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St. Louis University is the latest institution of higher learning to demonstrate that free speech on campuses begins and ends according to how well that speech conforms to existing political orthodoxies.
The university’s College Republicans and Young America’s Foundation had invited conservative author David Horowitz to deliver a speech on “Islamo-Fascism Awareness and Civil Rights,” but university administrators, choosing to avoid a close examination of radical Islam, cancelled Horowitz’s planned appearance.
What St. Louis University’s administration has done here is essentially exercise the “heckler’s veto,” shutting down speech with which it does not agree, or which is feels is too controversial for certain protected minorities on campus.
Even more ominously, and in seeming contradiction to the school’s own stated policy “to promote the free and open exchange of ideas and viewpoints, even if that exchange proves to be offensive, distasteful, disturbing or denigrating to some,” this particular speech was suppressed in advance of the event, based on a belief that the speaker’s words would possibly insult Muslim students and inflame their sensibilities.
There are troubling issues here, putting aside the basic question of fairness of denying certain students, with certain political beliefs, the opportunity to invite speakers to campus to share their views. Horowitz’s speech was cancelled not because it might contain speech that was demonstrably false or even incendiary, but because some individuals might be “offended” or “intimidated” by speech that they were perfectly free never to hear.
“For me, it was … the content,” explained the university’s dean of students, Scott Smith, in rationalizing the decision to rescind Horowitz’s invitation to speak, “particularly, the blanketed use of the term Islamo-fascism.”
The school was also concerned that the speech would be seen as “attacking another faith and seeking to cause derision on campus.” But where does a college administration, whose own institution claims to value speech that is even “offensive, distasteful, disturbing or denigrating to some,” decide that this particular topic – radical Islam – cannot and should not be spoken about?
Is this not a relevant discussion in a world where, since 9/11, more than 12,000 acts of terror have been committed by murderous radicals in Islam’s name? Does not an ideology which has as its aim the subjugation of other faiths and a worldwide caliphate under sharia law, and is fueled by billions in petro dollars, deserve, and, in fact, require, some critique and evaluation?
Horowitz always emphasizes in his speeches that when he is critiquing Islamo-fascism, he is not indicting all of Islam, or all Muslims, only those who use the religion as a justification for jihad. That is clearly the point of his message, and any honest listener to his speeches would think that it was.
St. Louis University’s notion that it had to preemptively protect the sensibilities of its Muslim students is at best condescending and at worst another way that unwritten speech codes are constructed, according to attorney and free speech expert Harvey Silverglate, to “protect ideologically or politically favored groups, and, what is more important, insulate these groups’ self-appointed spokesmen and spokeswomen from criticism and even from the need to participate in debate.”
More disingenuous still is how institutions of higher education, while horrified by the prospect of a David Horowitz visit, use their claims of academic free speech as a cover for regularly bringing outrageous, anti-American, anti-Israel, out-of-the-mainstream views to campuses – either in student-run organizations, in course materials and teaching philosophies, in the sponsorship of festivals and cultural events, or in the person of controversial speakers and artists.
For example, the concern over offending certain student groups does not have the same sense of urgency when speakers with views at least as controversial as Horowitz’s are enthusiastically welcomed – Norman Finkelstein, for example.
Finkelstein has loudly and notoriously pronounced his extreme views on the Middle East for years, not to mention his loathing of what he has called the Holocaust “industry,” something he has called an “outright extortion racket;” in fact, he blames Jews themselves for anti-Semitism.
Finkelstein’s best known work, The Holocaust Industry: Reflections On The Exploitation of Jewish Suffering, minimizes the magnitude of the Holocaust while simultaneously making the perverse accusation that it is used by Zionists to extract sympathy from the world community and to justify the oppression and subjugation of the Palestinians by Israelis.
About the Author: Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., author of “Genocidal Liberalism: The University’s Jihad Against Israel & Jews,” is president of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.
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ZIM Piraeus isn’t Israeli-owned or flagged, incidentally, it is Greek operated.
Foolish me, thinking the goals were the destruction of Hamas thereby giving peace a real chance.
The free-spirted lifestyle didn’t hold your interest; the needs of your people did.
Several years ago the city concluded that the metzitzah b’peh procedure created unacceptable risks for newborns in terms of the transmission of neo-natal herpes through contact with a mohel carrying the herpes virus.
The world wars caused unimaginable anguish for the Jews but God also scripted a great glory for our people.
Judging by history, every time Hamas rebuilds their infrastructure, they are stronger than before.
His father asked him to read Psalms from the Book of Tehilim every day.
(Reposted with permission from author’s website) Moderate truth-teller Daniel Pipes (Dream) has further moderated his stance on Islam by actually entertaining the idea of “Moderate Islamism”, with Andrew C. McCarthy- whom I’ve debated about this- giving it some credence. We’ve gone from Naming the Enemy -Nazism, Communism- to Renaming the Enemy – “Islamic Totalitarianism”, “Radical Islam”, “Islamism”, […]
Maimonides: “Your 1 mitzva may tip the scales and bring redemption to the entire world and creation”
Jerusalem has been aware of the importance of China to its growth and security.
In other words, how by any rational playbook can one even begin to explain anti-Semitism?
Entire movements within “orthodoxy” propagate a Judaism of outlandish folklore and Jewish mysticism
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The cynical, and historically and factually inaccurate, view has meant leftists frequently denounce Western democracies as imperialistic, racist, militaristic oppressors.
What was unique about the MLA’s and the ASA’s approach was the breathtakingly Orwellian notion that not only was Israel itself guilty of the many alleged transgressions assigned to it by its libelers, but a boycott against Israeli academics was warranted because the academic establishment itself is complicit in Zionism’s excesses and a core element of the bemoaned occupation, oppression, and denial of Palestinian self-determination.
The ASA has obviously overlooked the pathology of Palestinian society.
The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI), which represents some 14,500 members, voted in early April “to cease all cultural and academic collaboration with Israel, including the exchange of scientists, students and academic personalities, as well as cooperation in research programmes [sic].”
As an example of what the insightful commentator Melanie Phillips referred to as a “dialogue of the demented” in her book The World Turned Upside Down, Northeastern University’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), paralleling the moral incoherence of anti-Israel activists demonstrating elsewhere in American and European cities, sponsored a November 15 Boston rally in support of Gaza and, presumably, its genocidal thugocracy, Hamas.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently continued a long tradition of attempting to question a Jewish link to Jerusalem by expressing his mendacious notion that “Jerusalem’s identity is Arab, and the city’s and Christian holy sites must be protected from Israeli threats.”
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