But of course there are people who are delighted that Brandeis University decided to publicly shame Ayaan Hirsi Ali by withdrawing its already announced award of an honorary degree. One of them is Duke University’s Muslim chaplain Imam Abdullah Antepli. He has a piece at the Huffington Post rejoicing at Brandeis’s clumsy and insulting move.
He tells us he was shocked by Brandeis’s decision to honor Ayan Hirsi Ali, and that he was all the more shocked because of Brandeis’s wonderful record of commitment to equality, diversity, dialogue and social justice.
Ok wait a second hang on. What about Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s record of commitment to equality, diversity, dialogue and social justice? Does that go for nothing?
Look. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, like a lot of people, thinks Islam does not have a fabulous record of commitment to equality, diversity, dialogue and social justice. That’s the issue here. It’s not a matter of Brandeis liking equality, diversity, dialogue and social justice, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali not liking it. It’s a matter of Hirsi Ali seeing a massive tension between Islam and equality, which many people prefer to conceal or deny. It’s deceptive to pretend that all the concern for equality and social justice is on the side that hates Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
But that is how Antepli sets up his case.
[Brandeis] is one of the most diverse and welcoming campuses in the U.S. where all minorities thrive, including, and especially, Muslims on its campus. Before many other universities, Brandeis had and still has so many Muslim students, faculty members, administrators and a Muslim Chaplain.
How on earth could this university make such a move to endorse Ali, who is a professional Islamophobe and has a deeply troubling and destructive track record of publicly expressing hateful views of Islam and Muslims? For those who do not know who Ali is, she is one of several ex-Muslims whose souls were deeply scarred by the way they experienced Islam and various local cultural practices in their own life. She and others like her later found themselves spokespeople and poster children of those who have passionately promoted the “Clash of Civilizations” theory between Islam and the West since early 1990s.
All these Ayan Hirsi Ali’s needed to do was generalize their tragic and heart-wrenching personal experiences to the entire world of Islam and Muslims to verify and validate the demonic and monstrous images of this faith and its followers that these “Clash” dreamers have been championing.
He wants us to think that Hirsi Ali’s experience of Islam was peculiar and not generalizable, but that’s bullshit. There’s an abundant record documenting just how generalizable it is.
Having said all of this, I firmly and unequivocally support Ali and her supporters’ freedom to say whatever they want to say. I despise censorship and believe in the sanctity of freedom of speech. I also find Muslim hypersensitivity over criticism of Islam to be foolish and immature. The problem is, simply put, why a university with outstanding moral values would put a kosher seal of endorsement on hate, de-legitimization, dehumanization and exclusion and contradict herself with its core values?
Thank God and to all those who were involved. The story took admirable turns after it became public. Brandeis’ community and friends of Brandeis turned this potentially disastrous and destructive scandal into an admirable and exemplary teaching moment for all. Numerous Brandeis faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors and community members fiercely protested the University’s decision and demanded for it to be rescinded. So many others from all around the country joined in support of the protest and signed petitions.
Brandeis’ decision-makers admirably moved quickly to correct this mistake and withdrew their decision to award the honorary degree to Ali.
He can’t do both. He can’t say he firmly and unequivocally supports Ali and her supporters’ freedom to say whatever they want to say and say Brandeis did the right thing by withdrawing the honor. Not giving her the honor in the first place is one thing, but giving it and then taking it back is quite quite another.
This mid-course correction is admirable, worthy of applause and exemplary for all, but especially, Muslims all around the world. This decision sets a moral standard for all of us in how not to turn each other’s renegades into heroes in our communities.
Renegades?? Just call her an apostate or a traitor and be done with it. People are allowed to change their minds, and yes, actually, we do get to pay special attention to that and rejoice at it. We can also frown at it and regret it if it’s a change from something we endorse to something we despise. If someone leaves the Catholic church, I rejoice; if someone converts to Catholicism, I scowl. Either way I don’t call anyone a “renegade” – that’s a revolting concept. It’s a part of the world view of Islam that critics of Islam particularly dislike: the notion that you are forbidden to change your mind.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Brandeis University, President Frederick Lawrence and all others who are behind this exemplary moral act. Thank you for not damaging already fragile, Jewish-Muslim relations any further. Thank you for not pulling the rug from under the feet of people who are admirably trying to repair the relationship and bridge the gap between these divided communities. As my Jewish brothers and sisters say, “Yashar Koach!” Well done, hats off to all of you and thank you.
There’s the thuggish note again. “Thank you for not damaging already fragile, Jewish-Muslim relations any further.” “Nice little place you got here, shame if something was to happen to it.”
This piece of dreck was originally published by the Duke Chronicle. Apparently the Huffington Post liked it enough to ask to republish it. Epithet deleted, Huffington Post.