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Apr 11 2014

Further thoughts on Brandeis

And another thing.

Those two core sentences in Brandeis’s statement taking back the honorary degree it had announced it was awarding to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

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. That said, we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.  For all concerned, we regret that we were not aware of these statements earlier.

What’s this “we cannot overlook” shit? They already had overlooked it. Putting it in that stuffy self-righteous reproachful way makes it look as if Hirsi Ali had pulled a fast one. It puts the blame on her. It bleats at her because Brandeis fucked up. It’s a very sly, covert, manipulative way of putting her in the wrong instead of itself. It’s an object lesson in how to be a lying sniveling backstabbing bureaucrat.

And then the last sentence carefully avoids taking any responsibility, let alone blame. That all by itself is bullshit, independent of what you think of Hirsi Ali. If you’re going to give someone an honor, then do your homework before you go public with the honor. Once you go public with the honor, it’s too late.

And then there’s the fact that it doesn’t say what these “past statements” were, leaving room for people’s lurid imaginations to go to work, and also leaving room for people who can’t stand a word of criticism of Islam to smear her even more than they already have. Brandeis basically trussed her up and handed her over to her enemies, some of whom are violent. Did Brandeis pause for even a second to remember Theo Van Gogh?

In this sense, what Brandeis did was quite similar to what Channel4 News and BBC Newsnight did to Maajid Nawaz by refusing to show the Jesus and Mo cartoon: they gave aid and comfort to the people who were threatening Maajid. Brandeis has given new oxygen and respectability to people who threaten Hirsi Ali, people who would kill her if they could.

Why did they do it? I actually don’t know; I can’t figure it out. If they knew enough about her to want to give her the award, they knew enough to make them refuse to be intimidated by CAIR. I really don’t know why CAIR’s bullying was enough to make them cave.

6 comments

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  1. 1
    Blanche Quizno

    Here’s still hoping the other four worthies will refuse their honors unless she is reinstated as a fellow honoree.

  2. 2
    johnthedrunkard

    “I really don’t know why CAIR’s bullying was enough to make them cave.”
    Because Israel, because multi-culti.

    I’ve cringed at some of Ali’s associations too. Her engagement with far-right and Xian types that I wouldn’t want to touch with a barge-pole. Brandeis’ actions show that she may well be justified in these. Rather like Churchill and Roosevelt nervously standing beside Stalin.

    The evils that Ali opposes, and the values that she stands for, are real, and present real threats to humanity. To appreciate this, and witness the cringing, snivelling cowardice of Brandeis, and the vapid cheerleading of HuffPost makes it hard to criticize.

  3. 3
    Ophelia Benson

    Yes but those aren’t good enough reasons given the circumstances. They would be plenty good enough reasons not to give her the degree in the first place – as would almost anything, really, because there’s no duty or obligation to give anyone an honorary degree – but they’re not good enough to explain a gross public insult and admission of blundering incompetent stupidity combined with cowardice at best.

  4. 4
    Kevin Alexander

    Was it the pressure from CAIR or something worse that they caved to? I can well imagine Brandeis’ lawyers telling the administration that their insurance might not cover whatever Ali’s more thuggish enemies might do.
    It’s not that they don’t remember Theo Van Gogh but that they do.

  5. 5
    Ophelia Benson

    Well…again, wouldn’t they have thought of that before they announced the honorary degree?

  6. 6
    alqpr

    “Because Israel”??!

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