Thursday, April 10, 2014

  • Thursday, April 10, 2014
  • Elder of Ziyon
From Fox News:

Brandeis University in Massachusetts announced Tuesday that it had withdrawn the planned awarding of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a staunch critic of Islam and its treatment of women, after protests from students and faculty.

The university said in a statement posted online that the decision had been made after a discussion between Ali and university President Frederick Lawrence.

"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," said the university's statement. "That said, we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University's core values."

Ali, a member of the Dutch Parliament from 2003 to 2006, has been quoted as making comments critical of Islam. That includes a 2007 interview with Reason Magazine in which she said of the religion, "Once it's 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."
David Bernstein at The Volokh Conspiracy (WaPo) points out a bit of hypocrisy:
A few years back, Brandeis University awarded an honorary degree to Tony Kushner. This was controversial because Brandeis is a Jewish-sponsored (but non-sectarian) university that has historically had very close ties to Israel. Indeed, the university’s namesake, Justice Brandeis, led the American Zionist movement for some time. Kushner, meanwhile, was not only known for his hostility to Israel in general, but for making inflammatory statements such as “The biggest supporters of Israel are the most repulsive members of the Jewish community,” a direct insult to Brandeis’s many faculty, students, alumni, and donors who are strong supporters of Israel.

Despite objections, Brandeis went ahead with the award, with the university president explaining:

Brandeis bestows honorary degrees as a means of acknowledging the outstanding accomplishments or contributions of individual men and women in any of a number of fields of human endeavor. Just as Brandeis does not inquire into the political opinions and beliefs of faculty or staff before appointing them, or students before offering admission, so too the University does not select honorary degree recipients on the basis of their political beliefs or opinions.
It is always treacherous to compare two situations because the analogy is never perfect. Kushner was anti-Zionist but for some reason nowadays that is not so much of an offense as being "Islamophobic."

 but I would submit that a more accurate comparison of someone that Brandeis awarded an honorary degree would be a famous Jew who made practically his entire career out of biting criticism of American Jews, a career that was so successful that he is now considered a demigod of American authors.

I am referring to Philip Roth, who received his honorary Brandeis degree in 1991.

Roth, it will be remembered, has written numerous books about how American Jewish men are sex-starved, shiksa-chasing hypocrites. Beyond that, one of his most notorious anti-Jewish works was "The Conversion of the Jews" where a schoolchild asks a basic question about religion that his clueless rabbi teacher cannot answer, resulting in a series of events where the kid forces the entire school to effectively convert to Christianity with a combination of his "logic" and threats to kill himself.

Between Roth's autobiographical critiques of American Jews and his absurdly naive critique of the fundamentals of Judaism, it can be argued that Roth is as critical of Jews and Judaism as Hirsi Ali is of Muslims and Islam.

I don't know if there was any controversy about Roth's award at all, the way there was about Kushner's. There is no doubt that he is a talented writer, and that is why he received his award - not because of his controversial views which people seem to have forgotten about between the '60s and the '90s.

But there is equally no doubt that Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an important campaigner for women's rights, especially in societies where women are not well protected. She has put her life on the line, quite literally, for her beliefs. That is a greater accomplishment, by far, than any novelist can claim.

Ali's criticisms of Islam are not simple-minded nor borne out of hate. She is not a bigot. The worst that can be said is that she overly generalizes, but given her life experiences, that is a small infraction.

Most of her criticisms of Islam are really about political Islam, where the Islamic nations (and groups of thugs in places like Europe) can threaten, coerce and even murder those who don't toe the line.  Muslims have skillfully managed to manipulate the West into being afraid of criticizing the immoral and unconscionable political aspects of Islam by conflating it with the (Western concept) religious aspects of Islam. Indeed, there is no daylight from within the Islamic framework between the two - Islam is as much political philosophy as it is a religion. As such, it can and must be criticized.

Simply put, Brandeis has once again caved to political correctness. Its claims about valuing all opinions and adhering to "core values" is proven to be a hollow sham.



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