Brandeis University has prostrated itself before radical Islam and the idol of political correctness, withdrawing an honorary degree that was to have been granted to feminist and Muslim critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali next month. The university’s excuse was that Ali had said nasty things about Islam in the past: “we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values,” it said in a statement.
How ridiculous–as if by honoring someone for their achievements, the university identifies itself with every idea that person has had, everything he or she has said or done. Does a university that grants a doctorate to President Barack Obama identify itself with the hateful teachings of Jeremiah Wright’s church, where Obama spent twenty years of his life? If not, then what nonsense is Brandeis spouting about Ali’s hard words on Islam?
For years, Brandeis–a university founded by Jews, to provide an alternative for those Jewish students and scholars barred by discrimination from elite universities–has bent over backwards to prove that it, too, can be as anti-Israel as any other left-wing campus. The problem here is not just the excessive deference that academia in general shows to radical Islam, but also a particularly Jewish problem of willful, enthusiastic self-negation.
Brandeis subscribes, broadly, to the idea that the essence and goal of Jewish scholarship is “social justice,” and that Jews must not only prove themselves (in light of our history) to be the most tolerant of people, but also the first to give up any advantages, fair or unfair. In practice, “social justice” always means injustice to individuals. In this case, tolerance–in the form of moral relativism–means intolerance towards one person in particular.
Fortunately, there is a response: withdraw recognition from Brandeis. Stop going there, stop sending your children or your money there, stop taking Brandeis seriously as an academic institution. It is a failed project, one that has not adapted to new circumstances, to the new threats facing western civilization in general and Jewish survival in particular. It is an embarrassment to the academic values it once promised to uphold.