THEY'RE COMING! THEY'RE COMING!
All week Robert Spencer has been posting on Jihad Watch about his upcoming speaking engagement at one of America's premier universities. All week he's been posting articles responding to, what I would term, libelous criticisms in the University's press & statements by University & student authorities. All week he's been patiently responding to each criticism and carefully deconstructing them. For all his trouble he has been attacked by some lecturers for "harassing students" (this link to that particular article covers many of the preceding exchanges). As he said,
These people are professors? Is this Stalinist Russia or Mao’s Cultural Revolution, in which the accused person is to be browbeaten with false charges and given no opportunity to defend himself? Have these Stanford profs written up a “confession” to “counterrevolutionary activities” that I am to sign before my execution?
It is astonishing that professors in a major university would be so reflexively opposed to the freedom of speech and the free exchange of ideas, and find the rough-and-tumble of polemical discourse to be an outrageous affront. But given today’s academic environment nationwide, it is not surprising in the least.
Students may not know it as they stand with their fists raised in the Communist salute (or even that it was the Communist salute - as it has been used for various causes from anti-apartheid movements to Black rights in the US, including Black Lives Matter, it has taken on an air of "freedom & rebellion" just as the Swastika seems to have done for other groups - but that is indeed the origin), but Mr Spencer is absolutely correct when he calls them the new fascists and neo-Brownshirts and makes comparisons with Communist totalitarianism.
Staff have advised students to tear down posters advertising his talk and to tell authorities the names of those posting them. Mr Spencer even went to the effort of paying for a large advert in the University paper explaining why he deserved a hearing and the kinds of things he stands for (equality, free speech, freedom of enquiry & thought - traditional Western themes). Both a Rabbi and a Jewish student have expressed concern over his appearance posing a threat at the very least to interfaith harmony with Muslims and even to the physical safety of Muslims and Jews.
Utterly preposterous bilge. To defend the oppression of minorities under Sharia law, which includes Jews (and Muslim women by the way - just look at the inheritance laws & the rights of women in divorce) and to expose the motivating doctrines of jihadis is to stand against hate, not propagate it. Yet very intelligent people do not seem to be able to grasp the difference.
After all Stanford has hosted the son & supporter of a jihad murderer who supported the 911 attacks. If they are that open to a violent, hateful & genuinely bigoted extreme on one side of this debate why wouldn't they encourage an alternative (and non-violent) viewpoint? Especially when one of their own students has attempted a review of some of Mr Spencer's books and found them to be "never explicitly false".
So what are people upset about? Hurt feelings trump the real history, theology and ideology of a force seeking to destroy everything we hold dear? Yeah, apparently.
Despite University authorities 10 days ago stating that disruptions of free speech will not be permitted, they informed Mr Spencer on the eve of his talk that they will not enforce this policy. As it turned out they didn't need to. Half way through the talk the vast majority of the audience stood in unison and walked out. Sure, they have every right to do that. It certainly seemed pre-planned and a demonstration of their disapproval of the speaker and/or topic, but they are free to do so. Pity they didn't take the opportunity to engage and then challenge the speaker, we all would have gained far more from an open exchange of ideas. But they didn't, they chose to make a statement and leave. But by taking the seats in the hall they managed to stop many who wanted to hear Mr Spencer from doing so.
But my real problem here is not with the young people who, God willing, will grow out of their precocious & unrealistic view of the world as life and reality begin to penetrate their protective shell of pixie dust & wishful thinking. My real problem is with the University which then did not permit any of those waiting outside to enter the auditorium to replace those who'd left. People who did want to hear were unable to get in because of those who decided to make a protest. Then these folk were not allowed entry into a virtually empty lecture hall by Authorities.
That part I simply do not understand.
All week I'd been reading Mr Spencer's statements and thinking that, "no!, things can't be so bad that a tertiary institute of Stanford's standing could possibly fail to insist on a fair hearing of ideas. Come on - this is an institute of higher learning!" The very raison d'être of its existence is to challenge assumptions, encourage learning and provoke independent thought - to expand knowledge. How could they deny a platform based simply on something amounting to no more than gossip?
But I was wrong and Mr Spencer was right. He knew his opponents and predicted major opposition from students, faculty and authorities.
How did it come to this?
What are they afraid of?