA criticises. Secondly, are you really surprised she wants to end Islam in all forms? She is an atheist and Muslim apostate. Typically one comes to that position by rejecting every aspect of religuon radical or not. You cannot equate every religion. Some have better ideas than others. A radical Jain for example just becomes more peaceful. Doctrines have meanings that shape behaviors. I seriously doubt AHA wants to eliminate all Muslims... Just the idea of Islam. Very different it seems that you've conflated the two. This is further evidenced by the same tired tactic of throwing out the whole "look at the murderous atheists out there." Find me an atheist who murdered in the name of atheism and then we can talk. Stalin... Pol Pot, Mao... Would have been murderous psychos no matter what because they were power hungry psychopaths, not because they were atheists. But I can name gazillions who have murdered specifically in the name of religion. AHA is an inspiring woman whose story should be known by many. You do not have to agree with her position on Islam to see that she comes to it by personal experience worth learning from. Brandeis was wrong.

  • Azathoth!!||

    But I can name gazillions who have murdered specifically in the name of religion.

    Please, do so.

  • Paul A'Barge||

    Ira Stoll, may all the shame of the universe rest heavily on your shoulders.

    You deserve it, pal.

  • SutureSelf||

    Ira Stoll: "It's not as if Islam is the only violent religion...[n]or is violence confined to religion..."

    This is a non sequitur. It betrays a fallacy of logic. If I claim that a Granny Smith apple is good, it matters not that a Rome apple may also be good or that foods that are not apples at all may be good. If your argument is that Granny Smiths are not good, raising the other issues will not advance it.

    Mr. Stoll's invocation of "Ramaz, an Orthodox Jewish day school in Manhattan" is equally irrelevant. I'll allow that I may personally be ill-informed, but I've never heard of Ramaz, therefore could have formed no opinion on it one way or the other. Regardless, if I had known of it, then whether I would have objected to its reversal on Rashid Khalidi would have no bearing on the nature of the Brandeis decision.

    Also, to establish a baseline for his comments, Mr. Stoll quotes John Podhoretz, William Kristol and the WSJ. Yet the meat of his essay addresses only the WSJ comment by way of rejecting it with the comment, "the key issue here isn’t whether ideas are being suppressed..."

  • novaculus||

    Stoll needs to read the Koran and study the history of 14 centuries of Islam, the bloody barbarism and sectarian wars it has inspired across the centuries and the violence, hatred and oppression it inspires today.

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali is right about Islam. It is the brutal, racist, misogynistic and oppressive blueprint for world domination created by a sixth century barbarian warlord. Only those who for reasons of their own refuse to open their eyes fail to see it for what it is.

  • Patti||

    The honorary degree was pulled because the terrorist front group CAIR whined and the university administration capitulated. Anyone with more than two brain cells would know that. Only question now remaining is does Ira have 1 or 0 brain cells? Guess the left does have a monopoly on imbecility...

  • Sprocket||

    Rather interesting to see what Brandeis' collective thoughts are about what ideas are "bad ones", versus those that are deserving of "quasi-endorsement". http://www.volokh.com/posts/1146574087.shtml

  • D. Malcolm Carson||

    What gets me is that Brandeis couldn't be bothered to spell out these "past statements" that were so offensive. I think Hirsi has at least a colorable argument that the issue is Islam itself and not "radical Islam". In the battle against Communism, was the fight against "radical Communism" or was the ideology itself the issue?

  • Dennis Webb||

    "But when Brandeis decides it's not in its institutional interest to throw its prestige behind that particular endeavor..."

    But that's just the point. Brandeis DID decide it was in their interest, that is until the Council on Americam-Islamic Relations got involved, a fact you neatly avoid mentioning.

    The charge of COWARDICE stands!

  • BeamMeUp||

    "The atheistic Communists of the 20th Century Soviet Union and China surpassed, for sheer body count, anything the Muslims have perpetrated." The Communists were Communists first. They were atheists only because Marx, Lenin and Mao said they should be.

    "It's not as if Islam is the only violent religion." Let's not forget about the censorship, inquisitions, crusades, and Europe's long history of anti-semiticism in the name of Christianity.

    Brandeis was free to do what it did. No government was involved here, so there are no violations of First Amendment freedoms. And everyone else is just as free to support or criticize Brandeis.

    Still, my advice to Brandeis is not to kowtow to groups that don't like any criticism of Islam, especially those that turn a blind eye to the suppression of women as well as censorship done in the name of Islam.

    Religion should be a private matter. History and current events are too full of the violence and loss of freedom done in the name of religion.

  • BeamMeUp||

    I wonder how Brandeis would react if a student published those Danish cartoons of Mohammed in one of the student publications.

  • kevrob||

    The Marxist (or Marxist-Leninist or Marxist-Leninist-Maoist etc. ad infinitum) belief in dialectical materialism is as much a mystical belief as that in reincarnation*, as evinced in another great world religion that does not require belief in a god, Buddhism.

    Not all religion is theistic.

    Kevin R

    * or UFOs, or Deros, or Thetans......

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