Condoleezza Rice, our former secretary of state, is the latest public figure to be chased off a university campus by the bullies, formally known as student protesters. She had been scheduled to deliver this year's commencement address at Rutgers, but decided to call it off rather than face the mob. So she gets to join the ranks of heroines who have been sacrificed to the type of "thinkers" whose response to any idea they don't like is not to debate it but censor it.
The academy, which ought to be the last refuge of free expression, has now become the first place where it's shut down in 2014 America. This contemporary version of the trahison des clercs, the treason of the intellectuals, is now in full and odious flower on our most prestigious campuses. For another example, see Brandeis University. It has just rescinded its offer of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whose whole life has been a struggle for the values that ought to mark a real university. Values like respect for human dignity and the free exchange of ideas.
Biographical sketch: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, born in Somalia, evaded the usual arranged marriage with a stranger, and began speaking out against the suppression of women in general in that traditionally Islamic society. She had to flee to Holland, where she was elected to parliament and worked with Theo van Gogh (yes, a descendant of the famous painter) on "Submission," a film exposing the treatment of women in Islamic societies.
Theo van Gogh's reward for his art and courage was to be shot down on the street, and then almost decapitated by an Islamic fanatic wielding a butcher knife, who plunged another knife into his bullet-riddled body. Attached to it was a five-page screed that threatened Ms. Hirsi Ali, who had to be put into police custody for her own protection -- until the Dutch took away her safe house.
That's when she fled to this country, formerly the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, became an American citizen, and continued to speak her mind unafraid and unintimidated. Like any true American. For more details see her autobiography, "Infidel."
No wonder any American university would honor the lady. But then the thought police went after her. Her crime? Telling some inconvenient truths about Islamic societies, and Brandeis decided to rescind its offer of an honorary degree to someone whose honor has impressed freedom-loving people everywhere.
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