With its censorship of the Mohammed imagery, Yale chose sharia. But that wasn't all. Wearing my hat as vice president of the International Free Press Society (IFPS), I asked Yale's Steven Smith, master of Branford College, one of Yale's 12 residential colleges, if he would be interested in hosting Kurt Westergaard, the most famous of the Danish cartoonists, at a "master's tea" for students. The IFPS was then finalizing Westergaard's U.S. tour long-planned to coincide with the fourth anniversary of the publication of the cartoons on Sept. 30.
Smith agreed and held the event on Oct. 1. And Yale, it seems, will never be the same.
Of course, Yale was already "never the same," something the Westergaard visit further confirmed. If the Western reaction to the Danish Mohammed cartoons exposed the humiliating bargain the West had already made with Islam, trading away freedom of the press in exchange for "community harmony," the Yale reaction to Westergaard's visit following its censorship of the Mohammed cartoons exposed the rotten fruit at the core of American academia: namely, the politically correct drive to censor material "offensive" to multiculturalism mated to the sharia-correct drive to censor material "offensive" to Islam.
Even now, institutional consternation at Yale over Westergaard continues. In the pages of the Yale Daily News, ire is directed at Westergaard's Yale host, Steven Smith, simply for having issued the invitation, as attested by letters from University Chaplain Sharon Kugler and "coordinator of Muslim Life for the University" Omer Bajwa, and even Smith's fellow Yale masters, Davenport College's Richard Schottenfeld and Tanina Rostain. At a panel this week sponsored by the Chaplain's Office and the Yale Muslim Student Association, several Yale professors discussed "what made the cartoons offensive ... and how the West's response heightened tension." (Given the West's near-universal capitulation, I'd like to have heard that last bit.)
The lesson here? Free speech about Islam at Yale is a liability: something to censor, oppose, even remove physically, as symbolized by the administration's decision to bus students to the edge of campus to attend Westergaard's talk. Campus security -- bomb-sniffing dogs, two SWAT teams -- was so extreme it stood as a reproach to critics of Islam, and perhaps as justification for Yale's decision to censor the cartoons in the first place.
Having shrouded free speech in the Islamic veil, Yale stands exposed.
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