Politics & Policy

It’s Islamist Censorship

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
That, as much as political correctness, is what drove Brandeis to cancel Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s degree.

On paper, Brandeis is one of America’s finest universities. Small and academically rigorous, it aims to cultivate intellectually curious citizens — graduates who will expand the frontiers of knowledge in their pursuit of “emet” (the Hebrew word for “truth”).

On Tuesday, however, by canceling the award of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali — a prominent campaigner for female rights in the Islamic world — Brandeis shamed its reputation.

Brandeis claims that it issued the revocation after finding out that Hirsi Ali had made “statements” about Islam that are “inconsistent” with the university’s “core values.”

#ad#Cough.

Let’s be clear: Hirsi Ali’s sentiments are no mystery. Indeed, her public profile is defined by her critiques of political Islam. So we’re left with two possible explanations for Brandeis’s decision. Either the university’s leadership is unbelievably ignorant and could not perform two minutes of Internet research (not ideal for an institution of higher learning), or Brandeis buckled under pressure from Hirsi Ali’s detractors.

I’m going with the latter option. This isn’t the result of delayed due diligence, it’s the consequence of bullying and appeasement.

Of course, the censorship crowd claim that Hirsi Ali’s award would have been un-American, rewarding prejudice with academic legitimacy. But they’re wrong — badly so.

Yes, Hirsi Ali has, on occasion, made aggressive statements. In an interview with the Evening Standard, for example, she once described Islam as “a destructive, nihilistic cult of death.” I suspect I’m not alone in finding this statement both unpleasant and unjust.

Nevertheless, as British peer and IRA victim Norman Tebbit elucidates, anger is a natural human reaction to assault. As a corollary, Hirsi Ali has every right to be angry. Yet even then, Hirsi Ali is no Pamela Geller. On the contrary, for her whole life, Hirsi Ali has used anger as a catalyst to great good.

#page#This, after all, is the woman who entered social activism and politics to protect helpless refugees from endemic abuse. This is the woman who built a foundation to mobilize support for those in despair. This is the woman who has, for many years, faced murderous threats for the simple sin of speaking her mind.

In short, this is a woman who has risked much for noble ideals. And with the balance of her actions assessed, few individuals are more deserving of an honorary degree.

#ad#But the Brandeis scandal isn’t just about a denial of justice. In equal measure, it highlights the growing challenge of Islamist-focused censorship in American society.

Be under no illusions: This censorship project isn’t localized in Wahhabi puppets like the Council on American-Islamic Relations. It also finds fervent support among activists and journalists too. Together, these zealots for subjective silence want Americans to believe that stifled speech is an acceptable price for insipid politeness. That insults are a more grievous crime than the ordained knifing of genitals. That the empowerment of voiceless breeding chambers (a.k.a. millions of women in parts the Islamic world) is less important than the risk that an American student might feel offended.

This is a deeply serious issue. With every victory this lunacy achieves, American social discourse is pushed farther into a chilled wilderness.

Ultimately, even the censors themselves aren’t winners here. Sure, they might claim that they’ve protected “social justice,” but in the end, the opposite is true. Facing political challenge with gags and slander, those who disagree with Hirsi Ali have shown themselves for what they are — the enemies of free thought and the implicit supporters of grave injustice.

Today they, and Brandeis, stand in shame.

— Tom Rogan is a blogger and a columnist for the Daily Telegraph. He’s based in Washington, D.C.

Tom Rogan is a columnist for National Review Online, a contributor to the Washington Examiner, and a former panelist on The McLaughlin Group. Email him at TRogan@McLaughlin.com

Most Popular

White House

The Trivialization of Impeachment

We have a serious governance problem. Our system is based on separation of powers, because liberty depends on preventing any component of the state from accumulating too much authority -- that’s how tyrants are born. For the system to work, the components have to be able to check each other: The federal and ... Read More
U.S.

‘Texodus’ Bodes Badly for Republicans

‘I am a classically trained engineer," says Representative Will Hurd, a Texas Republican, "and I firmly believe in regression to the mean." Applying a concept from statistics to the randomness of today's politics is problematic. In any case, Hurd, 42, is not waiting for the regression of our politics from the ... Read More
Elections

Put Up or Shut Up on These Accusations, Hillary

Look, one 2016 candidate being prone to wild and baseless accusations is enough. Appearing on Obama campaign manager David Plouffe’s podcast, Hillary Clinton suggested that 2016 Green Party candidate Jill Stein was a “Russian asset,” that Republicans and Russians were promoting the Green Party, and ... Read More
Culture

Feminists Have Turned on Pornography

Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the feminist movement has sought to condemn traditional sexual ethics as repressive, misogynistic, and intolerant. As the 2010s come to a close, it might be fair to say that mainstream culture has reached the logical endpoint of this philosophy. Whereas older Americans ... Read More
PC Culture

Defiant Dave Chappelle

When Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special Sticks & Stones came out in August, the overwhelming response from critics was that it was offensive, unacceptable garbage. Inkoo Kang of Slate declared that Chappelle’s “jokes make you wince.” Garrett Martin, in the online magazine Paste, maintained that the ... Read More