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No Honor at Brandeis University

I had planned to begin this column with: Were I fortunate enough to meet her, and provided her security detail didn’t pounce on me and wrestle me to the ground, I would greet her by taking her hand and kissing it. It’s not often I get to meet a real princess, someone of the stature of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Brandeis University decided to snub Ayaan Hirsi Ali by withdrawing a promised honorary degree and disinviting her from delivering a commencement address.  Since “honor” is virtue in visible action (and not some ethereal glow enveloping a person or institution), Brandeis made the dishonorable choice of placing importance on what a terrorist-linked organization said about Hirsi Ali and by cowering in the face of real or imagined Muslim anger over the woman’s record of criticizing Islam, and, in this instance, her role in producing and appearing in a Clarion Project film, Honor Diaries.

Brandeis snubbed Hirsi Ali; others just wished to silence her. Why do these parties wish to silence her? Because they don’t want anyone else to know what Islam is all about. That’s called censorship, or thought control.

Why did Brandeis cave? Primarily, for fear of retribution by Muslims, for fear it would be called “Islamophobic” or endorsing “Islamophobia.”  Secondly, it caved at the behest of an alleged “civil liberties” organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Hamas-linked organization that is basically a business-suited front for the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic organizations (ICNA, ISNA, MPAC, MSA, etc., aside from the Saudi lobbies).  Ibrahim “the Howler” Hooper is its glib, taqiyya-yadda-yadda spokesman. Taqiyya, for those unfamiliar with the term, is the Muslim practice of saying one thing in English, and laughing up one’s sleeve when the gullible press has packed up its cameras and Ipads and left the room.

On April 8th CAIR issued this press release:

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 4/8/14) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on Brandeis University not to pay tribute to notorious anti-Muslim extremist Ayaan Hirsi Ali with an honorary degree at its commencement on May 18.

You would swear that Brandeis had planned to confer an honorary degree on Jesse James, or Al Capone, or even on David Duke or George Wallace. Below that statement is a “Take Action” button. And, indeed, buttons were pushed, the anti-“Islamophobia” ones. On the same date, the Brandeis student newspaper “acted” and also urged the school to banish Hirsi Ali:

When the University announced this year’s honorary degree recipients, one choice stood out—Ayaan Hirsi Ali. As a Fellow with the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Hirsi Ali has raised awareness of violence against women, focusing on honor killings and female genital mutilation.

Hirsi Ali, however, has been outspoken about her Islamophobic beliefs. We urge University President Frederick Lawrence to rescind Hirsi Ali’s invitation to receive an honorary degree at this year’s commencement.

After paying reluctant recognition of Hirsi Ali’s campaign against Islamic persecution and oppression of women, the school, the editorial went on to say:

….Yet, her derogatory comments toward Islam warrant a closer look at the administration’s choice to award her a degree. In her 2010 memoir Nomad: From Islam to America, Hirsi Ali states that Islam is “not compatible with the modern Westernised way of living,” that “violence is an integral part [of Islam],” and that “Muhammad’s example is terrible, don’t follow it.” These comments ignore the fact that there are multiple views of Islam, insist that violence is inherent in Islam and that one culture is fundamentally better than another.

On cue, the student editorial simply regurgitated what CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote to Brandeis President Frederick M. Lawrence. That also qualifies as dishonorable “action.” “Authorities” are alleging that faculty and students alike pushed for Lawrence to disinvite Ali.

Lawrence, undoubtedly cringing in a sauna sweat in his sumptuous office, issued the obligatory statement on April 8th:

Following a discussion today between President Frederick Lawrence and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ms. Hirsi Ali’s name has been withdrawn as an honorary degree recipient at this year’s commencement. She is a compelling public figure and advocate for women’s rights, and we respect and appreciate her work to protect and defend the rights of women and girls throughout the world. That said, we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.  For all concerned, we regret that we were not aware of these statements earlier.

Commencement is about celebrating and honoring our extraordinary students and their accomplishments, and we are committed to providing an atmosphere that allows our community’s focus to be squarely on our students. In the spirit of free expression that has defined Brandeis University throughout its history, Ms. Hirsi Ali is welcome to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues.

On Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugs site, Ali states that the revocation was not a result of a consultation between her and President Lawrence:

“Yesterday Brandeis University decided to withdraw an honorary degree they were to confer upon me next month during their Commencement exercises. I wish to dissociate myself from the university’s statement, which implies that I was in any way consulted about this decision. On the contrary, I was completely shocked when President Frederick Lawrence called me — just a few hours before issuing a public statement — to say that such a decision had been made.”

The Brandeis submission to Islam has generated numerous condemnations of Lawrence and Brandeis, from the Wall Street Journal, to Robert Spencer on FrontPage to Breitbart. Fox’s Megyn Kelly cleans Ibrahim Hooper’s clock twice, having to repeatedly remind him that her program is not offered as a platform for his high dudgeon piety about CAIR’s “civil liberties” record, and having to correct his manners, as well.

CAIR, in the meantime, issued another press release on April 9th, as a kind of victory lap of gloating triumph for having made Brandeis cry “Uncle Hooper!” In it Awad names his co-culprits.

In its statement announcing the withdrawal of Ali’s invitation, the university said: “We cannot overlook that certain of her past statements are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.”

We welcome the recognition by Brandeis University that honoring an anti-Muslim bigot like Ayaan Hirsi Ali would amount to an endorsement of her hate-filled and extremist views,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “We would like to thank all those who took part in the effort to expose Ali’s extremism and to convince the university to take corrective action.”

Awad added: “This victory over hate was achieved because the American Muslim community joined with interfaith partners in presenting a unified front to challenge Ali’s intolerance.”

He offered specific thanks to the Brandeis Muslim Students Association, the editors of The Justice student newspaper at Brandeis, Tikun Olam blog editor Richard Silverstein, Imam Suhaib Webb of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, the Islamic Council of New England, Brandeis Professor Joseph Lumbard, and the many Jewish activists and academics who joined in demanding that Brandeis University withdraw its invitation to Ali.

Awad said the issue was not one of First Amendment rights because “Ali remains free to spew her anti-Muslim venom in any other venue,” but was instead about a prestigious university not honoring a purveyor of religious bigotry.

Steve Emerson’s The Investigative Project, Reuters, the Associated Press, and even the New York Times thought the revocation was significant enough news to report, albeit with varying tones of surprise and/or outrage or absence of outrage over Brandeis’s “corrective action.”

One aspect of CAIR’s “outrage” was the Clarion Project’s film, Honor Diaries, which it not only claimed was “Islamophobic,” and because it was partly funded by “Jews,” but also because Ali’s AHA Foundation helped to produce it. I have watched it, and frankly do not understand why Hooper and his cronies object to it so strenuously. It is not in the least “Islamophobic.” In fact, it is quite accommodating to Islam, because none of the panelists or participants in it, including Ali herself, condemn Islam and call for its repudiation. This is surprising, given Ali’s books Infidel and Nomad. As reported by Fox News, CAIR was instrumental in having showings of the film cancelled in a number of universities.

But in no instance do any of the women in the film repudiate or renounce Islam. Islam is the chief subject of their discussions, and occasionally Hinduism. One of the women is a Sikh. Most of the stills depict Muslims. The participants even fearlessly pronounce “Islam” and “Muslims.” But many of the women are practicing Muslims. While often their descriptions of their and others’ treatment under Islam are horribly graphic and true, not once did I hear them unreservedly condemn Islam.

Islam is a totalitarian ideology. They suffered under it. Yet they do not condemn it. They talk as though Islam can be “reformed” or recast as a tolerant, humane creed. It can’t. It is, root, trunk, and branch as evil an ideology as Nazism and Communism. I don’t think they were afraid to condemn Islam. I think their statements about it reflect a profound ignorance of its ends, or a collective delusion. To a woman, they stress that Islam’s depredations against women are “cultural,” not “political.” They do not see that those crimes – forced marriages of children and adult women, female genital mutilation (FGM, or, what a friend prefers to call it, “female castration”), the role of “honor,” and the ubiquity of “honor killings” in Muslim and Western countries – are intrinsic to the ideology, not aberrations or anomalies.

Two segments of Honor Diaries impressed me, and not positively. One indicated just how accommodating the film is to Islam. This segment featured one of the participants, an American, Raquel Saraswati. She had a pierced nose and a pierced lower lip. Her eyebrows looked painted on. She wore the whole “approved” Muslim garb for women, including an unflattering hijab, most of it outlandishly decorated. The overall impression was that she could’ve been a dancer for the Star Wars villain, Jabba the Hut. At one point, the film showed her preparing to pray and praying. That segment underscored the film’s, and the participants’, acceptance of Islam as a legitimate creed.

The second segment concerned a statement by another woman (who did not participate in the group discussion), Dr. Qanta Ahmed, author of In the Land of Invisible Women. She claimed that FGM was not mentioned in the Koran or in any of the related scriptures. Perhaps not. But it is the subject in a principal ancillary work, The Reliance of the Traveller, a two-and-a-half pound, 1,232-page manual on Islamic or Sharia law. A Wikipedia entry on this work describes it:

Umdat as-Salik wa ‘Uddat an-Nasik (Reliance of the Traveller and Tools of the Worshipper, also commonly known by its shorter title Reliance of the Traveller) is a classical manual of fiqh for the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence. The author of the main text is 14th-century scholar Shihabuddin Abu al-‘Abbas Ahmad ibn an-Naqib al-Misri (AH 702-769 / AD 1302–1367). Al-Misri who based his work on the previous Shafi’i works of Imam Nawawi and Imam Abu Ishaq as-Shirazi. Ibn Naqib follows the order of Shirazi’s al-Muhadhdhab (The Rarefaction) and the conclusions of Nawawi’s Minhaj at-Talibin (The Seeker’s Road). This work consists of the soundest positions of the Shafi’i school.

Andrew McCarthy, in his April 5th NRO article, “CAIR’s Jihad against Honor Diaries,” cites the work, which, covering honor killings, the dress code for women, forced marriages, wife-beating, and other nasty Islamic practices, definitely discusses FGM. McCarthy cites the relevant section:

Female “circumcision” is obligatory (although only recommended or considered “a mere courtesy to the husband” in some Islamic legal schools); it consists of “removing the prepuce of the clitoris.” (Reliance, e4.3)

In case you doubt McCarthy’s citation, here it is from the horse’s mouth, Answering-Islam.org:

e4.3    Circumcision is obligatory (O: for both men and women. For men it consists of removing the prepuce from the penis, and for women, removing the prepuce (Ar. Bazr) of the clitoris (n: not the clitoris itself, as some mistakenly assert). (A: Hanbalis hold that circumcision of women is not obligatory but sunna, while Hanafis consider it a mere courtesy to the husband.)”

Circumcision is obligatory for (every male and female) by cutting off the piece of skin on the glans of the penis of the male, but circumcision of the female is by cutting out the clitoris (this is called HufaaD). {bold emphasis ours}

The Arabic word bazr does not mean “prepuce of the clitoris”, it means the clitoris itself (cf. the entry in the Arabic-English Dictionary). The deceptive translation by Nuh Hah Mim Keller, made for Western consumption, obscures the Shafi’i law, given by ‘Umdat al-Salik, that circumcision of girls by excision of the clitoris is mandatory. This particular form of female circumcision is widely practiced in Egypt, where the Shafi’i school of Sunni law is followed.

It’s also practiced in all Muslim countries, and even in the West. Andrew Bostom, on the other hand, also cites official, accepted Islamic doctrine on the subject of FGM. In his April 6th article, “Mainsream Islam Sanctions female ‘Circumcision/Genital Mutilation of Muslim Women to Reduce Their ‘Concupiscece’,” He wrote:

Umm Atiyyah al-Ansariyyah said: A woman used to perform circumcision in Medina. The Prophet said to her: “Do not cut severely as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband.”

[Sunan Abu Dawud, Chapter 1888, “Circumcision of Girls”, Number 5251, from Sunan Abu Dawud, one of the six canonical hadith collections, English translation with Explanatory notes by Prof. Ahmad Hasan, 2007, Volume III, p. 1451]

The great Muslim polymath al-Jahiz (d, 869) noted that female circumcision was specifically employed as a means to reduce female “concupiscence,” unbridled lust—or mere sexual pleasure, derived from a fully intact clitoris:

[Al-Jahiz, Kitab al-hayawan, Vol. 7, pp. 27-29] A woman with a clitoris has more pleasure than a woman without a clitoris. The pleasure depends on the quanityt which was cut from the clitoris. Muhammad said, “If you cut, cut the slightest part and do not exaggerate because it makes the face more beautiful and it is more pleasing for the husband.”

So, FGM is nowhere mentioned in the Koran? What about in the Hadith? Does it matter which? Apparently, the U.S. Muslim Jurists Association endorses FGM. Mr. Bostom has reported on that interesting development in his April 10th article, “Mainstream U.S. Muslim Jurists Association Sanctions Female Genital Mutilation.”

Now, Dr. Ahmed may not be an authority on Islam or on any of its principal texts. However, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is. In her own segments, she does not correct Dr. Ahmed. It was incumbent upon her, as executive producer, to contradict Ahmed. This is not a correction that could have fallen through the cracks while editing the film. And, on her own AHA Foundation site, it is noted on this page that:

“FGM has no foundation in Islamic scripture or law; however, in the West it is mainly practiced in Muslim communities.”

Ali did not correct Dr. Ahmed. I do not know what could be going through her mind.

This is also why Honor Diaries is a disappointment. This is also why CAIR can’t be that upset about the film.

There was one noteworthy observation in the film, by clinical therapist Zainab Khan:

“How do you weaken people, or handicap them? You take away their ability to make decisions for themselves. You take that ability to decide what is right and wrong…”

Dear Ladies: That is what Islam is all about – root, trunk, and branch.