Friday, April 11, 2014

Hirsi Ali and Liberal Core Values

By now you've probably heard about the contretemps surrounding Brandeis University's decision, under President Frederick Lawrence, to rescind its offer of an honorary doctorate degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. For those who may not know, Ali was a Somali girl who suffered a clitorectomy when she was young and was later married off against her will to a cousin living in Canada. En route to Canada via Germany, she took a train to the Netherlands and stayed. Eventually she ran for parliament and won.

She and another member of parliament, Theo van Gogh, great grandson of the famous artist, spoke out strongly against Islamic hatred and violence. Van Gogh was murdered in the street by a Muslim man who stuck a note in van Gogh's chest with a knife threatening Ali with the same fate. Here's Mark Steyn writing about her a number of years ago:
She lives under armed guard and was forced to abandon the Netherlands because quite a lot of people want to kill her. And not in the desultory behead-the-enemies-of-Islam you-will-die-infidel pro forma death-threats-R-us way that many of us have perforce gotten used to in recent years: her great friend and professional collaborator was murdered in the streets of Amsterdam by a man who shot him eight times, attempted to decapitate him, and then drove into his chest two knives, pinning to what was left of him a five-page note pledging to do the same to her.

What would you do in those circumstances? Would you be [going out in public] with a price on your head? Or would you duck out of sight, lie low, change your name, move to New Zealand, and hope one day to get your life back? After the threats against the Comedy Central show South Park the other week, Ms. Hirsi Ali turned up on CNN to say that the best defence against Islamic intimidation is for us all to stand together and thereby "share the risk." But, around the world, every single translator of her books has insisted on total anonymity. When push comes to shove, very few are willing to share the risk.
Ali resigned from parliament when it was discovered that she had made false statements when she originally entered the country. Under constant threat of death for her outspoken criticisms of Islam and her apostasy (she became an atheist) she fled to the U.S. where she's accompanied by bodyguards twenty four hours a day. Still, despite the threats, she speaks out. She's a woman of incredible courage, a courage that dwarfs the pusillanimous administration of Brandeis University which sniffs that she doesn't reflect their "core values" because she once called Islam a “a destructive, nihilistic cult of death.”

Here's an example of the sort of thing Ali has been inveighing against. It's an illustration of what's happening to Christians throughout the Muslim world. This young Saudi girl, according to the source, had her eye and lips sewn shut because she had the impertinence to declare out loud in the presence of her Muslim employer, that Jesus was her savior.
Because Ali has had the courage to publicly condemn atrocities like this, and the beliefs which motivate them, Brandeis has decided that she is at odds with their "core values." One wonders what sort of values these might be with which Ali is in conflict.

You can find more commentary on Brandeis' decision to withdraw its offer to award Ali an honorary degree here.