Cliff May

Remember when colleges prided themselves on the diligence and depth of their research? Frederick Lawrence, president of Brandeis University, apparently does not. He offered an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Then, at the last minute, he rescinded the offer because, he claims, he became aware of “past statements” by her “inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.” Hey Scholar-in-Chief, ever hear of Google?

Ms. Hirsi Ali, of course, is an intrepid women’s rights advocate who has focused on Muslim women, raising questions, as she has phrased it, on “the role of Islam in legitimizing” female genital mutilation, “honor killings,” forced marriages, wife beating and other abuses.

At Brandeis – and, sad to say, on most campuses nowadays -- such inquiry is denounced as "Islamophobic" and suppressed. If more Muslim women are victimized as a result, that’s a price our elite educators are willing to pay – or, more precisely, to let Muslim women pay.

Eighty-five faculty members signed what the distinguished historian, Jeffrey Herf, who earned his doctorate from Brandeis in 1981, called a “document of intolerance” toward Ms. Hirsi Ali. But she places most of the blame for Brandeis’ volte-face on her “usual critics, notably the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).”

Spokesmen for CAIR -- an unindicted co-conspirator in a case involving Hamas, a federally designated terrorist organization -- have responded by saying that while they vehemently oppose honoring Ms. Ali, they nevertheless support her right to free speech.

That claim is blatantly contradicted by CAIR’s persistent attempts to block screenings of “The Honor Diaries,” a powerful, new film about gross violations of women’s human rights in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other corners of the “Muslim world,” and the uphill battle of Muslim reformers against Muslim fundamentalists. Ms. Hirsi Ali is the film’s executive producer, and among the women -- several of whom are devout Muslims -- prominently featured in it. My strong recommendation: Defy CAIR; see the movie.


Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.