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When will colleges return to era of free speech & honest debate?

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

Are many of the halls of academia filled with cowards and appeasers? Brandeis University appears to be exhibit one. Perhaps Brandeis University is too stuck on the Sandra Fluke, "War on Women," "give me free contraceptives" saga to understand how unconscionable their act of cowardice and appeasement is to most Americans.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somalian woman, born into a Muslim family, now teaches at Harvard. She is a courageous woman and perhaps the most fearless and outspoken advocate for women in the Islamic world. While growing up as a Muslim girl in Somalia, she suffered genital mutilation, horrible "honor" crimes and had to flee from a forced marriage. One of Brandeis's founding principles mentions their belief in the "spirit of free expression." That principle is now on life support as a result of their rescinding of the invitation of Hirsi Ali to receive an honorary degree at their graduation ceremony. CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) marched in, frothing at the mouth while screaming "Islamophobia" until the President of Brandeis, cowering in politically correct fear, meekly acquiesced.

Ali was also involved the the documentary, "Honor Diaries." A moving tribute to nine brave Muslim women who have come forward to tell their stories of savage brutality brought upon them and other females, including girls as young as nine forced to marry men — a coercion called rape in civilized societies. The documentary also praises moderate Muslims. Nevertheless, CAIR again reared its ugly head and screamed "Islamophobia." The universities of Michigan and Illinois, trembling in apparent fear, have canceled their showing of this award-winning documentary.

Though Ali is also an advocate for gay rights and is pro-choice, the feminists have viciously attacked her and tried to de-legitimize her, reports Kirsten Powers, a liberal columnist for USA Today and the Daily Beast. She goes on to say that Anne Rice can quit Christianity and call the Catholic Church hostile and immoral, which is her right in a country so enamored with freedom of speech. Yet a former Muslim is somehow not accorded that same right. How does this juxtaposition grab you?

The leaders of Islam are all men and so according to the Koran, women must acquiesce to their every desires and have no rights. Thus Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who suffered intense abuse at the hands of male Muslims, is not allowed to criticize the Muslim faith, even in this country. So who does liberal academia and the feminists go after? Why Ali of course, while seemingly agreeing and enforcing the misogyny of the male Muslim leaders. Is that not progressive paradox-ism at it's most disgraceful? It is certainly incongruous, hateful, feckless and absurd in the extreme.

I will conclude this shameful moment in the history of an increasingly intolerant and less enlightened college scene with a quote from Jeffrey Herf, history professor at the University of Maryland, who received his Ph.D. from Brandeis in 1981. "That the president of a university that was founded by Jews in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust, should have rescinded an honor to a woman who has had the courage to attack the most important source of Jew hatred in the world today is a disgraceful act and a failure of leadership. Instead of appeasing intolerance in your faculty, you should have taken this moment to reaffirm the values for which Brandeis has stood for so long and reconfirm the place of universities as models of tolerance and enlightenment in our troubled society".

It would be nice if this was just an aberration within our hallowed halls of academia. What will it take to get our universities to return to their position as beacons of free speech and honest debate? That would be the core aspects of college life that have been their hallmarks for so long. It would be so great if Professors Maloof and Cracraft could agree with me on this one critical point, by expressing their shock and dismay at this apparent loss of moral and intellectual integrity at Brandeis and other universities.

Russ Wiles