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Apr 09 2014

Brandeis! You’re on the naughty stool

Holy shit. Brandeis has withdrawn an honorary degree for Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Brandeis University said in a statement that Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali would no longer receive the honorary degree, which it had planned to award her at the May 18 commencement.

That is shocking.

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.”

Brandeis, outside Boston in Waltham, Massachusetts, said it was not aware of Ali’s statements earlier.

That’s it? That’s what they’ve got?

I don’t agree with everything she says, much less her relationship with the Cato American Enterprise Institute, but that quotation seems like a very thin reason to withdraw an honorary degree a month before it was going to be awarded.

In 2007, Ali helped establish the AHA Foundation, which works to protect and defend the rights of women in the West from oppression justified by religion and culture, according to its website. The foundation also strives to protect basic rights and freedoms of women and girls. This includes control of their own bodies, access to an education and the ability to work outside the home and control their own income, the website says.

More than 85 of about 350 faculty members at Brandeis signed a letter asking for Ali to be booted off the list of honorary degree recipients. And an online petition created Monday by students at the school of 5,800 had gathered thousands of signatures from inside and outside the university as of Tuesday afternoon.

Her foundation works to protect and defend the rights of women in the West from oppression justified by religion and culture, so Brandeis first offered her the honorary degree and then snatched it back. Well shame on you, Brandeis. I don’t like that phrase, but it seems like the only one that fits here. Shame.

“This is a real slap in the face to Muslim students,” senior Sarah Fahmy, a member of the Muslim Student Association who created the petition, said of the honor before the university withdrew it.

Oh, please. It is not. Catholic students shouldn’t have a veto on critics of the Vatican and Muslim students shouldn’t have a veto on critics of Islam.

Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group, said, “It is unconscionable that such a prestigious university would honor someone with such openly hateful views.”

The organization sent a letter to Lawrence on Tuesday requesting that it drop its plans to honor Ali.

“This makes Muslim students feel very uneasy,” Joseph Lumbard, chairman of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, said in an earlier interview. “They feel unwelcome here.”

So Brandeis totally caved. Disgusting.

16 comments

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  1. 1
    thefemalearchetype

    I just saw this and thought I should send it to Ophelia. I’m really disappointed in Brandeis right now.

  2. 2
    Ophelia Benson

    Yeah. Just horrendous.

  3. 3
    Kaveh Mousavi

    Oh, we covered this at the same time. I got quite angry when I found out.

  4. 4
    Seth

    On the other hand, it kind of proves Ayaan’s point, in a way. Anyone who dares to speak out as an ex-Muslim is guilty of ‘hate speech’, and their very presence is offensive to Muslims (and the well-meaning lackeys who synonymise ‘Muslim’ with ‘Islamist’ and accuse any critic of Islam of being a racist).

  5. 5
    Sili

    “This is a real slap in the face to Muslim students

    Yay!

    said of the honor before the university withdrew it.

    Oh …
    Bother.

  6. 6
    quixote

    Ayaan is to me a person of unimaginable courage. She’s been fighting for the rights of the most voiceless since forever, right through the murder of her partner by Islamists, right through everything.

    The US Left couldn’t find it in them to talk to her out loud because it is, of course, way more important to spare the tender feelings of any Islamists than to worry about the most basic human rights for women.

    So she talked to the Right, which, for reasons of their own, is willing to put women ahead of Islamists. Not because they think women are human, of course.

    Now she’s been totally leper-ized by our so-called progressives. Because dumping on women is always good, Left or Right.

    We need a shitstorm about this like the one in Britain about separate-but-equal gender seating. Not that any amount of reason will help over here. The US loves their hot buttons too much.

  7. 7
    Kausik Datta

    This is shameful. I, too, don’t agree with everything that Ayaan Hirsi Ali says, but for a university to cave in to religiously motivated censorship demands is utterly disgusting and incompatible with the ethos of a university. As Ophelia writes, “Catholic students shouldn’t have a veto on critics of the Vatican and Muslim students shouldn’t have a veto on critics of Islam…” any more than a Hindu or Buddhist student should have a veto on the critics of their respective religions.

    By this disgraceful capitulation, Brandeis shows its ridiculous intolerance for any criticism of religion. Not only that, it has insulted and demeaned the great work that Ayaan’s foundation has done for restoring the rights of the women victims of religious and cultural oppression.

  8. 8
    iknklast

    I, too, don’t agree with everything that Ayaan Hirsi Ali says

    Of course, when I make agreeing with everything someone says a criterion for honor, then I would honor nobody. I have yet to find anyone that I agree with EVERYTHING they say. Yes, that includes Ophelia, and I’m sure that doesn’t bother anyone here, since we all value thinking for ourselves. In fact, I think it might be safe to say I don’t even agree with everything I’ve said, partially because my views have evolved over the years as I learned more about the world, and partially because I sometimes discuss a topic from several sides, saying conflicting things until I can sort out a complex issue – you know, thinking out loud. So I refuse to have my criteria for a person’s value include “I agree with everything you say”

  9. 9
    chrislawson

    iknlast, I the problem is that you have to expressly say that you don’t agree with everything someone says or some doofus is going to assume that you do and hack at you for it.

  10. 10
    RJW

    I don’t know anything about the Cato Institute but Ali’s description of Islam is accurate, followers of the ideology have indeed been at war with unbelievers for 1400 years.

    “This is a real slap in the face to Muslim students,” —and Muslims are superior, the Kuffars must understand that reality.

  11. 11
    Ophelia Benson

    Actually the American Enterprise Institute – I misremembered which right-wing think tank it was.

  12. 12
    RJW

    Support from the right is often the case.

    I’ve noticed that many of the websites that are critical of Islam are right-wing and usually pro-Zionist, the contemporary ‘left’ seems to have chickened out completely, with notable exceptions of course.

  13. 13
    Andrew B.

    Does this chastisement also include the withholding of dessert?

  14. 14
    Claire Ramsey

    Shameful of them. And so false. And so not about learning and being a goddamn university.

    What the fuck is wrong with people?

  15. 15
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @ ^ Claire Ramsey : Seconded by me.

    @4. Seth :

    On the other hand, it kind of proves Ayaan’s point, in a way. Anyone who dares to speak out as an ex-Muslim is guilty of ‘hate speech’, and their very presence is offensive to Muslims (and the well-meaning lackeys who synonymise ‘Muslim’ with ‘Islamist’ and accuse any critic of Islam of being a racist).

    Quoted for truth. Very well said.

    @12. RJW : Agreed here too – the political left wing his very disappointing here (& elsewhere) in its pandering to what is ironically the most extreme Right wing (major) religion of all. It baffles me and the under-current of anti-Semitism and victim blaming when it comes to the penchant for Israel bashing prominent on the political Left is downright scary.

    A lot of self-professed compassionate atheist Left-wingers need to take a good hard look at themselves in the mirror and reconsider where they stand and who they are standing with or against I think.

    Hint : If you’re defending Islamism against the likes of Ayaan Hirsi Ali you are with about 99.999% certainty in the wrong.

  16. 16
    Pierce R. Butler

    quixote @ # 6: The US Left couldn’t find it in them to talk to her out loud because it is, of course, way more important to spare the tender feelings of any Islamists …

    Her unflinching support of neo-imperialism and the 1% had nothing to do with any of this, of course – only your imaginary excuse to go liberal-bashing matters, and to hell with the facts.

  1. 17
    Link Round-Up #2 » On the Margin of Error

    […] Benson has done a fantastic job of covering this issue. From breaking the news, to calling out the stupid Brandeis statement, to the doctoring of their press release statement, […]

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