Monday, May 12, 2014

The War on Freedom: Honor Killings and Book Burnings

Ralph Peters has a few choice words for the Hollywood celebrities who are—correctly—boycotting the Bel Air Hotel because its owner, the Sultan of Brunei has instituted Sharia law in his sultanate.

Col. Peters remarks:

Those same stars, directors and producers who are switching hotels in Beverly Hills wouldn’t dream about making films about the vast misery imposed on women (and plenty of boys and men, for that matter) by Islam’s violent regression in our time.

In Hollywood, attacking Christianity or Judaism is cool. But all those “brave” filmmakers are terrified of offending Islamist activists. Instead of films about al Qaeda’s atrocities, we get movies that trash our military for “crimes” against the terrorists.

How can our elites ignore the immeasurable suffering inflicted on Muslims in the name of Islam? Al Qaeda and its franchises have slaughtered far more Muslims than they have Westerners. Don’t those victims count?

He continues that Hollywood outrage is highly selective:

Our elites even do their best to stifle the voices of inconvenient victims. Who in Hollywood stuck up for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a victim of Islamists, when she was prevented from telling her story on-campus? That was an intellectual honor killing.

Then, he develops his major concept: that Islam finds itself in the midst of an internal war between those who wish to modernize and those who wish to return to the past. Peters believes that those Westerners who are coddling the extremists and fanatics, by caving in to their demands, are impeding progress.

Surely, the issue is freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of thought and freedom to pursue the truth, no matter where it leads. And, of course, it’s also about free enterprise, or the lack of same in much of the Muslim world.

Peters explains:

An entire civilization is failing before our eyes. Cultures whose values just don’t work in the 21st century are damning themselves to stagnation by oppressing the female half of their populations (and repressing the males, too). From Morocco to Pakistan, no state other than Israel is competitive in any significant field of human endeavor. In 2014, the Muslim Middle East not only cannot build a competitive automobile, but can’t produce a competitive bicycle.

It isn’t just Hollywood, of course. This morning Harvard Professor Ruth Wisse wrote an op-ed this morning about how radical thinkers are hard at work closing the minds of America’s college students.

Much of the impulse comes from aggrieved Muslim students. You can offer any calumny you wish against Western civilization, but if you speak ill of Islam, you are looking for trouble.

In her words:

As one [student] put it to me, "There's more faculty interest in climate control than in the Western canon." Multiculturalism guarantees that courses on Islam highlight all the good that can be said of Muhammad and the Quran, but there is no comparable academic commitment to reinvigorating the foundational teachings of American liberal democracy or to strengthening the legacy bequeathed to us by "dead white males."

If the attack on Ayaan Hirsi Ali at Brandeis was an honor killing, so was the attack, led by Muslim students, on Condoleezza Rice at Rutgers.

One would like to think that Wisse's student is exaggerating, but if faculty members refuse to teach the Western canon, refuse to expose students to the greatest thinkers and artists in Western civilization, they are following in the footsteps of totalitarian dictators.

Or better, if they believe that the only reason for teaching Shakespeare and Aristotle is to show how they represent male privilege, they are saying that we have nothing to learn from the great minds. Students come away understanding that they must have the correct disdain toward these thinkers if they want to receive good grades.

It is eerily reminiscent of Chairman Mao Zedong’s Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution, where all books were banned, except the little red book of the sayings of Chairman Mao himself.

But, the more chilling analogy is to the Nazi practice of burning books.

Totalitarian faculty members have discovered that banning books is far more effective than burning them. Or better, that teaching students that the great books have nothing to say to them is more effective than banning or burning books.

Today’s zealots have convinced students to ignore the wisdom of the past, to ignore the great ideas of past thinkers in the name of what they call social justice.

This is not going to end well.

[Addendum: An article on (via Maggie’s Farm) shows how the administration at Oberlin College suggested discussing certain works:

We are reading this work in spite of the author’s racist frameworks because his work was foundational to establishing the field of anthropology, and because I think together we can challenge, deconstruct, and learn from his mistakes.

Again, it is not about learning from an author’s work. It is not about discovering what he might teach us. It’s about discrediting the entirety of the work because of an offending remark or perspective.

Naturally, it involves deconstructing texts. It is not about what the texts might teach you but what you might do to the texts.

The greatest irony lies in the fact that the technique of deconstruction derived from the work of famed philosopher Martin Heidegger… a member of the German Nazi party, a man who could not, even after the war was over, recant his Nazi beliefs.]

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