To appreciate, and apprehend, the full extent and irony of Brandeis' capitulation to the worst sort of "intellectuals" on American campuses, it might help to recall whom that university was named for, and when and why it was founded. Louis Dembitz Brandeis was a fighting lawyer and visionary advocate of human rights out of Louisville, Ky., who gave his name to a reliance on facts and statistics in legal argument: the "Brandeis Brief." He would go on to be appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States by Woodrow Wilson, and become one of the great justices in modern American history thanks to his combination of eloquence, logic and independence.
For example, Mr. Justice Brandeis joined both the court's conservatives and liberals when, in a unanimous decision, all of them, from left to right, struck down the National Industrial Recovery Act as unconstitutional in 1935. By then the National Recovery Administration's ubiquitous Blue Eagle had become the symbol of the New Deal's ambitious attempt to remake the American economy in the image of Mussolini's corporate state, complete with price-fixing trusts for every industry and trade. That's right: for every sector of the American economy. Not just medical care, which is what Obamacare has set out to take over.
So it was only natural that, in the post-World War II years, when a new, instantly great university was founded by largely Jewish donors, that it would be named for Mr. Justice Brandeis, for its founders had finally grown tired of watching the Ivy League set quotas on Jewish admissions.
But now that same university has caved in to the kind of intimidation Louis D. Brandeis fought all his life. An honorable historian and once proud Brandeis alumnus, Jeffrey Herf, wrote an open letter in response to its president's "cowardice and appeasement" in snubbing Ayaan Hirsi Ali, another great crusader for human rights. It's a letter worth quoting on this sordid occasion:
"That the president of a university founded by Jews in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust should have rescinded an honor to a woman who has had the courage to attack the most important source of Jew-hatred in the world today is a disgraceful act and a failure of leadership." To say the least.
This kind of suppression of any idea that doesn't fit into today's lockstep liberalism is all too typical of an attitude that isn't liberal at all. No wonder those intent on foisting their own prejudices on the rest of us would prefer some other name to go under -- like progressives. Although there's a better, simpler name for them that might sum up their whole approach to the issues of the day: the illiberals.