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April 09, 2014

Brandeis Caves to CAIR, Hirsi Ali Responds

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Brandeis University has announced it's rescinding an honorary degree that was to be given to Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, best-selling author and human rights activist. Hirsi Ali participated in CAMERA's 17th Annual Gala Dinner on April 6 as keynote speaker.

Capitulating to a campaign by CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) and voluble student and faculty protests, Brandeis President Frederick Lawrence issued the statement withdrawing the honor. CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator in a terrorism funding case involving Hamas.

Hirsi Ali has received numerous awards previously, including in 2006 as recipient of the American Jewish Committee's Moral Courage Award.

Hirsi Ali issued the following statement in response to the Brandeis action:

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.

When Brandeis approached me with the offer of an honorary degree, I accepted partly because of the institution’s distinguished history; it was founded in 1948, in the wake of World War II and the Holocaust, as a co-educational, nonsectarian university at a time when many American universities still imposed rigid admission quotas on Jewish students. I assumed that Brandeis intended to honor me for my work as a defender of the rights of women against abuses that are often religious in origin. For over a decade, I have spoken out against such practices as female genital mutilation, so-called “honor killings,�? and applications of Sharia Law that justify such forms of domestic abuse as wife beating or child beating. Part of my work has been to question the role of Islam in legitimizing such abhorrent practices. So I was not surprised when my usual critics, notably the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), protested against my being honored in this way.

What did surprise me was the behavior of Brandeis. Having spent many months planning for me to speak to its students at Commencement, the university yesterday announced that it could not “overlook certain of my past statements,�? which it had not previously been aware of. Yet my critics have long specialized in selective quotation — lines from interviews taken out of context — designed to misrepresent me and my work. It is scarcely credible that Brandeis did not know this when they initially offered me the degree.

What was initially intended as an honor has now devolved into a moment of shaming. Yet the slur on my reputation is not the worst aspect of this episode. More deplorable is that an institution set up on the basis of religious freedom should today so deeply betray its own founding principles. The “spirit of free expression�? referred to in the Brandeis statement has been stifled here, as my critics have achieved their objective of preventing me from addressing the graduating Class of 2014. Neither Brandeis nor my critics knew or even inquired as to what I might say. They simply wanted me to be silenced. I regret that very much.

Not content with a public disavowal, Brandeis has invited me “to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues.�? Sadly, in words and deeds, the university has already spoken its piece. I have no wish to “engage�? in such one-sided dialogue. I can only wish the Class of 2014 the best of luck — and hope that they will go forth to be better advocates for free expression and free thought than their alma mater.

I take this opportunity to thank all those who have supported me and my work on behalf of oppressed woman and girls everywhere.

Posted by AL at April 9, 2014 05:33 PM


Brandies capitulation to the left's effort at stifling the truth are at best disgusting and raise the question of how far and how deep are JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS WILLING TO SINK IN ORDER TO in order to find favor with who will always despise them

Posted by: ethan teitler at April 10, 2014 10:13 AM

I have already posted this on the Jerusalem Post, but Ayaan Hirsi Ali is among the bravest people, and I have nothing but admiration for her and her work on behalf of human rights. Brandeis has proven itself to be a coward. By their actions, Brandies has allied itself with those who would abuse, threaten and kill women. Some lead by example, Brandeis fails by example.

Posted by: Mark Schneider at April 10, 2014 10:21 AM

Shame on Brandeis.

Posted by: Rich Waksman at April 10, 2014 10:29 AM

Shame on Brandeis.

Posted by: Rich Waksman at April 10, 2014 10:30 AM

Shame on Brandeis.

Posted by: Rich Waksman at April 10, 2014 10:31 AM

Where are the protests and demonstrations on behalf of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Where are the protests against the president of Brandeis
vetoing America's First Amdndment, freedom of speech!

Posted by: joe at April 10, 2014 10:36 AM

Where are the protests and demonstrations on behalf of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Where are the protests against the president of Brandeis
vetoing America's First Amdndment, freedom of speech!Where are the feminist women's right's groups. where is the ACLU!

Posted by: Anonymous at April 10, 2014 10:38 AM

Whether the public at large are cognisant of all the facts is debatable. However based on the evidence presented it would seem at first sight that the "accused" has been denied a right of reply or defence. This unilateral stance by Brandeis does it's hitherto enviable reputation no favours. It arguably degrades it's respected cerebral management to the level of unprincipled, gutless and hypocritical leaders, whose example exemplifies Ostrich management.
I'm fairly certain that the bestowing of an honorary accolade was not given on a whim. Therefore one must question what outside pressures were brought to bear so that Brandeis's leaders altered their original decision.
Whatever happened to healthy open confrontation, or the principle of standing up for the credo of letting justice be seen to be done openly?

Posted by: Dr. David Uri at April 10, 2014 10:40 AM

Brandeis made a horrible mistake in uninviting Ayaan Hirsi Ali to receive an honorary degree. Officials at this once proud bastion of freedom of speech demonstrated being politically correct is more important than educating students on the threat of radical Islam. They need to read her book - "INFIDEL". She is originally from Somalia, fled to Holland and after the murder of the grand nephew of Van Hogh by Muslims, she fled to America. She describes having to leave her homeland and then Holland because of threats from radical Islamists because she warned about the threat of Islamism. She is a very brave woman willing to place her life on the line. Brandeis needs to adopt her character and bravery to educate students of this great danger to America.

Posted by: Warren Manison at April 10, 2014 10:53 AM

Thank G-d for people like Ms. Ali! She is an intelligent, brave soul. How pathetic that Brandeis has smothered its name with shame. I challenge all other recipients of honorary degrees from there to send them back with an appropriate explanation.
I also recommend that future donations should be halted to that University until they change their insane policy of appeasement to Islamists.

Posted by: Leon Kushner at April 10, 2014 11:23 AM

Brandeis' capitulation to CAIR is shocking. Hirsi Ali is a most outstanding woman and an outstanding role model. she is truly an inspiration to all who seek justice and freedom. The cowadly and really dishonest behavior of Brandeis administration can only be deplored

Posted by: s e clemons at April 10, 2014 11:47 AM

Brandeis really should be ashamed of itself. This woman is an advocate for all the values the University should--and purports to--stand for; namely, freedom of expression and equality for women and minorities, particularly those subjugated in regressive, totalitarian theocracies.

Posted by: Joshua Zatcoff at April 10, 2014 02:35 PM

I have a proponent for Brandeis since the days of
Sachar in my youth. Only a few days ago I told my
grand-daughter that it was a fine school, worthy
of her attendance for an advanced degree.

Now, I am so embarrassed. They have done the impossible. Squelching the important views of a true critic of some of the anti-female stands of Islam.

I would feel better if Brandeis were bought off to
adopt this action. Who, anyhow, is this President
of the university? Greed would be more excusable!

Perhaps, truly liberal donors will consider squelching donations until this action is reversed
and suitable apologies offered to Ms. Ali and all
associates of the school.

Posted by: Edmund U. Cohler at April 10, 2014 05:33 PM

We should open a "Hall of Fame" for the courage to seek the truth and tell it. Ayyan Hirsi Ali should have a prominent place there.
Side by side, a "Hall of Shame" should have Brandeis University in the top position.

Posted by: Salomon Benzimra at April 10, 2014 09:03 PM

Pathetic cowardice on the part of a once-respected university--caving to political correctness of the worst sort. Disgusting double standard of morality on blatant display--but sadly typical of many American universities.

Posted by: Jonathan Segal at April 10, 2014 10:06 PM

Brandeis does a lot of good work; however this time they have crossed the line that separates a decent freedom cherishing institution from a second class establishment that sells itself to the highest PC bidder.
Justice Louis Brandeis is turning in his grave.

Posted by: Semyon at April 10, 2014 11:03 PM

shame on Brandeis and the group cair,this is the kind of crazy crap this country faces when groups like this are given special treatment when they should be investigated and shut down for their ties with Hama's.I believe radical Muslims are one of this countries biggest threats.

Posted by: Felisha Witt at April 11, 2014 01:21 AM

How much more need we know about how far left our once open minded and tolerant universities have become than this response to this woman's compelling remarks about horrible oppression of women? And how far left and hypocritical NOW has become as witnessed by their not unnoticed silence in this incident?

Posted by: J Pescado at April 11, 2014 05:37 PM

Some quotes from Justice L. D. Brandeis, to help us distinguish Brandeis from Brandeis University.

Those who won our independence believed that the final end of the state was to make men free to develop their faculties, and that in its government the deliberative forces should prevail over the arbitrary. They valued liberty both as an end and as a means. They believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty. They believed that freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth; that without free speech and assembly discussion would be futile; that with them, discussion affords ordinarily adequate protection against the dissemination of noxious doctrine; that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a political duty; and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government.
Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927), at 375. In this case, in which the Court upheld a California anti-Communist statute, Brandeis, writing in a concurrence joined by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., concurred in the judgment but not in the reasoning. Whitney was later overruled (with the later Court adopting Brandeis's reasoning) in Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969).
Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burnt women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears.
Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357, 376 (1927).
Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty. To courageous, self-reliant men, with confidence in the power of free and fearless reasoning applied through the processes of popular government, no danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present, unless the incidence of the evil apprehended is so imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full discussion. If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.
Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927).

Posted by: Mary Foley, Esq. at April 13, 2014 08:24 AM

Shame on Brandeis!

Posted by: Prof. Dan Shapira at April 13, 2014 04:14 PM

As ongoing donor of a memorial scholarship given in my son David's name, I am shocked, saddened and surprised at Brandeis withdrawing the honorary degree it planned to award to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. As a woman, American, and Holocaust survivor i hate anyone bowing to intimidation. Am considering curtailing future donations to the University.

Suzanne Loebl, author.

Posted by: Suzanne Loebl at April 26, 2014 09:35 PM

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