Thursday, April 10, 2014

Et tu, Brandeis

Brandeis University was founded in the aftermath of the Holocaust. A non-sectarian Jewish university it’s mission was to promote learning, but especially to keep Jewish learning alive.

Having been founded at a time when the best American private universities and colleges were using a quota system to limit the number of Jewish students, Brandeis was directed toward those who were excluded because of their religion.

Recently, Brandeis announced its list of honorees for this year’s commencement. Among those chosen to receive an honorary doctorate was the intrepid defender of women’s rights, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She was also designated as the commencement speaker.

Now, as is already well known, Brandeis has caved to Islamist pressure and has rescinded the offer. The university declared that Hirsi Ali could not represent its values, apparently because she has strongly condemned Islamic practices like honor killings, female genital mutilation and wife beating. Of course, she has also inveighed against Islamist efforts to shut down free and open discussion of that religion’s illiberal principles.

Implicit in the Islamist efforts to stifle free speech is the threat of terror. The “religion of peace” imposes its values on other people by threatening violence.

Mark Steyn explains:

… in this instance, Brandeis University is stiffing someone who's black, feminist and from Somalia. Which makes their decision the most explicit recognition yet that, in the hierarchy of identity-group politics, Islam trumps everything, including race and gender.

According to Brandeis, Hirsi Ali had committed a thought crime by denouncing Islam, and especially its will to oppress women.

Keep in mind, she herself suffered genital mutilation when she was five. She fled her native Somalia because she refused to be part of an arranged marriage. When she and her friend Theo Van Gogh began to militate against Islamist misogyny in the Netherlands he was murdered on the street and she was placed under armed guard and eventually forced to flee the nation.

Steyn describes her life:

She lives under armed guard and was forced to abandon the Netherlands because quite a lot of people want to kill her. And not in the desultory behead-the-enemies-of-Islam you-will-die-infidel pro forma death-threats-R-us way that many of us have perforce gotten used to in recent years: her great friend and professional collaborator [Theo van Gogh] was murdered in the streets of Amsterdam by a man who shot him eight times, attempted to decapitate him, and then drove into his chest two knives, pinning to what was left of him a five-page note pledging to do the same to her.

Bravely, Hirsi Ali has stood up to oppression and terror that she knows only too well. For her efforts, she has been denounced by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an organization that was founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood and that has been connected to Hamas.

CAIR seems to be in the business of suppressing any speech that any Muslim would deem offensive.

As it happened, Brandeis had no problem offering an honorary doctorate to a notable anti-Semite, South African Bishop Desmond Tutu in 2000.

Alan Dershowitz explained the extent of Tutu’s anti-Semitism:

Bishop Desmond Tutu is no mere anti-Zionist (though Martin Luther King long ago recognized that anti- Zionism often serves as a cover for deeper anti-Jewish bigotry). He has minimized the suffering of those killed in the Holocaust. He has attacked the "Jewish"--not Israeli--"lobby" as too "powerful" and "scar[y]." He has invoked classic anti-Semitic stereotypes and tropes about Jewish "arrogance", "power" and money. He has characterized Jews a "peculiar people," and has accused "the Jews" of causing many of the world's problems. He once even accused the Jewish state of acting in an "unChristian" way.

Now, Brandeis, an institution that was founded by Jews after the Holocaust has sided with an organization that has wanted to rid the Middle East of Jews.

Somehow, “cowardly” does not seem strong enough.

Brandeis has tried to rationalize its decision by saying that Hirsi Ali has failed to distinguish between Islamist terrorism and peace-loving Muslims.

Obviously, there is a distinction. And yet, how many Jews are living peacefully in Muslim countries today? How many Jews are living peacefully in Arab countries today?

And then, how many Muslims have stood up to defend Israel’s right to exist? How many Muslims have denounced Islamist anti-Semitism? How many Muslims have defended Ayaan Hirsi Ali?

In an effort to rationalize its submissiveness Brandeis has declared that Hirsi Ali’s blanket condemnation of Islam is unacceptable. She has, apparently, violated the principle of nuance, and must be silenced.

Would anyone disagree that honor killings and wife beating are compatible with American values? And, what could be more obvious than the Islamist will to repress speech.

CAIR cares nothing for the First Amendment. Now, apparently, Brandeis agrees.

Hirsi Ali offered her own opinion on the matter:

More deplorable is that an institution set up on the basis of religious freedom should today so deeply betray its own founding principles. The "spirit of free expression" referred to in the Brandeis statement has been stifled here, as my critics have achieved their objective of preventing me from addressing the graduating Class of 2014. Neither Brandeis nor my critics knew or even inquired as to what I might say. They simply wanted me to be silenced. I regret that very much.

Obviously, Hirsi Ali was not the only person designated to receive an honorary doctorate from Brandeis this year. Among the others so designated were New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson.

Wouldn't it be wonderful for Abramson to affirm her own commitment to free speech by declining the honorary degree? 

We can dream, can't we?


Sam L. said...

"Obviously, there is a distinction. And yet, how many Jews are living peacefully in Muslim countries today? How many Jews are living peacefully in Arab countries today?"

I presume you meant to switch Arabs and Jews in those last two sentences, and NOT to repeat yourself, although Arab and Muslim are not identical, but do overlap. Perhaps I'm over-thinking this.

Anonymous said...

"Having been founded at a time when the best American private universities and colleges were using a quota system to limit the number of Jewish students, Brandeis was directed toward those who were excluded because of their religion."

Jews seem to support racial quotas that favor blacks(including African immigrants who are descendants of people who captured and sold slaves to Europeans and Arabs) and even white Hispanics(whose descendants conquered the Americans and spread diseases to wipe out millions of natives) over Asian-Americans(even descendants of Chinese railroad workers who were treated terribly and of Japanese-Americans who were dispossessed and 'interned' on a massive scale) on the notion that Asians are over-represented in college campuses.

Since Jews have no problem with using affirmative action against Asians, why was it wrong for white gentiles to use it against Jews long ago when Jews were heavily over-represented in elite universities. After all, even with quotas that limited Jewish enrollment, Jews still were vastly over-represented in proportion to their overall population.

So, let me see. Affirmative action against Jews was wrong, but affirmative action against Asians is cool with most Jews.

Anonymous said...

"Obviously, there is a distinction. And yet, how many Jews are living peacefully in Muslim countries today? How many Jews are living peacefully in Arab countries today?"

Actually, Jews have been protected in Iran under the Islamic regime. Iranian Jews say they are left alone to be practice their Jewish faith, so they are obviously treated better than Palestinians are in the Occupied Territories.

Also, Arab Christians were protected under secular regimes like Hussein and Assad but have suffered greatly as the result of neocon-Zionist led destabilization of the Middle East.

Now, I am not defending Hussein who was a scumbag and mass killer or Assad who's a corrupt goon, but even so, Christians lived safely under their rule. Since American intervention in Iraq and support of fanatical rebels in Syria, however, countless Christians have been dispossessed, displaced, raped, robbed, and murdered... but the American media, controlled by Jews, seem not to care one bit.

Oh yeah, it's an 'antisemitic trope' to say Jews control the media, but some Jews disagree:

Lastango said...

Muslim groups are significant, reliable players in leftist coalitions.

Because power is all that matters, feminist leaders reject human rights for Muslim and other third-world women when that would clash with their overarching relationships with their political allies. So similarly with the feminist elite's lockstep adherence to the full spectrum of Marxist/leftist objectives and talking points.

One other thing: no one unwilling to do what the leadership of Brandeis University has done here would ever get into a key position in the university gulag. They would have been found out and screened out along the way.

Anonymous said...

Lastango is spot on with his "Because power is all that matters…" comment. I didn't know Muslims were so aligned with feminists in loving Nietzsche's "Will to Power." The two sides don't seem to have much in common. Yet in the ass-backward intellectual wasteland of today's academy, this makes perfect sense. It's all about aggrieved status. It's all about a common enemy. What else could create such strange allies?

Which brings us to the unsettling, dare I say disgusting, reality of identity politics. It's a huge race for the bottom as the most victimized minority around. Anonymous 4/10/2014 at 10:28 AM seems to be promoting the new game show "Who Suffered Most?" that's going to air on the History Channel soon. After all, as long as we all keep scorecards, we'll get along much better. The common elements across the entire hyphenated victim spectrum are (a) hectoring for handouts and subsidies; (b) special carve-outs for selection and status; and (c) deep indoctrination in the ways of victimhood. Result: dependence, false hope, and despair. This curriculum is richly supplemented with the marginalization of those group members who dare assimilate. Otherwise, everything's fine in America.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali has a compelling story of survival and escape from the brutal submission Islam demands of women, within a rigid social system that strips them of all dignity, and is incompatible with even the most primitive standard of human decency. Yet this goes on in the Islamoghettos of Europe as much as it does in the Middle East and Muslim Africa. These women are left with no hope, and the West remains silent, lest it be blown up. That's the real scandal. The plight of these women is ignored. And the American Left knows it doesn't have a leg to stand on about "global injustice and persecution" so long as they cower to the threat of Islamist violence, whether overt or implied.

The absolute relativism of the last 30 years in the American academy has left us in this predicament. We're told we can't take a stand because it's "ethnocentric," yet we can't stand idly by while women are brutalized, either. That's quite a pickle. Speaking about the Holocaust, how can we say "That's the way they do things in Muslim countries, who am I to judge?" as a reason for doing nothing; while indignantly chastising a soldier who says "I was just following orders"? How do you reconcile these two positions? How is that virtuous? It's a misunderstanding of power, justice and moral agency. This is the idiocy of today's academy, and they have no one but themselves to blame for the intellectual laziness that has brought them to this point of cowardice. That's probably why "self-esteem" is so important: they need it.

This is why the "War on Women" ends at the subject of the treatment of women in Islamic countries. Muslim advocacy groups like CAIR receive special status… they're more equal than others. Best not to irk them with such subjects.

Such is the case with Brandeis. Of course they caved to those who howl the loudest. But it's not just the howling, is it? No, no no… it's the implicit threat behind it all. What happens to you if you publicly question radical Islam? You get to hire a bodyguard. CAIR is a racket, staffed by shills who want to shut up people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Yet they can't counter her story, can they? They can't shut Ali up, because she's a dead woman walking and doesn't give a %#@$ what they say anymore. So they pressure Brandeis. Islam is the Arabic word for submission. Ali wrote the film "Submission," for which Theo Van Gogh was assassinated. What happens if you don't submit? Brandeis didn't want to find out, and took a pass. That's the courage of today's academy.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I politely offered my comments in English. It would be kind if you shared what "shonde for the goyim" meant in translation. After all, we don't all "get it." Help, please. Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Same old, same old.

Sam L. said...

Shonde: Harm, disgrace, shame.

Goyim--those not Jews (I knew this one.

Anonymous said...

Ali is a selfish witch. She broke up the marriage of Niall Ferguson who was married with three children. If that is her idea of how western values are superior to other cultures, then excuse me if
I'm not a fan.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 4/12/14 at 7:00 AM:

I knew this one was coming: Ali is a tramp, a home-wrecker, a slut, etc. Heck, she's so selfish, she probably got Theo Van Gogh killed, too, eh? Golly-gee-willickers. What a horrible woman.

SHE broke up Niall Ferguson's marriage, did she? And what did Niall do? He has an ample ego of his own, to be sure. But let's ignore that. Instead, let's pretend he was an innocent, an unwilling limy accomplice who was duped into falling in love with her. Splendid. She's the exotic post-Islamist seductress. Thanks for connecting all the dots to the REAL issue in the post: adultery. The rest of her life is inconsequential.

Please. If there's one thing you cannot accuse her of, it's a lack of courage. She's nobody's fool.

You know, I considered putting something in my earlier post about her relationship with Ferguson, saying I'm not thrilled about their affair/infidelity. So now the cat is out of the bag: she's "impure" (and so is he). Is this the reason she shouldn't be allowed to speak at Brandeis?!?!?! Wanna know why I didn't mention it? It was irrelevant to the original post. I'm not a fan of some of her (and Niall's) personal choices, either, but let's please be serious in light of the true threat. She's not being refused the podium because of hanky-panky, she's being prohibited because she makes Islamists uncomfortable, which makes the condescending multiculturalists squirm.

To close, let's be clear: Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an atheist, not a Wiccan. If you're going to traipse into her personal life, it'd be nice if you got that part right.


Stuart Schneiderman said...

Well said, Tip. I think we can hear the desperation in those who would slander her. Obviously, they have nothing to say. It must be awkward to try to silence a woman who is fighting against FGM and honor killings... but, then again, who knows?

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Stuart. Let me be clear: I don't hold Ayaan Hirsi Ali as a saint. Read any biography or autobiography and the problems of such a standard become evident. After all, purity is the enemy of the good. All I am saying is that a vocal, influential constituency within academia is both Leftist and totalitarian. It seeks to control thought, and my understanding is that academic freedom, reinforced by tenure, has always been in place to prevent thought control. So once again,we arrive at the unfortunate nature of the human condition. Ali's susceptibility to this same condition in no way compromises the validity and relevance of her views, which are both philosophical and empirical. She's no lightweight. More importantly, academic freedom is meaningless while censorship is tolerated on the basis of a non-thinking euphemism like "Islamophobia," which is even more pathetic when you consider that she LIVED IT. It would seem "desperation" is just the beginning of the problems within the intellectual atmosphere at Brandeis. And at Dartmouth, given the recent silliness going on there, too.