“Hats off to Brandeis University!”

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.



  1. Blanche Quizno says

    She’s nothing but a life-support system for a vagina. What else would you expect??

  2. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    As my Jewish brothers and sisters say, “Yashar Koach!”

    1. Yeah, that’s about the last thing you’ll hear me say to Brandeis right now.

    2. Yashar Koach is gendered. While persons of any gender might say it, exclusivising the the masculine form to render invisible any women at Brandeis in decision making positions that played any role in the retraction of an honor to a woman who has protested the religious oppression of women in women’s local religious communities comes across as, shall we say, more than a tad bit Freudian?

    3. Yashar Koach is meant as congratulations for completing a mitzvah which requires some courage or strength to complete (frequently reading in front of a congregation for the first time, assuming that it can be nerve-wracking, or successfully completing one’s responsibilities as a cantor for the first time [or the first time since becoming a cantor that the speaker has heard you], etc.). Exactly which commandment of the Torah – there are 613, be specific – requires rescinding an honorary degree offered to Hirsi Ali?

  3. Seth says

    Oh, and also, isn’t it a bit rich that a Muslim cleric would use the phrase ‘hats off’?

    Oh, right, he probably thinks it’s only women who have to wear the hats. And Ayaan is a woman who refuses to wear a hat, so she’s worthy of his opprobrium.

    Got it.

  4. says

    I just finished reading your series of posts about Ayaan Hirsi Ali, so I’ll just put my thoughts here although they could probably go under any of them.

    No one seems to have asked what message this sends to the female students at Brandeis. “Your oppression is nothing to us as long as it is justified by religion,” is the message I would be hearing. It brings back to me a story a friend of mine told me about why she was a feminist. Her mother attended Brandeis around 1960. When she came home from school after her first semester, her parents wanted to hear all about what she had done there. She started talking about her classes. Her parents stopped her, “We didn’t send you to school to get an education. We sent you to find a husband. Tell us, have you met any nice Jewish boys?” Her mother was disappointed, but she folded to the pressure and was married shorty before graduation.

    Although I don’t agree with all of Hirsi Ali’s politics, I read her biography shortly after it came out and it’s hard not to admire her and her continuing insistence on speaking out. I can’t imagine how it must have felt to her when Theo Van Gogh was murdered. Stuck on his body with a knife was a note addressed to Hirsi Ali. If you put that scene in a movie, you’d be criticized for it being over the top. The note called for her to be silenced forever. In rescinding their honorary degree, they are doing the bidding of Van Gogh’s murderer.

    I don’t see any problem with calling her a renegade. The title of her autobiography in French was Ma vie rebelle, “my rebel life.” Native Americans who went “off reservation” were called renegades. There’s nothing shameful about being a renegade when the group you are leaving is unjust or oppressive.

    Antepli says, “she is one of several ex-Muslims whose souls were deeply scarred by the way they experienced Islam….” Exactly, and that is why she has the legitimacy to speak about it. Why would he not want to side with her, rather than against her, in making sure that no one is ever again scarred by Islam in this way?

    Finally, I would just like to note that they are still giving an honorary degree to Geoffry Canada. Does that mean that are putting a “kosher seal of endorsement” on anti-unionism and charter schools?

  5. The Great God Pan says

    It’s not just imams. Noted “faitheist” Chris Stedman and his Twitter pals were also enthusiastic about the news.

  6. Silentbob says

    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?

    So they put a halal seal of endorsement on it instead. 😉

  7. chrislawson says

    Deepak, you should care about this even if you don’t like Ali’s views. The issue isn’t that we all love what Ali says — her association with the Cato Institute is toxic IMHO — but be that as it may, she had her invitation to speak and honorary degree withdrawn because of pressure from a number of religious leaders who want to protect their beliefs from criticism. That’s the issue.

  8. Omar Puhleez says

    Deepak @#5:

    “Its hard to get worked up about someone with views like muslims should become christians
    That and the stuff on the previous thread about Hirsi Ali wanting Islam militarily repressed.
    If those are her views, and from the Reason article that would appear to have been the case in 2007, then I disagree with her on both points.
    But that is as far as it goes. I find no more justification there for stripping her of her honorary Brandeis degree than I would in the case of someone warning of danger they see looming when most others are complacent. (Say for example, Winston Churchill warning Britain of the looming danger of war in Europe in the late 1930s..)
    Islam is a set of ideas, and history abounds with futile efforts to crush ideas by military means. On that, old Chairman Mao was right: support what the enemy opposes. And what does Islam oppose? Liberalism, democracy, equal rights for women, etc, etc.
    Having lived for short times in two countries where Islam rules (ie Malaya, Iran) I can say that I have a close observer’s view of life under fascism. Because in my view, Islam is a (mild) form of fascism. And I agree that as a social doctrine, it should be openly and rigourously opposed.
    NB The clerics have got that one covered: it is illegal in all Islamic countries I know of to openly oppose Islam. Penalty serious.

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