"We're all guilty" seems to the philosophy of Brandeis, the Boston University which has uninvited Ayaan Hirsi Ali from receiving an honourary doctorate at their commencement exercises this spring. The school noted:
She is a compelling public figure and advocate for women’s rights, and we respect and appreciate her work to protect and defend the rights of women and girls throughout the world. That said, we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University's core values. For all concerned, we regret that we were not aware of these statements earlier.
Since they don't name the statements, we must conclude that they concern her dislike of Islam, for the following reasons:
- Ms Ali was raised as a Muslim;
- She was mutilated as a child according to the dictates of that religion;
- She was forcibly married to a man she didn't know (as I recall from her biography, she wasn't even at the wedding ceremony, because marriage-by-proxy was another acceptable custom;
- She was disillusioned by her faith, which considered women to be 2nd class persons;
- She spoke up about her concerns and has had death threats from Muslims ever since.
None of these things are disputed; the faculty has shown its anger at the school's choice in another way. In the words of Bernadette Brooten, a Brandeis professor in the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department :
We stressed that we recognize the harm of female genital cutting, forced marriages, and honor killings, but that this selections obscures the violence against women that happens among non-Muslims, including on our own campus.
Amazing. In that sense, would the opposite be true? A woman from the Domestic Violence Center in Boston would be rejected because honouring her wouldn't draw attention to harassment in the workplace? Or a Date Rape counselor would be rejected because she didn't shed light on rapes by strangers?
What is this all-or-nothing approach but a veil over the legitimate sources of discrimination against women? Islam is not the only font of mysogyny on the planet but it is a significant one. No one expects one person to tackle every problem, but simply the one that falls into his or her lap. By this standard, Nelson Mandela should never have been honoured because he didn't deal with the "untouchables" in India.
What a farce. Remember that on the issues of religious liberty, the dignity of women, and even "reproductive freedom," Brandeis agrees with the secularist Ms Ali, not the Koran. but diversity always has its limits. The Brandeis motto, "Truth, Even Unto Its Innermost Parts" seems to have met its match in today's geopolitics.
UPDATE: Ayaan Hirsi Ali offered this response:
“What did surprise me was the behavior of Brandeis. Having spent many months planning for me to speak to its students at Commencement, the university yesterday announced that it could not “overlook certain of my past statements,” which it had not previously been aware of. Yet my critics have long specialized in selective quotation – lines from interviews taken out of context – designed to misrepresent me and my work. It is scarcely credible that Brandeis did not know this when they initially offered me the degree.
“What was initially intended as an honor has now devolved into a moment of shaming. Yet the slur on my reputation is not the worst aspect of this episode. More deplorable is that an institution set up on the basis of religious freedom should today so deeply betray its own founding principles. The 'spirit of free expression' referred to in the Brandeis statement has been stifled here, as my critics have achieved their objective of preventing me from addressing the graduating Class of 2014. Neither Brandeis nor my critics knew or even inquired as to what I might say. They simply wanted me to be silenced. I regret that very much.
“Not content with a public disavowal, Brandeis has invited me 'to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues.' Sadly, in words and deeds, the university has already spoken its piece. I have no wish to 'engage' in such one-sided dialogue. I can only wish the Class of 2014 the best of luck—and hope that they will go forth to be better advocates for free expression and free thought than their alma mater.
“I take this opportunity to thank all those who have supported me and my work on behalf of oppressed woman and girls everywhere.”
Muslims have studied multiculturalism well and are exploiting its gaping deficiencies. And to think that the people who founded this university had fled from the very fascism that now hounds the woman they've disinvited. And they side with the brownshirts this time. Perplexing.