On this Thanksgiving Day, Nidra Poller recalls a notorious Halloween incident:
OK, it was Halloween, but the incident didn’t occur in the heart of a black forest. University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann stood next to a shahid and didn’t see anything wrong with the photo-op. The shahid, who claims to have meant no harm, was so proud he splashed the slideshow on his blog with touching honesty, showing how the fairy tale enchantment of the intelligentsia opens the way to further jihad hijinks. He played the role to the hilt, mocking beheadings, enrollment of child soldiers, rape of liberty”¦ And we are to believe it was just a student’s prank?
The reaction of academics, with rare exceptions, is as distressing as the incident. So calmly academic, so academically willing to explore the issue from the podium of every appropriate disciple, so patient, so collegial even in the harshest situations. As if we had 80 years to work out the kinks in our response to jihad.
President Gutmann apologized? And when she saw that her first apology hadn’t quite done the trick, she ironed it out””like her princess costume””and apologized again, better, less ambiguously. If she were a woman she would have resigned. And the student apologized too? Now all we need is an apology from Osama bin Laden and all our little cartoon characters can go back to their peaceful pursuits in fairyland.
In fact, President Gutmann’s first apology was the sincere one: the young man has the right to wear a mass-murderer costume and we have the right to say we don’t like it. Never mind the logical extension: mass murderers have the right to kill us and we have the right to say we don’t like it.
What elixir put this distinguished university president to sleep? May I suggest that she swallowed the “I am against the war in Iraq” one-shot ethics pill? What war in Iraq are they against? The war of the very jihadis honored by Saad Saadi’s cute costume and ghoulish re-enactments? No, not that war. Are they against the war of Iraqi against Iraqi, the war of Iranians, Syrians, Palestinians and assorted umma jihad legions against the possibility of decent life in Iraq? No, they are not against that war. Are they against the 3-week war in Iraq that toppled Saddam Hussein? Are they against the war in Iraq that keeps jihadis from fighting us in downtown Manhattan or Desmoines, Iowa?
“I am against the war in Iraq” is a window shade drawn over a terrifying reality: someone is at war against us. Someone would be at war against us if Jews were not in Israel, Americans were not in Iraq, and Europeans were not in Europe. Behind that window shade atrocities occur, mass murder is plotted, networks expand, Jew-hatred boils and, at the end of the day, Israel is being groomed to play the sacrificial lamb.
Time is running out. There is nothing academic about the danger that breathes down our necks.
What destroyed the vigilance of President Gutmann, whose father escaped from the Nazis? What does the academic community in the U.S. share with European societies? Why are we unable to clearly identify and effectively combat this lethal blindness? What will become of us if our citizens cannot break out of this one-crop ethics and learn again to discipline their minds?
President Gutmann did not SEE the shahid because she lives in an intellectual community that cannot see the shahid. The student who came to the party dressed as a shahid should not be gently scolded or suspended for a semester; he should be excluded from the university and all institutions of higher learning in the United States. A university president can’t see a shahid? A student can play the shahid and pretend he didn’t mean to offend? And it’s nothing more than a topic of discussion?
“So you”re saying that on Halloween it’s okay to dress up as a ghost or a witch or a Frankenstein monster but shahid costumes are verboten? So what about the Mohamed cartoons? Weren’t they offensive to Muslims? Where do you draw the line?”
A U of P student cannot come dressed as a shahid because we are at war and shahids are enemy combatants. It’s not funny at the moment. It may be funny one day, like pirates, after we have won. When we don’t understand the distinction we cannot draw the line and we don’t see the truth right in front of our noses.
Intellectual tricks have made people believe that the war being waged against us””the jihad””is an automated response to our own faux pas. “I”m against the war in Iraq” is a code name that means “We have no right to fight back because we are guilty, we deserve to be destroyed.”
So, which shall it be? Trick or treat?