Nonie Darwish was scheduled to speak at two famous American universities. She was invited not by the universities themselves, but by student groups. And it was by student groups that she was dis-invited, groups that were responding to enormous pressure from Muslims on campus. Is this purely a private matter, in which university administrations have no role to play? Are they simply to observe, with disinterest, the spectacle all over the country of those who wish to speak about Islam in terms other than flattering, being hounded, harassed, having pies thrown at them, enduring campaigns of vilification before, during, and after their few appearances, or even — as in the just-concluded dismal spectacle involving Nonie Darwish, never having a chance to present their views, no matter how well-informed or well-reasoned.
Is there, then, a positive duty to seek to protect free speech by taking a special interest in speakers who, because of the nature of their subject matter, should be heard most of all? Their subject matter, currently, has caused recent American governments to spend between two and three trillion dollars. And if many more people could achieve the right understanding of Islam, I believe that they would sensibly endorse policies that would not require the expenditure of two-three trillion dollars. Surely the presidents of American universities have a stake in helping our benighted rulers to find more effective, cunning, and less expensive ways to deal with the problem of Islam and those of its adherents who take their Islam straight up, not on the rocks, modified by time, custom, perceived present self-interest. Few in the West are willing, right now, to rock the boat too violently, as they may be willing when their numbers, and power, increase.
Yes, there is such a duty. And it is not a duty that is being fulfilled. So, while deploring the decisions of the student groups who uninvited, having previously invited, Nonie Darwish, one understands that they were no doubt affected by the general atmosphere of the universities of this country. Few among the Administrators and the Faculty are openly insisting that those who wish to speak about Islam should be invited, including the “defectors from the Army of Islam” — that is, such apostates as Nonie Darwish, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, and Ibn Warraq. Not only should they be invited, but in their audiences administrators and faculty members should prominently show their faces. And in a hundred other ways they should make sure that the efforts of Muslims and their fellow travellers to keep out all such apostates, and all others who have intelligent and well-prepared observations on Islam, are thwarted. The apostates should be welcomed and well-protected. The university administration should makes clear that anyone at all who interrupts or disrupts such gatherings will be located and punished, if the law permits, and that those who are students will be expelled from the university. End of story.
Unfortunately, this is not the case as of now. But it can be made the case. University presidents can be made, if they haven’t yet, to listen, and to do their duty. Not, however, through appeals to morality, to free speech principles, to the threat of Islam that is akin, some believe, to the threats of both Fascism and Communism, but even more insidious because the word “religion” is allowed to disguise the real nature of this Total Belief-System.
The only thing those who now run American universities now understand, or care about, is money, and the possibility of donations or the withholding of donations. Let alumni be properly informed about this. Let them be properly informed about the further scandal of MEALAC program at Columbia, with Joseph Massad (awarded, in violation of the university’s own rules, tenure — about which the university will not publicly say a word), the PLO propagandist Rashid Khalidi, the deplorable Hamid Dabashi (author of the famous “Ode to Edward Said,” which google), who is known to ironic Iranians in exile as “Hamid the Arab.” (Just imagine what Ms. Nafisi, in this country, or Abbas Kierostami, in Iran, think of the likes of Hamid Dabashi.) They should be properly informed about Princeton too, where the decadence is more likely to be obvious not in the Middle Eastern program (where the restraining effect of Bernard Lewis kept things decent for a long time — nothing like the Columbia situation could develop), but in other areas. The insensate haste and public gushing when Cornel West was not only “snapped up” by Princeton (see the statements of its Provost at the time) but given, absurdly, a University Professorship, are the kinds of things that those who give should be made aware of. Those donors should not only withhold contributions, but make clear to the Development Office, the beating heart of Columbia, Princeton, tutti quanti, that as long as such appointments are made, no money will be forthcoming.
It’s the only way. Beat them down. Take the money away. Do not replenish their endowments on which they took such foolish chances. Let the Presidents themselves of these places be replaced — by those who come as close as possible to Jacques Barzun in their understanding of “Teaching in America.” Don’t put up with the massads and the dabashis, the rashid-khalidis and cornel-wests.
And tell the universities why the cancellation of perfectly acceptable talks by Nonie Darwish, because of Muslim pressure, is unacceptable, and is one more nail in the coffin of donations.
Cut off their money. And if the unoffending faculty are hurt? Too bad. Let them, too, see what is going on, and add their voices to the chorus of those enraged at the cravenness, the pusillanimity, the irresponsibility, of those who run these places, and in so doing, as we know all know, do so very well for themselves.