Monday, April 28, 2014

Brandeis President defends hypocritical ban of women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali for her “intolerance”

Part of Fred Lawrence’s letter dated April 27, 2014 verbatim: “I made the decision to withdraw the honorary degree invitation previously extended to Ayaan Hirsi Ali with great consideration after I was made aware of extremely troubling statements she has made in the past that I believe are contrary to the core values of Brandeis, among them religious tolerance. Ms. Hirsi Ali has had a distinguished career on issues of human rights--advocating against violence toward women, forced marriages, honor killings, and female genital mutilation. As you may know, I am a staunch advocate for free speech and if this had simply been an invitation to speak on campus this would have been a clear decision.  However, an honorary degree is fundamentally different in that it unreservedly endorses an individual.”

I have been greatly dismayed by some of the frankly questionable decisions Brandeis has made over the years.  One example is the long term employment of Anita Hill.  Though well qualified on paper, given her past actions and accusations, she remains a controversial political figure ill-suited to represent a University whose motto claims to value Truth and moral character.  Equally bizarre to me is the fact that Brandeis, America’s premier culturally Jewish university, would give honorary degrees that “unreservedly endorse” individuals who are apparently outspokenly anti-Semitic.  This latest wrinkle, the president’s withdrawal of a well-deserved honor to the heroic Ayaan Hirsi Ali in order to capitulate to Muslim fanaticism is both mystifying and completely inexcusable.  It is said that evil flourishes when good men stand by and do nothing.  The same holds true for a university that sticks its collective head in its ample nether regions.

Re: ‘Academic dishonor at Brandeis; Ayaan Hirsi Ali discovers the truth about a university’s ‘core values’’ (Clifford D. May, The Washington Times, Commentary section)

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