Friday, May 11, 2012

Censorship by the Mob

I remember the days when liberals would stand on the barricades proclaiming that though they may despise what you say they'll defend to the death your right to say it. That seems like such a long time ago. Today liberals are much more likely to cave under even the mildest pressure and fire someone who voices any opinion that aggrieves any member of an approved minority group.

That's what happened to Naomi Riley at The Chronicle of Higher Education who had the insolence to scoff at the academic frivolousness that typifies so much black studies scholarship. For stating out loud what most people already know and thereby rousing the ever-alert liberal speech police who read the Chronicle, Ms Riley found herself thrown unceremoniously into the street.

There was no discussion about whether what she said was actually true - truth is irrelevant in these matters, you understand - it's that many readers found it offensive that she would actually poke fun at a field that is, in fact, eminently pokable, but which is a refuge of liberal black intellectuals who probably couldn't succeed in a legitimate academic discipline.

Jonathan Last of The Weekly Standard has the details:
Late last night, in a shameful example of editorial cowardice, the Chronicle of Higher Education fired Naomi Schaefer Riley. Naomi is a good friend of mine, a sometimes contributor to The Weekly Standard and a fine writer. And the story of what happened to her is highly instructive....

Last week she wrote about the world of “Black Studies” in a post titled “The most persuasive case for getting rid of Black Studies? Read the dissertations.” You should read the whole thing, because it’s only 520 words, but here’s the gist of Naomi’s argument:
I just got around to reading The Chronicle’s recent piece on the young guns of black studies. If ever there were a case for eliminating the discipline, the sidebar explaining some of the dissertations being offered by the best and the brightest of black-studies graduate students has made it. What a collection of left-wing victimization claptrap. The best that can be said of these topics is that they’re so irrelevant no one will ever look at them.

That’s what I would say about Ruth Hayes’ dissertation, “‘So I Could Be Easeful’: Black Women’s Authoritative Knowledge on Childbirth.” It began because she “noticed that nonwhite women’s experiences were largely absent from natural-birth literature, which led me to look into historical black midwifery.” How could we overlook the nonwhite experience in “natural birth literature,” whatever the heck that is? It’s scandalous and clearly a sign that racism is alive and well in America, not to mention academia.
Naomi then went on to dissect two other incredibly silly “Black Studies” dissertations. One of these was written by TaSha B. Levy. Here’s how the Chronicle itself—not Naomi—described Levy’s work:
Ms. Levy is interested in examining the long tradition of black Republicanism, especially the rightward ideological shift it took in the 1980s after the election of Ronald Reagan. Ms. Levy’s dissertation argues that conservatives like Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, John McWhorter, and others have “played one of the most-significant roles in the assault on the civil-rights legacy that benefited them.”
Chronicle readers were outraged. Not that a graduate student was earning a doctorate by claiming that Sowell, Thomas, and McWhorter are threats to civil rights. Oh, no. They were outraged because Naomi would dare poke fun at such insanity. Because, you know, that’s racist.

Eight days and 497 comments later, the Chronicle’s Liz McMillen fired Naomi.
You should follow the link to read McMillen's rationale for firing Riley. It's a wonderful profile in pusillanimity. What McMillen says, without saying it, is that she succumbed to the pressure of the outraged mob to silence a voice with which they disagree.

I wonder if Riley had been a black blogger writing about, say, the superficiality of the religious beliefs of white liberal protestants if she would have been fired. I know. Silly question. Liberals don't fire anyone for offending whites, especially religious whites, and besides, white liberal protestants don't take their religion seriously enough to be offended by a someone poking fun at it anyway.

In the Cathedrals of liberal academia there's only so much tolerance for dissenting opinions, and those who show themselves guilty of the heresy of making fun of a sacred scholarly endeavor, like those unfortunate Muslims who have the temerity to blaspheme Islam by parodying its dogmas, must be put to the sword, so to speak.

Nowhere do we find more intolerance than among those liberals for whom tolerance is supposed to be the highest virtue.

Permanent War

The White House and its subsidiary offices seem to be in a state of denial concerning Muslim extremism. They refuse to publicly acknowledge what everyone in every mosque seems to recognize which is that there's a war against the West being waged by a substantial fraction of the Islamic world. Strategy Page has a good piece on this strange delusion.

Here's part of it:
The senior commander in the U.S. military recently ordered a course taught at a staff school for the last eight years to be revised to eliminate any mention of a war between Islam and the West. The course (“Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism”) pointed out that Islam, at least according to many Islamic clerics, is at war with the West.

The U.S. has officially denied that since shortly after September 11, 2001, despite the fact that many Islamic clerics and government officials in Moslem nations agree with the "Islam is at war with the West" idea. But many Western leaders prefer to believe that by insisting that such hostile attitudes are not widespread in Moslem countries, the hostility will diminish.

To that end the U.S. government has, for years, been removing any reference to "Islam" and "terrorism" in official documents. This comes as a shock to military or civilian personnel who have spent time in Moslem countries. The "Islam is at war with the West" angle is alive and well among Moslems.
The article goes on to amass a lot of evidence for this claim, and the entire essay is well-worth reading.

Islam is not just at war with the West, however, they're at war with anyone who is not a Muslim as well as any Muslim who is not of the same sect as they. Islamic terrorism accounts for over 95% of all the terrorism in the world, and almost all religious violence is instigated by Muslims against Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Baha'is, and other Muslims.

Nor is this a recent development. The slaughter started with Mohammed in the 7th century and continued for over 700 years directed primarily against Christians and Jews. It abated for a time because Muslim civilization degenerated to the point where it could no longer strike against enemies beyond its borders, so they contented themselves with simply killing each other. The twentieth century, however, brought the discovery of oil and with it unimagined riches as well as access to weaponry and technology they could never have developed on their own. Now they're able to purchase and employ modern weapons in their jihad to make the whole world submit to Allah.

Some observers have emphasized that the radicals are just a small percentage of the Muslim population, which may be true, but it's not very comforting. There are a billion Muslims in the world. If only 1% of them are radical extremists who want to kill you and your children that's still one million terrorists on the loose. Moreover, many of the rest are sympathetic to the goals of the radicals, and most of the remainder who aren't sympathetic are too intimidated to do anything about the malignancy in their midst.

We find ourselves immersed in a war that began some 1300 years ago and will not end in any of our lifetimes. It may ebb and flow, but too many Muslims believe that it's Allah's will that they purge the world of all unbelievers, and as long as they believe this, as long as they believe that they'll be rewarded in Paradise if they contribute to the bloodshed, and as long as we're dependent upon their oil and keep pumping our billions into their bank accounts, there'll be no end to the violence.

We may, like the last two administrations, foolishly pretend that Islam is not really waging a permanent, existential war against the rest of the world, but the moment we relax and believe that fantasy, we'll be hit again as we were in the 90s and on 9/11. The next time, though, it may well be nuclear bombs rather than jet airliners that are used against us.