Ayaan Hirsi Ali, is a Somali-born American women’s rights and atheist activist, writer and politician who is known for her views critical of female genital mutilation and Islam (based on the fact that as a child she suffered mutilation). In 2005, she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. She has also received several awards, including a free speech award from the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, the Swedish Liberal Party’s Democracy Prize, and the Moral Courage Award for commitment to conflict resolution, ethics, and world citizenship. In 2006 she published a memoir. The English translation in 2007 is titled Infidel.
Apparently her courage is not enough for Brandies University whose President first offered her an Honorary Doctorate then, rescinded the invite because of political correctness from the faculty.
Below is cowardly letter written by the Brandeis Faculty asking that the Invite To Ayaan Hirsi Ali be rescinded.
We are writing to urge you to rescind immediately the invitation to Ms. Ayaan Hirsi Ali for an honorary doctorate, a decision about which we are shocked and dismayed, owing to her virulently anti-Muslim public statements.
We further urge you to reinstitute the past practice of a faculty committee that vets potential honorary degree recipients. Such a committee would surely have warned you about the horrible message that this sends to the Muslim and non-Muslim communities at Brandeis and beyond.
A few of many examples will suffice. David Cohen quotes Ms. Hirsi Ali as saying: “Violence is inherent in Islam – it’s a destructive, nihilistic cult of death. It legitimates murder. The police may foil plots and freeze bank accounts in the short term, but the battle against terrorism will ultimately be lost unless we realise that it’s not just with extremist elements within Islam, but the ideology of Islam itself….Islam is the new fascism” (London Evening Standard, 2-7-07). Rogier van Bakel quotes her as follows: “Jews should be proselytizing about a God that you can quarrel with. Catholics should be proselytizing about a God who is love….Those are lovely concepts of God. They can’t compare to the fire-breathing Allah who inspires jihadism and totalitarianism.” Van Bakel notes religions’ ability to bring about change for good: “Do you think Islam could bring about similar social and political changes?” Ms. Hirsi Ali responds, “Only if Islam is defeated.” Van Bakel asks, “Don’t you mean defeating radical Islam?” To that she responds, “No. Islam, period.” (Reason, 11-07)
We are filled with shame at the suggestion that the above-quoted sentiments express Brandeis’s values.
The University bestows honorary degrees, in part, to “identify the University with the values expressed through the work and accomplishments of the honoree” and “draw positive attention to the University as an institution that respects and encourages such values and the manner in which those values are expressed.”
We are saddened that Brandeis would choose to honor such a divisive individual at commencement, a moment of unity for the Brandeis community. Her presence threatens to bring unnecessary controversy to an event that should rightly be about celebrating Brandeis’ graduates and their families.
Please know that, like Ms. Hirsi Ali, we fully recognize the harm of forced marriages; of female genital cutting, which can cause, among other public health problems, increased maternal and infant mortality; and of honor killings. These phenomena are not, however, exclusive to Islam.The selection of Ms. Hirsi Ali further suggests to the public that violence toward girls and women is particular to Islam or the Two-Thirds World, thereby obscuring such violence in our midst among non-Muslims, including on our own campus. It also obscures the hard work on the ground by committed Muslim feminist and other progressive Muslim activists and scholars, who find support for gender and other equality within the Muslim tradition and are effective at achieving it. We cannot accept Ms. Hirsi Ali’s triumphalist narrative of western civilization, rooted in a core belief of the cultural backwardness of non-western peoples.
We call upon you to act immediately and to select another individual who is deserving of an honorary degree from Brandeis, someone who truly meets the standards and upholds the values of this university.
1. Karen Hansen, SOC, WGS2. Dian Fox, ROMS, WGS3. Daniel Bergstresser, IBS4. James Mandrell, ROMS5. ChaeRan Freeze, NEJS, WGS6. Bernadette J. Brooten, NEJS, WGS, PRS, CLAS, SQS7. Mary Baine Campbell, ENG, COML; Assoc. Faculty WGS8. Jytte Klausen, POL9. Aliyyah I. Abdur-Rahman, ENG, AAAS, Affil. WGS10. H. Michael Coiner, ECON11. Nader Habibi, ECON, CROWN, IBS12. Sue Lanser, COML, ENG, WGS, MACH, Affil. HOID, ROMS13. Gary Jefferson, ECON, IBS14. Catherine L. Mann, IBS, ECON15. Ulka Anjaria, ENG, SAS16. Jens Hilscher, IBS17. David Powelstock, GRALL, COML, HOID18. Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow, CLAS, ANTH, FA, Italian Studies, WGS19. Jane Kamensky, HIST, WGS20. Harry Mairson, CS21. Sarah Lamb, ANTH, WGS, HSSP, SAS, PRS22. Mitra Shavarini, WGS, SOC23. Ellen Schattschneider, ANTH, WGS, PRS, EAS, IGS24. Wendy Cadge, SOC, WGS, PRS25. Marion Smiley, PHIL, WGS26. Richard J. Parmentier, ANTH, GS27. Eric Chasalow, MUS, FTIM28. Guy Antebi, NEJS29. Laura J. Miller, SOC30. Bulbul Chakraborty, PHYS31. Javier Urcid, ANTH32. Elizabeth Brainerd, ECON, WGS, IBS33. Janet McIntosh, ANTH, AAAS34. Caren Irr, ENG, FTIM, ENVS35. Jordan Pollack, Computer Science36. Sabine von Mering, GRALL, WMGS37. Jonathan Anjaria, ANTH, SAS38. Dawn Skorczewski, ENG39. Adrianne Krstansky, THA40. Chad Williams, AAAS41. Govind Sreenivasan, HIST42. Jane Hale, ROMS43. Peter Conrad, SOC, HSSP44. Rasha Azoni-Hannigan45. Joseph Lumbard, NEJS, IMES, HOID, PRS46. Gordon Fellman, SOC, PAX, IMES, Ethics Center47. Leslie Zebrowitz, PSYC48. David Cunningham, SOC, SJSP, Affil. HS49. Paul Monsky, MATH50. Edward K. Kaplan, ROMS, PRS, Affil. NEJS51. Matthew Fraleigh, GRALL, COML, EAS52. Ellen Kellman, NEJS53. Paul Morrison, ENG54. Jennifer Cleary, THA55. Carl El-Tobgui, NEJS, IMES56. George Ross, Hillquit Professor Emeritus, Soc, Pol, Global Studies57. Debarshi Nandy, IBS58. Robert Sekuler, PSYC, NEUR59. Sara Shostak, SOC, HSSP60. Harleen Singh, GRALL, WGS, SAS61. Donald Hindley, POL, EAS, LALS62. Kanan Makiya, NEJS, Crown Center63. Ana Villalobos, SOC64. Thomas King, ENG, SQS, WGS65. Paul Jankowski, History66. Gregory L. Freeze, History, IGS67. Lenny Muellner, Classical Studies68. Matthew Headrick, PHYS69. Aparna Baskaran, PHYS70. Albion Lawrence, PHYS71. John Wardle, PHYS72. Gabriella Sciolla, PHYS73. Raymond Knight, PSYC74. Sophia Malamud, Linguistics, COSI75. David H. Roberts, PHYS76. Christine M. Thomas, CHEM77. Allan Keiler, MUS78. Marya Levenson, Education Studies79. Kelley Ready, SID80. Nina (Cornelia) Kammerer, Heller PhD Program81. Robert Meyer, PHYS, emeritus82. Wellington Nyangoni, AAAS83. Talinn Grigor, FA, SAS, GS84. David Sherman, ENG85. Richard Gaskins, AMST, LGLS86. David Karjala, NEJS, IMES
87. Patricia A. Johnston, Classical Studies