What Was Brandeis Thinking When It Invited Ayaan Hirsi Ali to Speak?

imageWhat Was Brandeis Thinking When It Invited Ayaan Hirsi Ali to Speak?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 – Moment  Moment Media Ethics – Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaks in Switzerland in 2011.

Last week, Brandeis revoked an invitation it had offered to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born feminist and political essayist, to attend the university’s commencement ceremonies, where she had been scheduled to speak and receive an honorary degree. Hirsi Ali has spent much of the last decade denouncing not just Islamist fundamentalism but Islam generally (she has described the religion as a “destructive, nihilistic cult of death”), and once Brandeis’s Muslim Students Association and many others objected to her appearance, the university pretty hastily revoked her invitation. Conservatives have since denounced Brandeis for suppressing free speech, and liberals have, somewhat more tepidly, defended the university’s position that Hirsi Ali’s statements are incompatible with its core values of tolerance and openness and respect for others. Both arguments have some merits. But neither really addressed the more interesting question, which is what Brandeis misunderstood about Hirsi Ali and its own community when it invited her in the first place.

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The Ayaan Hirsi Ali Controversy Is About Double Standards, Not Freedom of Speech

imageThe Ayaan Hirsi Ali Controversy Is About Double Standards, Not Freedom of Speech

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the outspoken (this is almost a euphemism) Somali-Dutch opponent of Islam, was recently offered an honorary degree by Brandeis University. The school, which apparently only recently became acquainted with some of her comments about the Islamic faith, decided to revoke the offer of the honorary degree and instead invite her to campus for a dialogue. Hirsi Ali, not surprisingly given the brouhaha, has declined the latter invitation. A predictable debate has ensued about freedom of speech, campus politics, and double standards.

But the real question is why so many people are coming to the defense of a person who has voiced views as misguided as Hirsi Ali’s. (Various conservative—and even moderate—outlets have expressed dismay and anger at the decision.) It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that there is a double standard at work—and that making nasty comments about Islam is somehow more acceptable than making them about other faiths.

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University rescinds decision to honor Hirsi Ali

imageAfter a torrent of public outrage from the greater Brandeis community, University administration has rescinded the offer of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a controversial political and women’s rights activist, due to statements that she has made publically that criticize Islam.

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali degree is an insult to Muslim students

imageThe Brandeis Muslim Student Association has worked endlessly to integrate itself into the Brandeis community, to be an active club on campus and make the student body more comfortable with Islam. It is with great sadness that we learn of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s selection as an honorary degree recipient. We see this decision as a personal attack on Brandeis’ Muslim students, and as minorities at a predominately white, Jewish university, many of us feel isolated and unwelcomed.

The irony of Brandeis University’s motto, “Truth, even unto its innermost parts” and the University’s decision to bestow an honorary degree on Ali, a woman whose political and public platform is anti-Islamic, is startling, unacceptable and intolerable.

We understand what Hirsi Ali has gone through. She has overcome horrific experiences in her lifetime, and she has the right to share her experiences however she sees will benefit society.

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imageSahara Aden wore traditional dress to perform a Somali Bantu spiritual dance. (Photo by Rick Brown)

Sahara Aden swayed and pirouetted in her bright red traditional dress, enacting a spiritual dance of her Somali Bantu people.

The dance was Somali, but the venue was Milwaukee’s Washington Park.

Having traveled thousands of miles from a Kenyan refugee camp to build a new life in Milwaukee, Sahara was one of several presenters representing their culture and building community networks at a recent Multicultural Exploration Night at the Our Next Generation (ONG) center.

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Breivik Tried to Undermine CounterJihad, Admits Nazi Goals

imageThis won’t prevent the umpteenth New York Times article counting how many times Breivik’s manifesto had Robert Spencer’s name in it, never mind that most of those instances came from a pasted document filled with quotes on terrorism from mainstream experts and elected officials, but it does fit in with his actual plan of action which involved mass murder and allying with Islamic terrorists to take over parts of Europe.

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First Somali elected to Minneapolis City Council


                                          Multicultural Society

Wednesday, November 06, 2013 – Abdi Warsame made history Tuesday by becoming the highest elected Somali in the country, winning a seat on the City Council in a landslide.

Two decades after a wave of East Africans arrived in Minneapolis to escape civil war, they emerged as a political force to elect one of their own for the first time to City Hall, jumping out of their seats at a Cedar-Riverside theater to cheer, clap and embrace one another as War­same took the stage.

It was part of a sweeping turnover on the City Council, where seven new members will be sworn in next year. Two other challengers knocked out incumbents by a 2-1 margin in wards spanning Uptown, the North Loop and Northeast, and the council seemed likely to have its first Hmong and Hispanic members when all votes are counted.

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