Censorship at Boston College

Posted: Sep 10, 2007 12:00 AM
Censorship at Boston College

As colleges start up again this week, there is big news from Boston College. The school has decided to censor my debate with its star professor Alan Wolfe. After promising for months that the debate would be posted on its website, Boston college has decided not to air it. Moreover, Wolfe has denied permission for the college to make the video available to anyone.

It's a strange story, and I was on the Hannity & Colmes show recently to discuss it. Basically the whole thing started when the editors of the New York Times Book Review decided to commission a hit job on my book The Enemy at Home. Their selected intellectual assassin was Alan Wolfe, who heads the Boisi Center for Religion at Boston College. Wolfe was only too happy to oblige, and he pulled out all the stops, calling me a "childish thinker" and my book a "national disgrace."

Whoopdee do, and who cares. I mean, I am used to these kind of jejune accusations. But Wolfe went beyond the usual invective and called me a Bin Laden suitor. He suggested that I admire the Islamic terrorists, and implied that I agreed with them that America was a terrible place that should be attacked. I am an immigrant and a patriot, one of my recent books is titled What's So Great About America, and this year I got a patriot of the year award from a Midwest chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Naturally I was outraged that Wolfe had lied so blatantly about me and my book in an influential national newspaper.

When students at Boston College asked me to come and speak, I recalled that this was the institution where Wolfe teaches. So I asked the students to invite Wolfe to debate me, and to my delight, he agreed. Although I would be debating on Wolfe's home turf, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to confront him and call him on his outlandish accusations. We debated in April before a full auditorium. Prior to the debate, the media arm of Boston College--which calls itself Front Row--asked us to the participants to give permission for the debate to be taped for the school's website. We readily consented. But alas, the debate didn't go the way that Boston College envisioned.

First, I challenged Wolfe to substantiate his extreme charges against me. Not only had he suggested I was a Bin Laden disciple, but in the debate itself he claimed I support sharia or Muslim holy law in the United States and that I want America to ally with people who deny the Holocaust. I demanded that he back up these claims, and he couldn't substantiate a single one. He didn't even try. At one point he said that what he wrote must be true because otherwise the New York Times wouldn't have printed it. Even the liberals in the audience found this laughable. So Wolfe's failure to support his outrageous charges exposed him as an irresponsible slanderer.

Second, I had the opportunity before his own students and colleagues to explore Wolfe's knowledge of Islam. During the cross-examination, I asked Wolfe a series of simple questions about the Muslim world. What percentage of Muslims around the globe live in a democracy? He had no idea. Which is the largest Muslim country in the world? He answered, "India," which is not a Muslim country at all. (The correct answer is Indonesia, which also happens to be a democracy.) I then asked him to name the world's second largest Muslim democracy? Once again Wolfe ventured, "India?" (The correct answer is Bangladesh.) And on it went. I looked into the audience and saw many students, including Wolfe's fans, with their mouths open. They couldn't believe that one of their college's most distinguished professors had been exposed as a complete ignoramus. Remember that this is a fellow who heads the religion center at Boston College.

Even two weeks after the debate, nothing was posted on the Boston College website. When the student organizers inquired, school officials said they had quite a backlog and gave their assurance the debate would be aired in a couple of months. Now they have decided not to show it at all. Wolfe, of course, could easily give his permission for Front Row to release to the tape, in which case I will be happy to post it unedited on my website and link to it on this blog.

But Wolfe has refused to give his consent. This way Wolfe can prevent the world from discovering how ignorant and irresponsible he is. And by colluding with him, officials at Boston College can prevent parents and others from seeing that their intellectual emperor has no clothes.

So what can you do? Write Wolfe at wolfe@bc.edu and demand that he release the tape. And email me at dineshjdsouza@aol.com and let me know what you think of this episode.