No Honorary Degree for Ayaan Hirsi Ali

2014-04-23 Ayaan Hirsi AliEarlier this month, Time posted a letter written by Ayaan Hiris Ali, which she had written in response to Brandeis University’s decision not to give her an honorary degree after all. If a university decides not to give someone an award, you can pretty safely bet it’s because someone might be offended. But it’s always interesting to me when the person who might be offended (in this case the primary victim appears to be CAIR) and the alleged victimizer (Ali) are both members of politically correct identity groups. After all, Ali is not only a woman, but also black. She is also a woman’s rights activist. But she’s an atheist and a harsh critic of Islam. So who do you side with, the WoC1 or Islam?2

I’m partially interested in this out of morbid fascination, like watching a car crash. But it’s also a kind blend of fatalism and professional interest. Given my aspirations (to be a fiction writer) and my politics (anything other than party-line left) it’s more or less a question of how much I’m going to pay for my beliefs, professionally speaking, not whether or not I will. So, which are the most taboo taboos? What matters more?

Turns out, though, we can’t really tell from this story. Ali is a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. Suddenly: everything is clear. Doesn’t really matter what the rest of her liberal bona fides may be; she is tainted by association with the right. She’s even married to Niall Ferguson (who is practically a colonial apologist) so there’s really no hope for her at all.

I guess Brandeis didn’t really have a hard call to make after all.

4 thoughts on “No Honorary Degree for Ayaan Hirsi Ali”

  1. You know the left can read this stuff, right? It’s the internet; “Dude, I’m standing RIGHT HERE,” kind of always applies.

    More seriously, I think the left could really benefit from more contact with your views. Posts like this seem to express a disdain that makes productive dialogue seem less likely.

  2. Kelsey-

    More seriously, I think the left could really benefit from more contact with your views. Posts like this seem to express a disdain that makes productive dialogue seem less likely.

    That’s a fair observation. I certainly try to keep a level tone for the most part, and I welcome input from folks who disagree (such as yourself). I do strive to have a conversation, as opposed to just going on rants.

    But every now and then I can’t help myself. I’m curious, though, what do you think about this story?

  3. I don’t know enough. I’ve heard about it from a number of conservative sources, most of whom seem more focused on drumming up outrage than doing research into what might have motivated the decision. The quotations used in the announcement linked in her letter seem not only pretty offensive on their own, but particularly inflammatory in connection with a university with a strong Jewish history. She mentions that her critics have taken her out of context, and it’s certainly plausible that those seeking signatures on a petition would do exactly that. But I’ve just looked at the interview from which the comments were taken, and it seems pretty accurate. She wants the government to prevent even the peaceful spread of Islam. I could pull a lot of quotes to support that claim, but that’s no way to avoid the accusation of pulling things out of context.

    I’m glad we can say the things she says. I’m also glad that we can publicly denounce them as hateful. It sounds like Reason agrees. All of that said, the condemnation of her views might be unfair–perhaps she doesn’t stand by her apparent condemnation of Islam. So Brandeis might have been overreacting for all I know. But the condescension aimed at them seems pretty disconnected from the reality that there are a lot of Muslims justifiably angry with her, and some of them were going to be graduating that day.

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