Yet another university calls for the marginalization of Ayaan Hirsi Ali

September 14, 2014 • 7:48 am

UPDATE: I am informed, and it is the case, that the column that looked like it was written by Chris Stedman, which I mention  at the bottom of my post, was actually written by Sarah Jones, described as “Communications Associate for Americans United for Separation of Church and State,” and she was talking about the revocation of Hirsi Ali’s honorary degree at Brandeis, not the new incident at Yale.  This is given in the column, and I simply overlooked it. I have corrected what I wrote below and apologize to Stedman for my error and for characterizing him as a coward. The short-sightedness I attributed to him belongs instead to Ms. Jones, whose views are an embarrassment to both feminism and secularism.  I would, however, like to know Stedman’s views on this issue, or whether he had any role in the Yale Humanist Group’s decision. If he stayed out of the whole thing, or, better yet, fought against their signing the letter, I give him kudos.

_________

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who should be a hero to everyone who respects reason and those who stand up for it, can’t catch a break. First, despite her liberalism, she was forced to get a job with a conservative organization (The American Enterprise Institute) because, given her activism against Islam, no liberal organization would hire her.

Then Brandeis University offered her an honorary degree and, after Muslim-inspired protest, decided to withdraw it.

Now she has been invited to speak at Yale, but there is a terrific outcry and calls for her invitation be withdrawn or her remarks be tempered or balanced with someone who is a fan of Islam.

The story: as reported by The Yale Daily NewsHirsi Ali was was invited to give a talk on Islam versus the West:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali — a Somali-born American activist known for her women’s rights advocacy and critical remarks about Islam — is slated to give a lecture titled “Clash of Civilizations: Islam and the West” on Sep. 15 as part of the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program speaker series.

According to the National Review, the protest began with (of course) the Muslim Students Association, who wrote a letter and got 35 other groups to cosign it.  Here is the letter with all the signatories:

From: Yale MSA <yalemsa@gmail.com>

Date: Wed, Sep 10, 2014 at 9:15 AM
Subject: Dear Friends: More Speech, Not Hate Speech
To: Yale MSA <yalemsa@gmail.com>

To the Yale community, and to the Buckley program board and staff,

We write to express our concerns about the speaker that is coming to campus this September 15, 2014. The Buckley Foundation is inviting Ayaan Hirsi Ali to discuss the topic “Clash of Civilizations: Islam and the West.”

The level of radical inaccuracy in representing a faith that is part of our community compels all of us, not just Muslims on campus, to act on Yale’s fundamental values of freedom of speech and diversity of thought to express our sentiments.

We sympathize with the unfortunate circumstances that Ms. Hirsi Ali faced in her Muslim household as a child and we recognize that such experiences do exist in many countries, including Muslim-majority ones. We condemn such actions and contend that Islam does not promote them. It is important to distinguish Islamic teachings from the practices of some Muslims, which can be based on a variety of sociopolitical reasons and which do exist in other non-Muslim communities around the world.

Our concern is that Ms. Hirsi Ali is being invited to speak as an authority on Islam despite the fact that she does not hold the credentials to do so. In the past, under such authority, she has overlooked the complexity of sociopolitical issues in Muslim-majority countries and has purported that Islam promotes a number of violent and inhumane practices. At her worst, Ms. Hirsi Ali has said that Islam is a “destructive nihilistic cult of death” worshiping a “fire-breathing Allah” that, in all of its forms, needs to be “defeated.”

While the Muslim community and its allies cannot but believe that the students of the Buckley program care to “promote intellectual diversity” in a respectful and purposeful manner, we do want to reiterate that we feel highly disrespected by the invitation of this speaker. Moreover, it would be more beneficial for someone with representative scholarly qualifications to be speaking if the goal is “to foster open political discussion and intellectual engagement on campus.”

The comments Ms. Hirsi Ali has made on Islam have been classified as hate speech and have been considered unprotected libel and slander. She has been condemned for them by national organizations and universities. The Muslim community and its allies are disappointed that our own fellow Yalies would invite such a speaker knowingly and that she would have such a platform in our home.

While we have legitimate concerns from what we know, and while we cannot overlook how marginalizing her presence will be to the Muslim community and how uncomfortable it will be for the community’s allies, we are hopeful that the discussion is constructive and that Ms. Hirsi Ali speaks only to her personal experiences and professional expertise.

In advancing freedom of speech on campus, we are happy to work together, with the Buckley program and with others, to facilitate representative dialogue about Islam.  We are also happy to engage anybody curious about why we feel this way. The Muslim community at Yale is vibrant and its doors are always open to those interested in learning more—not about a perceived clash of civilizations, but about Islam as something that represents a meaningful faith experience for a community of Yalies. We encourage you to reach out to the Coordinator of Muslim Life and to the Muslim Students Association to learn more about Muslim beliefs, practices, experiences, and events.

We welcome those interested in honest learning and productive dialogue to visit the musalla in Bingham D or to join us in our next Friday service and lunch at 1:00pm in Dwight Chapel.

With peace,

The Women’s Center
Asian American Student Alliance (AASA)
Black Church at Yale (BCAY)
The Slifka Center
Council on Middle Eastern Studies (CMES)
Yale Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics (AHA)
Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship
Hindu Student Council (HSC)
St. Thomas More Undergraduate Council
Youth Evangelical Fellowship
The Arab Students Association (ASA)
Black Student Alliance (BSA)
Yale African Student Association (YASA)
Jews and Muslims at Yale (JAM)
Korean American Students at Yale (KASY)
South Asian Society (SAS)
Yale Friends of Turkey
Nepali Association of Yale-Undergraduate Affiliates (NAYA)
Yale Friends of Israel (YFI)
Japanese American Student Union (JASU)
Yalies for Pakistan
Students of Nigeria
Chinese American Student Association (CASA)
Albanian Students at Yale College
Dominican Student Association
Taiwanese American Society (TAS)
Women’s Leadership Initative (WLI)
Students for Syrian Relief
Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)
Building Bridges
Survivor’s Inbox
Asian American Political Action and Education Committee (PAEC)
J Street U
Broad Recognition
DisOrient

and the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA)

You may object that this is not a call to withdraw her invitation, but that’s precisely its intention. As Breitbart reports:

Although The Yale Daily News says the MSA’s letter to the Buckley Foundation did not ask for the organization to dis-invite Hirsi Ali, Buckley Foundation president Rich Lizardo told Breitbart News on Wednesday that the MSA specifically attempted to get the foundation to withdraw its invitation to Hirsi Ali.

“In our meeting the [MSA] student representative, said she would like the Buckley Program to reconsider the invite to [Hirsi Ali]. She said it ‘would be really offensive to many people in my community and we would prefer if she didn’t come on to campus on to our home,'” Lizardo said. “So I immediately said that would be a non-starter for us.”

But on to the letter. First, look at the signatories. It’s stunningly bizarre: women’s groups, ethnic organizations, a group that includes Jews (whom much of the Islamic world would like to see exterminated) and, most embarrassing, the Yale Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics! What were they thinking?

This is a prime example of how Muslims have immunized themselves from criticism—by pleading “offended feelings”—and how other groups, including liberal ones, have fallen for this ploy becaue they hold a double standard: offenses committed by Muslims are not as reprehensible as the same offenses committed by others.

And Muslims feel “disrepected” by Hirsi Ali? Too damn bad, for “disrespected” here means simply “criticized.” College students simply have to learn to listen to criticism about their views, and not live in an echo chamber where all criticism of religion—especially Islam—is considered “disrespectful” and out of bounds. We should not be dupes to the Muslim ploy, so far successful, of fending off criticism by calling it “Islamophobia.” It is a deliberate strategy that is part of their proselytizing.

And the letter is so ridiculous it’s almost laughable. Here’s one part:

Our concern is that Ms. Hirsi Ali is being invited to speak as an authority on Islam despite the fact that she does not hold the credentials to do so.

What? She studied Islam extensively, was a devout Muslim for years, and then realized how dysfunctional it was—and she was a Muslim in Kenya, Somalia, and Saudi Arabia. Her genitals were ripped up as part of her religious initiation. She was oppressed, repressed, terrorized, and then expelled from the Netherlands after she had worked her way up from a penniless immigrant to a member of Parliament (the Dutch later rescinded her expulsion).  She has bodyguards all of the time—clearly something that has nothing to do with Islam! Don’t tell me she is not an authority on Islam. She has experienced the bad parts of Islam far more extensively than the privileged students at Yale whose ears are so tender that they can’t abide hearing anything that opposes their preconceived notions.

And this is just a lie:

We sympathize with the unfortunate circumstances that Ms. Hirsi Ali faced in her Muslim household as a child and we recognize that such experiences do exist in many countries, including Muslim-majority ones. We condemn such actions and contend that Islam does not promote them.

Of course Islam promotes horrible actions in many countries: just read Hirsi Ali’s book Infidel (something I suspect most of the signatories have not done). What else is ISIS doing but exactly what these ignoramuses say is not happening? Or, if ISIS seems too extreme, what about Saudi Arabia? Women can’t drive or go out by themselves, and must be veiled. The country is subject to sharia law, and they regularly behead people (8 last month alone, for crimes like adultery, sorcery, and apostasy). That has nothing to do with Islam? Give me a break! What world are those signatories living in?

Here’s some further dissimulation:

While the Muslim community and its allies cannot but believe that the students of the Buckley program care to “promote intellectual diversity” in a respectful and purposeful manner, we do want to reiterate that we feel highly disrespected by the invitation of this speaker. Moreover, it would be more beneficial for someone with representative scholarly qualifications to be speaking if the goal is “to foster open political discussion and intellectual engagement on campus.”

Translation: “The only speaker acceptable to us is one who does not criticize Islam.”

As for her “hate speech,” she has indeed made several strong remarks, but remember that what Muslims consider “inflammatory” is basically anything critical of their faith. Perhaps she went overboard in a few remarks, but consider her entire history, her speeches, and her record.  Regardless, what she said does not rise to the level of “hate speech,” but is merely passionate criticism of Islam. Hatred of the faith, perhaps, but not of its adherents. Saying “Islam must be defeated” is not hate speech, but an opinion, one regularly rendered by Christopher Hitchens. “Defeated” does not mean “all Muslims should be killed,” but “defeated by fighting against Islam’s tenets.” As for her talk’s title, I do see this as a clash of civilizations. And as for Islam being a “nihilistic cult of death,” well, no, it’s not nihilistic, but the jihadis are certainly part of a cult of death. This is just quibbling over words: what the Yale groups really don’t like is that Hirsi Ali simply criticizes Islam, loudly and effectively. She is “Islamophobic.” She is “disrepecting” another “culture.” And so they pick a few ambiguous phrases to devalue her entire life’s work.

Fortunately, Yale (the sponsor is another conservative group, the Buckley Foundation) is not going to withdraw her invitation. But you can be sure there will be death threats and lots of security.

Among others who have criticized Hirsi Ali is, disappointingly, the “faitheist” Chris Stedman, now a humanist leader at Yale, Sarah Jones (Communications Associate for Americans United for Separation of Church and State) who, in a piece at the Religion News Service, joins the chorus in characterizing Hirsi Ali as an Islamophobe (her piece is about the Brandeis incident). At least she doesn’t explicitly call for a boycott:

In a social climate like this, Hirsi Ali’s prejudice isn’t merely offensive—it’s potentially dangerous.

Please defend her right to speak. But you should also denounce her views for what they are: hateful. Any other position amounts to apologetics for prejudice—and there’s nothing rational about that.

Yes, I’ll defend Hirsi Ali’s right to speak, but I’ll also defend her criticism of Islam as a divisive and often hateful religion, one that is, perhaps, the world’s most dangerous faith. To hear Hirsi Ali, once a devout Muslim, characterized as being “prejudiced” against Islam is risible. According to my online dictionary, “prejudice” means “a preconceived opinion not based on reason or actual experience.” Well, Hirsi Ali had lots of experience with Islam, and in several countries. She is the target of death threats, and has been tremendously brave to keep on with her criticism of Islam, especially after her colleague Theo van Gogh was killed by Muslims who didn’t like the movie the two of them made. (Have a look at what brought on his death.)

The cowards are the people like Jones and the signatories of the letter above, including the Yale Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics, who are shudder at the thought of having their tender ears exposed to the realities of the world’s most dysfunctional faith, or their tender necks exposed to the swords of Islamic revenge-mongers (remember the Danish cartoons?).

And the signers of the letter, most of whom surely have never read Hirsi Ali’s books, are not just cowards, but deeply misguided. Their views are inimical to the freedom of expression that is one of our major guarantors of freedom. If they don’t want to hear her, they don’t have to go to her talk. Or they are perfectly free to counter her speech with other speech.

Finally, recall this passage from the letter (my emphasis).

We sympathize with the unfortunate circumstances that Ms. Hirsi Ali faced in her Muslim household as a child and we recognize that such experiences do exist in many countries, including Muslim-majority ones. We condemn such actions and contend that Islam does not promote them.

By characterizing Hirsi Ali as “prejudiced” and “hateful,” Jones, the Muslim Students’ Association, and all the signatories of the letters are in effect excusing or overlooking the terrible oppression of women, the medieval brutality of sharia law, the beheading and crucifying of infidels, the fatwas against writers, the death threats against cartoonists and those who dare name a teddy bear after the Prophet, the calls for a return of the Holocaust—all the malfeasance and horror associated with many strains of Islam. And those acts are “not promoted by Islam”? Those who say such things brand themselves as willfully ignorant. In the end, it is they who, by pretending that religion has nothing to do with anything bad, are the true enablers of hatred and brutality on this planet. They need to learn that hating beliefs is not the same as hating believers.

 

183 thoughts on “Yet another university calls for the marginalization of Ayaan Hirsi Ali

  1. She spoke at Ohio University several years ago and to characterize her enlightening talk as “hate speech” would be ridiculous. Other universities who back from invitations because of the prejudiced groups who won’t consider her interpretations of Islam are violating the deep principles of discourse in academia and are cowards.

  2. “Here Stedman, the Muslim Students’ Association, and all the signatories of the letters are acting as apologists for the terrible oppression of women, the medieval brutality of sharia law, the beheading and crucifying of infidels…”

    They are not merely “acting” as apologists, rather they are, by their own words, actively condoning all those things.
    In addition to being totally without a moral backbone, these people show themselves to be philosophically infantile, intellectually mendacious and their views are a total perversion of liberalism.

    The religious equivalent in 20th century history would be the Vatican’s spineless attitude towards Mussolini and Fascism.

    1. I entirely agree. Further, to say Islam doesn’t promote such things as Hirsi Ali suffered is to ignore such things as hadiths that describe how to beat your wife. The fact that Sharia law values the testimony of women as only half that of men though, should see every liberal group opposing it even before you get to the barbarity of its punishments.

      This goes back to the idea that religion has some special status when it comes to criticism, which apologists for Islam have effectively built on. Islam should have no special status protecting it from valid criticism. Fear of being labelled Islamophobic is effectively silencing debate in the places it should be most prevalent – universities.

      I also continue to be frustrated that it is the right-wing media, like Fox News, who are often the best advocates for free speech in general, and Hirsi Ali in particular. It should be an embarrassment to all progressive thinkers that so many are failing to think clearly on this issue.

      On Friday I heard Fox’s Greg Gutfeld (The Five, Red Eye) admit atheists like Hitchens had been speaking out against Islam for some time, but had been ignored because they were atheists. If Fox can admit we atheists had it right all along (about this at least), perhaps there’s hope for the Yale atheists et al too. Surely it’s a much smaller leap for them.

      1. Judaism is much better than islam.
        Of course these are not “real jews”.

        http://judaism.about.com/library/1_politics/bl_ultraorthodox_jerusalem.htm

        For the third Sabbath in a row, thousands of ultra-orthodox Jews gathered on Bar-Ilan Street, a main Jerusalem thoroughfare, to protest driving on the Sabbath and even to throw stones at passing cars. One policeman was injured in the head and seven ultra-orthodox residents were arrested. In addition to throwing stones at cars being driven on the Sabbath, past violent acts committed by ultra-orthodox Jews in an effort to influence how secular Jews dress, eat and observe the Sabbath include slashing tires on the cars of women not dressed modestly, physically attacking women not dressed modestly, causing damage to restaurants and stores with non-kosher food and burning Israeli flags.

    2. “In addition to being totally without a moral backbone, these people show themselves to be philosophically infantile, intellectually mendacious and their views are a total perversion of liberalism.”

      Bravo, pv! You summed up this group (and their counterparts) accurately and precisely. A courageous and principled humanistic liberalism has no room for such anti-intellectual tactics as attempting to shut down free and critical inquiry, most especially from within the university.

  3. If Muslim Student Association condemns violent and barbaric acts carried out in the name of Islam, then surely they have already written letters to ISIS, al Shabaab, or Saudi government, condemning their actions, and explaining the true meaning of Islam. Right?

    1. Wrong. I have heard Muslims rage about Ms. Ali, and remain radio silent or even blame the Jews about terrorism/ISIS. The point is to get people to shut up about Islam, and their strategy has been working like a prisoner in a North Korean camp. And many western liberals are either too stupid or too misinformed to see this.

    2. Extremely good point, List of X. And the signatories to that letter should be asked, point blank, whether or not, they have written such a letter.

  4. I’ll be interested to see how this one plays out. I bet the rank and file of some of those organizations will have something to say about being linked to this statement. Or maybe not. It’s possible that those organizations (whether atheist, feminist, or Jewish) represent just the bands in the spectrum of opinion that believe this drivel. But it doesn’t surprise me that it’s happened.

    1. Some liberals, too many in my opinion, are confusing being critical of your own group with giving a pass to any nonsense of “the other”.
      I don’t know all the groups signing that embarrassing letter, but in the few I know, nobody will say anything against it, either because they actually believe in what’s in it or because “all in all”, since Muslims are the victims, any criticism of Muslims and their faith is wrong.

  5. “In advancing freedom of speech on campus, we are happy to work together…”

    Thus entirely missing the point that free speech is independent of them, their participation, or their happiness.

  6. The very notion that Islam is anything but radical anti-feminism is utterly bizarre. It’s the Southern Baptist “wives should submit graciously to their husbands” bullshit on ultra steroids.

    Fuck that shit. The signatories to this letter need to hear and carefully listen to Ayaan if they want to have any hope of fully embracing civil society.

    Get back to us when Saudi Arabia has at least a third of the members of a democratically-elected representative legislature as women and a woman as head of state and then we’ll talk. Then maybe we’ll consider that they’re not stuck in the sixth century. (Those who don’t know: it’s an absolute monarchy, no legislature, no women…and Islam is the official state religion. Oh — and it’s ranked 129th out of 134 nations for gender equality.)

    If Islam was the great feminist religion the Muslim apologists would have us believe, there’s no fucking way the wealthiest and most powerful Islamic state and site of the holiest of holiest Islamic sites could be so profoundly misogynistic.

    b&

      1. No joke. The Caliphate beheads two reporters for trespass and we go to war. Saudi Arabia in the same timeframe beheads…what, half a dozen or so? For equally trivial offenses? And they’re still our bestest of bestest buddies?

        “One of these things is not like the other one.”

        b&

          1. At this point they quite possibly both do.

            But Ben’s point about Saudi complicity in this world-wide chaos is spot-on, assuming I understand him. Wahhabi-style Mosques have been funded by Saudi money for decades. And it is paying off.

              1. There is apparently proof that funds are going from Saudi Arabia to the caliphate. I haven’t seen it, but it’s the reason one of the first moves against them was some sanctions in the international money markets to stop it.

                IS also has control of at least four working oil fields in Iraq and two refineries in Syria. Some of that is being sold on the Black Market at greatly discounted prices, although attempts are being made to stop that. However, most of it is being sold to people living within the area it controls. E.g. There are 1.8 million people in Mosul, all of whom are buying petrol, diesel etc. The caliphate is earning $1-2 million/day from that. They have many other sources of income within the area they control too, which is why they’re different from your average terrorist. Add to that millions they’ve received from European countries that pay ransoms. There will always be those happy to make a profit from misery too, so unscrupulous weapons traders have to be targeted as well.

              2. Wouldn’t be surprised.

                Even if it’s not “official” there are still a large number of very wealthy Saudis (individuals and organizations) who are pretty adept at funnelling money to their favoured causes.

                They definitely gain from the destabilization of Iraq, and if Iran can be pulled in then so much the better.

              3. The problem is likely as I mentioned earlier: “The Saudis” is vague – there’s the official royal family. Then there’s a whole extended family of rich folk. Then there’s the population, including likely a small middle class which might donate inadvertently or otherwise via their mosque, etc. Which is it? I have my doubts that it is the first, but the second is what funds the madrassas in Pakistan, etc. from what I understand.

    1. Gee, if they’re only ranked 129th, I’d hate to think what women have to put up with in the 5 countries ranked lower than them.

      1. https://web.archive.org/web/20101108161527/http://www.weforum.org/pdf/gendergap/report2010.pdf

        1: Iceland 2: Norway 3: Finland 4: Sweden 5: New Zealand … 17: Netherlands 18: Latvia 19: United States 20: Canada 21: Trinidad and Tobago … 42: Slovenia 43: Poland 44: Jamaica 45: Russian Federation 46: France … 61: China … 90: El Salvador 91: Mexico 92: Zimbabwe 92: Belize 93: Japan … 112: India … 129: Saudi Arabia 130: Côte d’Ivoire 131: Mali 132: Pakistan 133: Chad 134: Yemen

        Cheers,

        b&

    2. I love your directness Ben.

      How burkas, preventing women from participating in political and social life, restricting their mobility (chaperones, imprisonment inside the home, forbidding driving), honor killing, and clitoris cutting does not qualify as misogyny makes me fulminate.

      Genital mutilation of CHILDREN!
      Letter to the Yale Women’s Center: Get your fucking priorities straight!

      1. And what I don’t think Ben mentioned, although I’m sure he knows, there are only two countries in the world where women can’t vote- Saudi Arabia and the Vatican (which only votes for the papacy). It’s proposed women will get to vote in Saudi Arabia for the first time in 2016.

    3. The “most powerful” Islamic state would be Pakistan, not Saudi Arabia (at least in terms of military strength, population, and geopolitical clout). They have had several women in powerful political positions (including one head of state).

      But you have to say that they have some very big problems on other fronts. Perhaps the biggest of these is the tendency of the Pakistani military to think of radical Islamic terrorists as “friends” against a common enemy; a tendency which has brought much misery and bloodshed to both India and Pakistan.

      1. Interesting. I’ve heard this point raised before and I’m sure you’ll agree that female heads of state, especially in these countries, belonging to controversial political pedigrees, is a whole different matter and says very little, if anything, about their societal progress and freedoms. The fact that she was a Bhutto got her power, the added fact that she was female was a merely tolerable inconvenience in a country that has utterly failed at democracy with elite groups of political dynasties running a nepotism-infused democratic charade in tandem with a pro-Islamist military element.

        Surprisingly, despite being an utterly failed state surviving in western intervention funding for most of its dictatorial existence, it still ranks lower than Saudi Arabia in treatment of women. Really, it’s been a failed disaster since the 70s, and simply hit tipping point in 1979 when the state was officially regressed into an Islamic entity.

        1. Speaking about Afghanistan, just now in the news:
          “ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — In one of the world’s most volatile regions, Pakistan is advancing toward a sea-based missile capability and expanding its interest in tactical nuclear warheads, according to Pakistani and Western analysts.”

          With the instability there and with the plethora of extremist factions, this could lead to that almost unspeakable nightmare scenario – Nuclear war.
          Try not to lose any “O sleep! O gentle sleep!”

  7. “Here Stedman, the Muslim Students’ Association, and all the signatories of the letters are acting as apologists for the terrible oppression of women, the medieval brutality of sharia law, the beheading and crucifying of infidels…”

    Not merely “acting” as apologists for, but by their action actively condoning these activities.

    In addition to being devoid of moral backbone, these people show themselves to be philosophically infantile and intellectually mendacious. Their attitude towards Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a total perversion of liberalism.

    “Outrageously immoral” doesn’t come close to doing it justice.

    1. Many on the left have become paralyzed by the fear of being called ‘racist’ This fear prevents them from speaking out (or even seeing) about this kind of thing.

      Plus those who automatically decide that this us ultimately the fault of the US/Israel who somehow have magic powers to make people misbehave.

  8. Note the weasel newspeak phrase ‘sociopolitical reasons’ You gotta get all this beheading business ‘in context.’
    This kind of insidious attack on free speech needs constantly to be confronted. Excellent piece.

  9. They have created a flak machine, the modern version of telling people to not emulate or support certain behaviours, and the target is not Hirsi Ali, or the university — the target is us, everyone else who is told “if you dare criticize Islam, you’ll get a lot of hassle and trouble”. This appears to be two-staged now.

    The earlier, more direct form was the death threat fatwa issued famously against Salman Rushdie and after-the-fact even though directed as an example for future “transgressions”. The newer form is about driving up the costs in advance, and threatening actions during and after some “transgression” took place.

    Here Muslims appear to have learned from the progressive authoritarians and their “no platform”, who have picked up and refined flak machines from the older brand of conservative authoritarian. Muslims are like a perfect synthesis. They can draw from both toolkits, as they tend to be right-wing conservative authoritarians in ideology, but can team up with left-wing progressive authoriarians and their multi culturalist/anti-colonialist stance.

    Far-wing politics from both sides, and authoritarianism are perhaps where the circle of politics close on the far side — that uncanny area where fascism sits as well.

  10. ‘It is important to distinguish Islamic teachings from the practices of some Muslims, which can be based on a variety of sociopolitical reasons and which do exist in other non-Muslim communities around the world.’ Note the weasel phrase ‘sociopolitical reasons’ straight out of Orwellian Newspeak. This whole section is a lie.
    Death for apostasy – in Quran
    Beheading non believers in Quran
    Women as 2nd class In quran
    I could go on.

    Excellent piece. Keep up the good work.

  11. Disgusting that both organisations purportedly representing Women and Black students would sign their names to this. They betray themselves.

  12. Clearly the contention that “Islam does not promote” anti-feminist cruelty is totally ludicrous, and calling her accurate and insightful remarks on the depravity of fundamentalist Islam “hate” and “prejudice” demonstrates that these people have a fantastically warped sense of perspective. I think it’s a shame that so many groups have outright dismissed her message.

    That said, I think that for some the source of their discomfort with Ali is how readily she advocates US-led military action in Middle Eastern conflicts. After decades of failed US intervention in Middle Eastern affairs (starting with our removal of secular leadership and re-installation of Islamic tyranny in Iran; our policies have been as inconsistent as they’ve been wasteful), and the loss of thousands of American lives in the process, I reserve the right to be openly very skeptical of several of Ali’s proposals (though I can’t imagine not wanting her to speak at my school).

      1. Thank you Jerry. Your academic (and literary) credentials really help when calling out other academic institutions on their hypocrisy.

    1. Wow! The outcry is great! There are even Muslims that are criticizing the Humanist group! Excellent. It’s heartening to see that there are actually sensible people out there still.

  13. The real issue is as always in this discouse: believers are free to spread the message that non-believers have lesser right, or can be tortured and killed. Actions that underscore these tenets exist by the hundred thousands, if not millions throughout history. That is not considered hate-speech.

    However, speaking out against this, is perplexingly hate-speech or somehow “problematic”.

    Resources:
    Injustice in the Quran, Skeptics Annotated Qouran
    online Quran for reference

    1. “Behead the infidels” — Believer
      “Burn, atheist, burn in hell” — Believer
      “They like people tortured and killed” — Atheist

      “OMG! Hate speech! Hate speech! We can’t tolerate what the atheist say” — the imbeciles of the world

  14. Too much to respond to it all. I limit myself to one part.

    Chris Stedman, if you’re reading this:

    In a social climate like this, Hirsi Ali’s prejudice isn’t merely offensive—it’s potentially dangerous.

    Translation: Anyone who speaks out against the irrationality, injustices and cruelty perpetrated by islam is potentially in physical danger of violent retaliation. And, I have a nice comfy position at a cushy university. Please don’t hurt me.

    You, sir, are a fucking coward. I hate to use a crude, sex-based illustration, but I suspect that if I counted your cojones and Ms. Ali’s, that I would get the same number in either case. She, at least, has a biological excuse, however.

    But you should also denounce her views for what they are: hateful.

    I respectfully suggest you get your head out of the clouds (or whatever dark place it is currently located) and read what islamic leaders have had to say about the Jews, both historically and currently. Then perhaps, you might wish to rewrite your paragraph on hatred to reflect reality a bit more accurately.

    In fact, as a humanist leader, you might want to consider putting reason to work in a more rigorous fashion that you currently appear to be doing.

    “So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them.” (Quran 9.5)

  15. Just for clarification as I live in Saudi: women in Saudi do not have to wear a veil. In some parts this maybe true, but here, in Jeddah, Muslim women are required to cover their hair, non-Muslims do not. For cultural reasons women do have to wear the sack-like abaya. Interestingly I have been told that in Mecca when performing hadj women are explicitly not allowed to cover their faces when their traipsing around the stone. Being not Muslim I’ll never be allowed close to the city to even see if this is true.

    I’m not saying that other places in Saudi aren’t way more oppressive, nor that women are not oppressed here, merely pointing out an oft-repeated error about aspects of life here.

    1. You do see the contradiction here, I hope.

      “..women in Saudi do not have to wear a veil”

      “In some parts this maybe true…” and “…women do have to wear the sack-like abaya…”

      In anti-bellum America there were some free blacks.

      Exactly what “oft-repeated error” were you correcting?

    2. “Being not Muslim I’ll never be allowed close to the city to even see if this is true.”

      How in the world would anyone know this? Is there a secret handshake? An invisible tattoo that glows when you get near Kaaba?

    1. Which is why freethinker is my favorite personal descriptor. I consider myself a humanist but unfortunately there’s too much danger of left-wing idiocy cropping up in that category lately.

      1. That’s the main reason I call myself a humanist… I like to think I dilute the mush-headed respect for religion with a bit of good old-fashioned stridency.

        1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanism

          According to Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, another reason the Islamic world flourished during the Middle Ages was an early emphasis on freedom of speech, as summarised by al-Hashimi (a cousin of Caliph al-Ma’mun) in the following letter to one of the religious opponents he was attempting to convert through reason:[23]

          “Bring forward all the arguments you wish and say whatever you please and speak your mind freely. Now that you are safe and free to say whatever you please appoint some arbitrator who will impartially judge between us and lean only towards the truth and be free from the empery of passion, and that arbitrator shall be Reason, whereby God makes us responsible for our own rewards and punishments. Herein I have dealt justly with you and have given you full security and am ready to accept whatever decision Reason may give for me or against me. For “There is no compulsion in religion” (Qur’an 2:256) and I have only invited you to accept our faith willingly and of your own accord and have pointed out the hideousness of your present belief. Peace be with you and the blessings of God!”

        2. Well, you’ve got that nailed.

          😀

          That’s exactly what we need–some old-fashioned intelligence along the lines of Ingersoll, Twain, etc.

          1. Well, we had the Hitch until he had the temerity to die on us. If we’re very lucky, his successor is in diapers right now…but, chances are, it’s his successor’s parents who’re in diapers….

            b&

            1. Well, I was just playing on GB’s old-fashioned riff. We have some excellent modern voices, of course. Perhaps the biggest problem is that one needs not only the speakers but the hearers to succeed.

  16. I find this quote interesting :

    “Ms. Hirsi Ali has said that Islam is a “destructive nihilistic cult of death” worshiping a “fire-breathing Allah” that, in all of its forms, needs to be “defeated.””

    If this is false, the letter writers should be called out for lying. If she really did say those things they sound eerily like Hamas’ tirades against Zionists.

    1. Let’s try some creative substitution:

      “Naziism is a destructive nationalistic cult of war, following a Jew-hating Hitler that, in all of its forms, needs to be defeated.”

      Is that hate speech?

  17. All religions are crap. Some are crappier than others. Islam is one.

    It may, in fact, at this point in history, be close to the crappiest.

  18. I too noted this line:

    …it would be more beneficial for someone with representative scholarly qualifications

    So who, pray tell has these qualifications? Should Yale instead invite an Imam – from where? A mufti? Which one? And how would that help anyone?

    The hate speech designation is a joke. Hate speech looks like this “kill all Muslims”. We have hate laws in Canada – you have to say things like “kill all Jews” and start preaching that to a group of people who then start harassing Jews, etc. Seems most of the Islamic world could be accused of a hate crime!

    1. What’s even funnier is that some of the signatory groups have no issue preaching and supporting violence against Jews or closely cooperating with others who do this.
      It’s only non-violent criticism of Muslims they are sensitive to.

    2. “Representative scholarly qualifications” strikes me as all too common academic elitism. One is qualified to speak provided that one has a minimum of a Ph.D. and has spent a sufficient number of hours in the bowels of a library researching footnotes. Ali is a brave and brilliant women, and one is well-advised to hear and heed her report form the field.

      1. No doubt these same offensivphobes (?) would question Hitch’s competence to speak at Yale on such matters.

        Would they question Chomsky’s competence? I trust that he would strongly support Ali’s right to speak and be heard, as much as he emphasizes applying to oneself the same standard one applies to others.

  19. An absurd letter and disappointing story indeed. The reaction here is well placed. These contrite, spineless complaints demand strong responses and continued vigilance. I share in the shock of seeing signatories like the Yale Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics. Now, they have lost whatever credibility they once enjoyed.

  20. This is right on the money. And who would have thought that liberalism would have turned out to be one of the greatest enablers of fundamentalist religion! Coyne for office, or at least give this man a greater public hearing.

  21. I can’t wait for Sam Harris’ comments on this. Although what he can say that would top Jerry’s statement is difficult to imagine.

  22. Ayaan Hirsi Ali often says things that has nothing to do with women’s rights or discrimination of minorities in Muslim countries (which of course happens). I don’t support this decision on behalf of those groups listed, but I do understand why some of them would make that decision. Just recently, she says in the an interview that Netanyahu would get a Noble Peace Prize in perfect world. Of course she said it during the Gaza war where hundreds of innocents have been killed, thousands of children injured and tens of thousands were left homeless. Many IDF soldiers died as well. A war of collective punishment (not my words, but human rights group’s) that was waged on all of residents of Gaza who are predominately Muslim. One would expect a very negative reaction to those words in Muslim communities at the very least. (and judging from the list of groups signed, from many other groups as well)

    1. Yes, those comments are certainly good reason to oppose all the good things she’s done over the years. Why do I get the feeling that you’re using this thread to vent your sentiments against Israel? Do you suppose those “recent” statements are the reasons Muslims want to kill her, or why she has bodyguards? She’s been stalked and threatened by Muslims for years, before she ever said any of those things. All you’re doing here is making up reasons why everyone is justified in criticizing her.

      1. No, it is not my intention to bring Israel into the conversation because it is not what it is about. It is about what she SAYS in public and often, those words sound very mean (purposely so) to a large groups of people.

        I am not sure why you are bringing up fanatics that are trying to kill her.. of course non of the groups that signed that letter are in the position of support.. so it is very irrelevant.. Fanatics will always exist even in large numbers and yes I am very aware what she went through by reading her own accounts.

        You present her as a person of reason and very often she is, but she also says things that are very irrational and meant only to offend and this is the reason why groups like those sign that letter. I very much doubt it is because of the work she does FOR women’s rights in Muslim countries. If that was the case, i doubt we would ever see such as large number of groups sign it.

        You also make it sounds as if she has NO other choice but to work for a AGW denier group like AEI. Probably, that was the case when she first came to US, but I highly doubt it still is the case and she has absolutely NO other choices.

        1. I am curious why you spend so much time criticizing the few things she’s said that are contentious (not irrational) and not a word condemning the letter or the attempt to muzzle her. She does not even OFTEN say those words, for the groups that try to ban her always go back to the same two or three things.

          We have no idea if anybody else would hire here, so you can doubt it if you want.

          I’m sorry, but you sound like the same kind of apologist who signed the letter.

        2. When she came to the US she attempted to find support from your expected liberal institutions… Brookings, for example. Nope, nobody was interested. AEI, which I generally dislike, offered her a spot.

          But in your position of moral authority, you’ve decided that she should go elsewhere. Based on your “high doubts”. The shame is not on Ali, it is on the liberal establishment that turned her away at the moment she most needed assistance.

          (Aside: Have you actually read one of her books? Do you know what her experience is?)

    2. For the sake of the discussion, let’s say that what she said was wrong (or everything she says).
      How is this supposed to justify stopping her from talking?
      Plus, those grou

  23. Religion and freedom of thought/expression are mutually antithetical.

    Religions understandably do not tolerate the kind of open and honest examination that will undermine the control of thought that is essential to their continuing existence.

    In the USA, religions are constitutionally protected from laws that may inhibit freedom of religion; however, freedom of religion does not mean freedom from criticism — even if such criticism is deemed to be “offensive” to a religion.

    Religions are free to offer rebuttals, but it may be “problematic” to refute well-documented facts with religious dogma or assertions of “good intentions”.

  24. Yoh! This reminds me of when I worked at the University of Cape Town in the dark days of Apartheid. If any speaker that the United Democratic Front disagreed with, they wouldn’t let them speak at the university, no matte who had invited them.
    I must say though, that the UDF had some moral justification for their actions in that Apartheid African Nationalist government wouldn’t allow any left-wing or liberal speakers – if you were anti-Apartheid you were ipso facto Kommunis.

  25. I like that Yale has a William F. Buckley lecture series that invited Ali. Have Yalies ever listened to Buckley? Were they ever offended by anything he said?

    Unbelievable. Berkeley and now Yale. Muslims are steadily censoring free speech in US Universities. Damn I wish Hitch was still alive. Something tells me he would find a way to speak at Yale or Berkeley and Free-Speech-shame them for disinviting Ali.

  26. “But on to the letter. First, look at the signatories. It’s stunningly bizarre:”

    At first I was greatly surprised at the list of supporters. After thinking about it, I’m inclined not to be so surprised. I suspect many campus organizations consist of minority groups eager not to be criticized themselves. They probably spend much time cultivating an image of compatibility. Coming out against the interests of another minority group probably would seem taboo.
    I would very much like to know what organizations, if any, had the fortitude to refused to sign.

    1. What struck me about the list of supporters was how many were faith based—different varieties of Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and, of course, Muslim. Perhaps an underlying fear is that, if Islam is vulnerable to criticism, then so are we all. So let’s unite against Ali in defense of all faiths.

      I can’t even begin to guess what’s up with the agnostic/humanist/atheists crew. Ultra-accommodationism? Glad they left “freethinkers” out, or my brain would be totally scrambled.

      1. Well, I don’t have to guess. Over at the site of the Yale Humanist Community, the Officers of the Yale Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics have made a statement. It includes the following: We believe Ayaan Hirsi Ali represents a sadly common voice in the atheist community that attacks and provokes, rather than contributes to constructive criticism or dialogue.” Well, Jerry, forget the albatross; it just might be provocative. Perish the thought!! Please make nicey nice! (Not!!!)

        1. When confronting a people who are murdering on average one person a day, including beheading people “guilty” of “crimes” such as adultery, sorcery, and apostasy, of what use is “constructive criticism”?

          And, no. I don’t mean the Caliphate / ISIS / ISIL or some other “radicalized” form of Islam.

          I mean straight-up garden-variety official government-blessed Islam in Saudi Arabia.

          Everybody criticizing Ayaan should, in the interests of fairness and balance, preface their remarks with, “Despite the frequent use of traditional Islamic decapitation by the popular liberal Islamic kingdom in the land of Mecca….”

          b&

      2. To be honest, I doubt that many students at any university have a strong fix on the idea of “freethinker”. They certainly didn’t when I went to school among middle class kids.

        1. University is definitely the place where I started to form my own ideas and open my mind further. It’s where I learned to be a true critical thinker. I hope these kids get the chance and they are talking about this in their classes.

        2. Too true.

          I remember learning about US antebellum freethinking (my first exposure to the concept–light-bulb moment) in some high school social studies course back in the day (late 60’s). You’d never find anything about that, now.

          OK, I don’t know if that’s true–but given the products of present-day US education, it’s an, uh, “educated” guess.

          1. Regardless of the state of U.S. public education; whatever “poor schools” exists (meaning poor teachers, administrators – and bloody poor school boards and politicos at whatever level and, dare I say, parents and citizens) – how hard is it to remember the answer to that most basic of science questions without a doubt at least satisfactorily addressed by teachers (this assumes a student who pays the least bit of attention), a question emphasized in several online talks by Lawrence Krauss and taken from National Science Foundation adult science literacy surveys and missed by approximately 50% of American adults:

            “True or False: the Earth goes around the sun and takes a year to do it.”

            This is a culture which continues to “aim at low objects (Emerson, via Jacoby) and is besotted by the “religions” of sport, conspicuous consumption and pop culture/celebrity.

            Re:

            “Anti-intellectualism in American Life” – Hofstadter

            “The Age of American Unreason” – Jacoby

            1. Could not agree more.

              I loved Jacoby’s book–and her Freethinkers as well, of course. Why a person like this is never mentioned in discussions of–how did Jerry put it, equestrian atheists?–is beyond me.

  27. I have found out that the column I attributed to Stedman, which was on his personal website, was actually written by Sarah Jones, an official of Americans United for Church and State. I have put a retraction (and an apology to Stedman) at the top of this column.

    It is my mistake, and I should have seen the notice that the column was actually a guest column.

    Everything else I said, including my feeling that the Yale Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics group should be ashamed of itself, still stands.

  28. Well if PZ Myers describes her as an “admirer of mass murderers” http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/08/05/its-a-good-day-to-not-have-any-heroes/ it`s no wonder the Yale humanists think bad of her (guess a few read his blog, at least the younger ones).

    These two events (Brandeis and Yale) really harm her reputation and make it more difficult to get other speaking gigs. Not getting a speaking gig is bad – but having an invitation retracted is really bad.

    1. That’s ironic. I finally read Infidel a few years ago after seeing it repeatedly touted on Pharyngula (albeit by commenters). How things have changed over there; when I stopped following, I’d have thought it couldn’t get any worse.

      1. Oh, his network of blogs is a huge mess.

        Few days ago, after the buzzfeed article, they went after Shermer again (who was forced to release a statement http://michaelshermer.com/downloads/Shermer-statement.pdf ).

        Following that, they went after Dawkins again.

        In the last few days it was Sam Harris, because of a sentence he said at the end of a Q&A.

        Today it`s James Randi.

        Some years ago I used to read PZ’s blog occasionally (at the time of his ” Courtier’s Reply”). But it seems he is just bitter now and envious at the success of the other atheists (Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins,Shermer,…), so he fabricates these “scandals”, always followed by the outrage of his hivemind. His latest book being a flop despite his big community only seems to intensify his outrage at his fellow atheists and their behaviour.

        1. Thanks for the update.

          “…the success of the other atheists (Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins,Shermer,…)…”

          *Ahem*, Coyne…

          😉

          1. I didn`t include him because he didn`t get attacked by PZ’s Fox News of reason network (at least no big attack).

            This is what Harris tweeted some hours ago:
            “You won’t find the future of free thought @freethoughtfeed, but you will find the end of reason”

            And Dawkins had this to say:
            “I wonder, is it best, @SamHarrisOrg, to just ignore the Outrage Junkies & Offence Junkies? Don’t feed their craving?”

            I think ignoring these people is the best strategy but them being attention whores means they will seek attention from the media (like they did with the buzzfeed article).

            1. “I didn`t include him because he didn`t get attacked by PZ’s Fox News of reason network (at least no big attack).”

              Oh, right.

              Thanks for the Harris & Dawkins tweets. I agree that non-engagement is the way to go. When necessary, stand-alone statements like those that Harris & Shermer made.

              Perhaps we can just characterize FtB as the National Enquirer of atheist/freethought/humanist journalism.

  29. Wow I just got to Yale and I’m already angry. This is completely ridiculous. If universities start silencing themselves, where can we go for free discussion and thought? I plan on going to the lecture tomorrow, so if anyone is interested I can let you know how it goes. Hopefully she will be able to speak in peace.

    1. I think I can safely speak for the vast majority here that we cold use a full report. 😉 You can also google Jerry for his e-mail, and send the report to him for his consideration. It would be a great follow-up.

  30. This is highly infuriating. What makes it much much worse is that this is happening at Yale of all places. Yale – a place where the best and the brightest go. If she had been invited to Harvard, I suspect, much the same would have happened as all Ivy-League universities are filled with liberals. Once upon a time, it used to be a good thing to be liberal – they used to protect free speech and celebrate criticism of religion. Now it’s the opposite. Now someone who protects the most sensitive fee-fees from being hurt the most times is the best liberal^TM.

    But worse than anything else – this is like spitting in the face of every humanist/atheist who has been marginalized/imprisoned/killed/forced to flee (in) Islamic countries for criticizing Islam. Now they’re also marginalized by elite privileged Ivy League liberals who don’t have the balls to face reality.
    This is also an insult to every gay person and women’s rights activist who has been brutally silenced by Muslims in their own countries. Believe me, there are lots of them. All this is directly based on their scripture – the Qu’ran and the hadiths. These liberals – as the conservatives love to say – are truly morally bankrupt. For shame.

  31. [I submitted this before too. Is it under moderation? Did it disappear? Delete if comments appears twice]

    This is highly infuriating. What makes it much much worse is that this is happening at Yale of all places. Yale – a place where the best and the brightest go. If she had been invited to Harvard, I suspect, much the same would have happened as all Ivy-League universities are filled with liberals. Once upon a time, it used to be a good thing to be liberal – they used to protect free speech and celebrate criticism of religion. Now it’s the opposite. Now someone who protects the most sensitive fee-fees from being hurt the most times is the best liberal^TM.

    But worse than anything else – this is like spitting in the face of every humanist/atheist who has been marginalized/imprisoned/killed/forced to flee (in) Islamic countries for criticizing Islam. Now they’re also marginalized by elite privileged Ivy League liberals who don’t have the balls to face reality.
    This is also an insult to every gay person and women’s rights activist who has been brutally silenced by Muslims in their own countries. Believe me, there are lots of them. All this is directly based on their scripture – the Qu’ran and the hadiths. These liberals – as the conservatives love to say – are truly morally bankrupt. For shame.

  32. Dr. Coyne, I noticed that there are no gay/lesbian groups among the signors. Thoughts?

    Is it that gay/lesbian groups have “gotten the telegram” regarding Islam and gays?

    Or were no gay/lesbian Yale groups invited to sign? hmmmmm…..

  33. Wouldn’t that fundamental right of free speech mentioned at that start of their protest letter include Ayaan Hirsi Ali being permitted to speak? A lot of people object to porn at the register in every convenience store but we’re told it’s free speech. What are all the signatories to the letter afraid of in letting the woman speak; that their sensibilities might be offended? Are we really headed down the path where no one who might offend someone else is permitted to exercise their rights of free speech? If so, I want all the porn out of my family’s sight.

      1. They’ve been criticizing Jesus and Christianity on College campuses for decades now. Liberal students love to attack Christianity and Judaism, for some reason, only Islam gets a free pass.

        1. Well then, no excuses. What’s wrong with these privileged students that they deny their own liberal, free speech principles? Probably they got it from their parents? Help us out here. What’s going on?

  34. I remember when Theo van Gogh was still alive he would consistently refer to muslims as “goat f*ckers” in his books and in the media. That did not get him killed, it was the much more reasonable movie linked to in Jerry’s post. It is such a paradox that they are so much more sensitive to “reasonable dissent” than to being offended (save the lame cartoons). For this reason there needs to be more intellectual criticism, and that’s why Ali should not be hushed. They don’t state a single reason why they are against her speaking there.

  35. If you step back to the bigger picture.

    Liberal intellectuals all support equal rights for women. Ayaan Hirsi Ali passionately supports equal rights for women. Polls in Muslim majority nations show most citizens do not.

    Liberal intellectuals all support individual freedom to choose any religion or none at any time. Ayaan Hirsi Ali passionately supports this individual religious freedom. Polls in Muslim majority nations show most citizens do not.

    Liberal intellectuals all stand against antisemitism. Ayaan Hirsi Ali passionately supports this stand. Polls in Muslim majority nations show most citizens have deeply entrenched antisemitic views.

    Yet liberal intellectuals appear to hate Ayaan Hirsi Ali in general and her critique of Muslim values particularly. Whats going on?

  36. Most universities have “Freedom of Expression” statements, Yale’s is particularly powerful, even beautiful; a reminder for the privileged Yallies who signed the letter:

    First, some code of conduct: “Yale… members… pledge to help sustain the intellectual integrity of the University and to uphold its standards of honesty, free expression, and inquiry…”

    Freedom of Expression

    “The primary function of a university is to discover and disseminate knowledge… To fulfill this function a free interchange of ideas is necessary… It follows that the university must do everything possible to ensure within it the fullest degree of intellectual freedom. The history of intellectual growth and discovery clearly demonstrates the need for unfettered freedom, the right to THINK the UNTHINKABLE, DISCUSS the UNMENTIONABLE, and CHALLENGE the UNCHALLENGABLE. To curtail free expression strikes twice at intellectual freedom, for whoever deprives another of the right to state unpopular views necessarily also deprives others of the right to listen to those views.”

    “We take a chance, as the First Amendment takes a chance, when we commit ourselves to the idea that the results of free expression are to the general benefit in the long run, however unpleasant they may appear at the time…”

    “For if a university is a place for knowledge, it is also a special kind of small society. Yet it is NOT primarily a fellowship, a club, a circle of friends, a replica of the civil society outside it. Without sacrificing its central purpose, it cannot make its primary and dominant value the fostering of friendship, solidarity, harmony, civility, or mutual respect. To be sure, these are important values; other institutions may properly assign them the highest, and not merely a subordinate, priority; and a good university will seek and may in some significant measure attain these ends. But it will never let these values, important as they are, override its central purpose. We value freedom of expression precisely because it provides a forum for the new, the provocative, the disturbing, and the unorthodox. Free speech is a barrier to the tyranny of authoritarian or even majority opinion as to the rightness or wrongness of particular doctrines or thoughts.”

    “…Above all, every member of the university has an obligation to permit free expression in the university. No member has a right to prevent such expression. Every official of the university, moreover, has a special obligation to foster free expression and to ensure that it is not obstructed.”

    “…If freedom of expression is to serve its purpose and thus the purpose of the university, it should seek to enhance understanding. Shock, hurt, and anger are not consequences to be weighed lightly. No member of the community with a decent respect for others should use, or encourage others to use, slurs and epithets intended to discredit another’s race, ethnic group, religion, or sex. It may sometimes be necessary in a university for civility and mutual respect to be superseded by the need to guarantee free expression..”

    “We have considered the opposing argument that behavior which violates these social and ethical considerations should be made subject to formal sanctions, and the argument that such behavior entitles others to prevent speech they might regard as offensive. Our conviction that the central purpose of the university is to foster the free access of knowledge compels us to reject both of these arguments. They assert a right to prevent free expression. They rest upon the assumption that speech can be suppressed by anyone who deems it false or offensive. They deny what Justice Holmes termed ‘freedom for the thought that we hate.’ They make the majority, or any willful minority, the arbiters of truth for all. If expression may be prevented, censored, or punished, because of its content or because of the motives attributed to those who promote it, then it is no longer free. It will be subordinated to other values that we believe to be of lower priority in a university.”

    “…the paramount obligation of the university is to protect their right to free expression…”

    http://www.yale.edu/printer/bulletin/htmlfiles/grad/policies-and-regulations.html

  37. A fatwa on free speech, open evaluation and discourse. Fear, the hidden enemy rules at Yale. It’s cold grip is everywhere but in a university like Yale. What happened to balance and impartiality.

    ‘On guard’ D’Artagnan! I smell some numb nuts in our mist.

  38. If universities continue to allow Muslim orgs. to suppress the truths she tells, out of fear of Muslim violence / jihad, or out of a misguided sense of “fairness” or political correctness – we are going to see here what we see happening in GB: the rise of the rights of a minority that rejects their adopted nation’s culture, the loss of our identity as a free nation / free people, and a country that kowtows to threat and 7th century religious non-think.

  39. “The comments Ms. Hirsi Ali has made on Islam have been classified as hate speech and have been considered unprotected libel and slander.”

    Those, including the writer(s) of this letter, who think a person can sue for libel or slander on behalf of a group don’t actually understand the law regarding libel or slander.

    For a verbal statement or written statement to be actionable as slander or libel, it must be directed against a person. Making disparaging remarks of any kind against a group is generally not actionable under libel or slander law. The only exceptions to this are

    (1) “the group or class is so small that the statements are reasonably understood to refer to the individual in question;”

    or

    (2) “the circumstances make it reasonable to conclude that the statement refers particularly to the individual in question.”

    (source: http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/who-can-sue-defamation)

    The Muslim community is much too large for statements aimed at that community to be legally actionable.

  40. Nothing angers me so much as these attempts to suppress criticism of bad ideas. Recently I was at the University of Florida, and is my usual habit I browsed through the bookshelves of the university bookstore, in particular the science and humanities sections. No books by Ayaan Hirsi Ali were to found. Dawkins’ Selfish Gene and an Appetite For Wonder were there but no God Delusion. Present were Proof of Heaven, Darwins Doubt, and The Bonobo and The Atheist. Why I wondered? Probably political correctness and the fact that UF is located in the South where religion dare not be challenged.

  41. I heard, and saw her at the 2012 Global Atheist convention. She was interesting and engaging. We need to keep pushing back against attempts by those religious types intent on suppressing criticism of their beliefs.
    I mention that I saw her there because I saw something else as well. I happened to be wandering around the convention centre (I felt a bit ill), around the rear, not many people about, and I saw Ayaan, surrounded by three large guy’s, furtively looking around who moved her briskly to a waiting black limo, and off they went. The conference went on.
    I’m pretty sure no one else there had that circumstance. This is in one of the safest cities in the world.

    Imagine having to live like that, for having an opinion.

    1. Very enlightening experience I’m sure. It sounds as if the three big guys didn’t quite subscribe to the “our religion is a religion of peace” line of thought though, thankfully.

      1. It was kind of enlightening. Although I already knew of her situation, that little touch of ‘reality’ added something more. Hard to describe.

  42. I feel almost dirty making a semantic suggestion…

    For some purposes, in some contexts, I think we need to stop referring to Islam, Christianity, Judaism, et al. as “religions”. We should start calling them “ideologies”.

    Of course, they’re both: religions form a proper subset of of ideologies. But the broader term is more useful to see what’s going on (and perhaps more useful rhetorically, too). The MSA is asking that people not be asked to give talks about a well-known *ideology* – unless they have a relevant PhD in that ideology. Which means, of course, they’re unlikely to be critical: while some ideologies really are without merit (we all admit this, even if some of us won’t admit it when “religion” is substituted) – who would go to the trouble of writing a thesis, and being stuck specialising in, an ideology they perceived to be without merit?

  43. As things stand, the world remains upside down. The left rather than the right defends reactionary religion, as long as the reactionaries do not have a white skin. You should never tire of pointing out that they are complicit in an enormous betrayal of progressive principles. Women, gays, secularists, liberals and socialists from ethnic minorities ought to be able to turn to liberals and leftists for support against the patriarchal men, who seek to control them. Rather than fraternal greetings, they find indifference and hostility. The mainstream of liberal-left opinion in the universities, media, civil service, and Political parties have convinced themselves that it is culturally imperialist to demand that members of minorities should enjoy the same freedoms as the rest of us.

    This is why there has not been one prosecution for female genital mutilation. This is why, when 15-year-old white schoolgirl runs off to France with a teacher, the story leads the news, but when the parents of a Pakistani girl pull their daughter from class and force her to marry an old man —that is, when they organise her abduction and rape— liberal society stays silent. I should not need to add that multiculturalists who deny rights to people on the grounds of their ethnicity are every bit as racist as the white supremacists they profess to oppose.

    I think that the intellectual, humanist and secular parts of our society have effectively been paralysed by the thought of being called racist or islamophobic.
    We have a situation where a religion can subjugate women, can beat women and murder them in the name of “honour”. Where girls can be forced or pressured physically, socially, or emotionally into covering themselves in case men have sexual thoughts about them. Where girls can be taken out of school for a “holiday” to see the family but actually arrive to find they have been married off.
    All of these horrific things have their roots in Islam. Islam is the common denominator. Yet the very people you would expect to rise up against it in righteous fury, have been made impotent for fear of being labelled racists. It seems that champagne socialists turn a blind eye

    1. Excerpted from:

      http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2014/09/16/hirsi-ali-addresses-over-300/

      Hirsi Ali directly addressed the MSA during her speech, asking why the organization took the time and resources to “silence the reformers and dissidents of Islam,” including herself, rather than fighting against the violence, intolerance and indoctrination Hirsi Ali associates with Islam.

      “MSA students of Yale, you live at a time when Muslims are at a crossroads,” she said. “The Muslim world is on fire and those fanning the fire are using more creed. With every atrocity [they underscore] your commitment to Allah … Will you submit passively or actively, or will you finally stand up to Allah?”

      Hirsi Ali also responded to the MSA’s critique of her lack of academic credentials by saying that even scholars with substantial credentials who have criticized Islam have been “bullied into silence.”

      Rich Lizardo ’15, president of the Buckley Program, said the lecture could not have gone better, calling Hirsi Ali “insightful, eloquent and elegant.” He said he had been initially baffled by the attention given to the event, both inside and outside of campus, but he ultimately believes that it succeeded in diversifying intellectual thought at Yale.

  44. A religion that can’t take a little public criticism from a well-known “apostate” is weak. Unfortunately in their weakness its members are succeeding in intimidating persons who should know better.

  45. As a Dutchman it saddens me that Ayaan Hirsi Ali expierences in America the same burden of politic corectness of those who fear problems with the muslim community.
    As ever and everywhere muslims seems to succeed in oppressing criticism. It’s not weakness, it’s their need to dominate

  46. It is not fair to say that Yale per se called for Ayaan Hirsi Ali to be marginalised. Yale people invited her and withstood pressure to rescind or qualify the invitation. Several hundred members of the Yale community (including me) attended the event (or tried to – the venue was full to capacity). Hirsi Ali received two (and a half) standing ovations from an audience which was obviously very appreciative. Likewise, she seemed touched by the warmth of the welcome she received. The event closed with the reading of an audience member’s thanks to Hirsi Ali for being a life-changing, inspiring person.

    I was proud to be there, having just become a postdoc at Yale. There was no disruption of any kind by protestors. There was at least one young Muslim woman in the audience (I assume from her head scarf). I hope there were more.

    1. That kind of warm response is definitely good to hear. Together with her thoughtful remarks about the dissenters, it must have been a wonderful event to experience. I hope they made a video.

        1. What a superb speech ! Thank you so much for sharing the link. What a woman! I have admired her ever since reading Infidel when it first came out. I am also really impressed by her command of English, as well as her ability to respond on her feet. Let us hope this reaches more than a few Muslims in the middle group.

          1. Indeed, that was outstanding!

            Diana, her linguistic abilities are mind-blowing. I think that bespeaks an IQ that is probably off the charts, esp. when you look at her additional talents–a thorough knowledge of international affairs, politics, history, etc. (and yes, I do know that acquiring languages comes much easier to some than to others).

            I was struck by her continual use of the pronoun “we,” where many speakers tend to use “you,” instead–the all-inclusive “you” that means about the same thing in a speech (“If you want to build a better country you must…”). The “we” is immediately engaging and when she was using it to refer to US-ians in particular I felt a little pride; we hear so much USA-bashing (especially from ourselves ;)) that once in a while it’s humbling to know that there are still some tenets we (some of us anyway) hold that can and do inspire admiration from other parts of the world.

            I love the way she never beats around the bush–such as when she suggested we should pay more attention to supporting Islamic dissidents and less time “in bed with the Saudis.” Her spontaneous humor is delightful; “we [the USA; broader sense, the Western world] have “earned the right to be decadent.”

            Maybe 5-6 years ago I was at the FFRF conference in which she received the “Emperor Has No Clothes” award (a distinction shared with PCC); her speech was much lighter with lots of smiles and humor, though of course simultaneously stressing such things as the vital importance of critical thinking.

            I’ve called her one of my heroes for several years, now. What a privilege to listen to her.

            1. Indeed, as I watched her, I thought about all of the other Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s in Africa and the Middle East who are just as smart as she is but will never get her chances because they are forbidden to express their opinions, or even think for themselves.

  47. These Muslims, who don’t want Ayan Hirsi Ali to speak, are HATERS. They want to silence critical thinking. (Doesn’t Yale get millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia?).
    That’s what it’s about.

  48. I cut up my “liberal” membership card and burned it a long time ago. Too many of them are shining examples of that old saying, “If you open your mind too far, your brains fall out.” Many of these types would probably eagerly attend a lecture about “chemtrails”.

  49. I rather think it’s the fear that if one unfounded belief is allowed scrutiny others will follow. Oh dear what will become of us if we gain knowledge! Quick, run for the hills! Therein we find a good measure of tactic to avoid having to deal with it. Idiocy masquerading as liberal postmodernism.

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