Recently Louis Farrakhan spoke at the University of California at Berkeley, and received a standing ovation. Before he spoke, however, there were quite a few protests over his being welcome on the Berkeley campus. But Dr. Mark Yudof, the president of the university, brushed them all aside and insisted that Farrakhan had to be allowed to speak there. Yudof’s explanation? The freedom of speech. He explained: “We cannot as a society allow what we regard as vile speech to lead us to abandon the cherished value of free speech.”
In this case, Yudof was using this policy and this line of thinking to sanction the unthinkable, to whitewash the filth of Louis Farrakhan’s ugly Jew-hatred and America-hatred.
In an infamous March 1984 radio broadcast, Farrakhan said: “Hitler was a very great man.” Later he claimed that Hitler had made a deal with Zionists that allowed Jews to “take the land away from the Palestinian people.” Judaism, said Farrakhan, was a “gutter religion.” Israel was the product of the Jews’ “old naked scheming, plotting and planning against the lives of a people there in Palestine,” and the ultimate result of all that scheming would be that America, as Israel’s ally, would be “drawn into the heat of the third world war, which is called Armageddon.” Farrakhan has also referred to “satanic Jews” and “the synagogue of Satan.”
But Mark Yudof could give a platform to this racist hatemonger at the University of California at Berkeley, home of the famous Free Speech Movement, because the First Amendment is pure. It can be used to allow a hearing to the most egregious and, as he himself put it, “vile speech.”
I have no objection to this in principle. Not at all. I am a firm believer in the freedom of speech as our society’s fundamental bulwark against tyranny. And it is under that umbrella, that big tent, that I demand that voices of truth, of freedom, of love, of liberty, of all that is good and decent in America also be heard at the University of California-Berkeley and on college campuses from sea to shining sea.
Lovers of freedom must appeal to the good that is in Mark Yudof and so many other university administrators like him all over the country — the very same good that propelled them to pursue their academic fields as a passion: the pursuit of truth. Surely even the most hardened leftist academic ideologue could not have forgotten entirely about that, even if it is just a dim memory.
When Mark Yudof and other university presidents invite subversives, saboteurs, supporters of the murderous Iranian regime, Muslim Brotherhood operatives, and others of their ilk to speak on campuses, it is incumbent upon them, indeed, it is required of men of their stature, to provide the counter-argument: to allow a platform to the voices calling for peace, freedom, gender equality, equal rights, and individual rights.
Generally they do not do this. Recently Colgate University in upstate New York featured a presentation by the stealth Islamic supremacist and Iranian regime apologist Reza Aslan in which he openly defamed my colleague Robert Spencer and me; but Colgate would not allow either of us a platform from which to mount a rebuttal. Such is the poisonously ideological state of academia these days.
Nonetheless, academic fairness and the genuine pursuit of truth is the responsibility of every university administrator and every professor. Indeed, it is their only responsibility. It is Mark Yudof’s responsibility, and it is the responsibility of every one of his peers. And if they cannot achieve this, cannot provide an environment for it, and cannot model it in an evenhanded approach to whom they invite to speak on their campuses, they have failed.
Or is the freedom of speech only to be extended to the haters of America and Israel, and the lovers of the Islamic supremacist ideology that deprives millions of women and non-Muslims worldwide of their basic rights?
I look forward to receiving my invitation from Dr. Mark Yudof to speak at UC-Berkeley.