Brandeis University originally invited Ayaan Hirsi Ali to receive an honorary degree at its spring commencement, and created a storm of controversy on its campus. It has now withdrawn that offer, and may have created a storm of controversy outside of its campus as well. The former Dutch parliamentarian has long spoken out against the excesses of Islam, from her own painful personal experience to the radicalism that fuels terrorism and war. Apparently, Brandeis just figured this out...Yeah, I'm definitely going with "both". Maybe throw in some raaaaaaaacism and some sexxxxxxism, too, just for good liberal measure.
So, first question: What did Brandeis intend when it offered Ali the degree in the first place? After all, her mission has been pretty clear over the last decade or so. There does not appear to be an alternate line of activism or scholarship taken up by Ali in the intervening time, so presumably Brandeis intended to honor her work in this field. Second question: What changed?
That brings us to the third question. Did no one at Brandeis bother to Google Ali before offering her the degree? Her speeches don’t pull punches about her perspectives on Islam and its practices. It’s a little late in 2014 for President Lawrence to be shocked, shocked at “certain of her past statements” in relation to the work that they apparently wanted to honor.
To answer the second question — because so far, questions one and three don’t lend themselves to answers other than incompetence – what changed is that the faculty erupted in outrage when it saw Ali on the list. Out of 350 faculty, “more than 85″ signed a petition demanding her removal from the honors list. The petition was started by the Muslim Students Association, which should have been easily foreseen by Brandeis in the first place. If popular opposition was enough to cancel the offer, then Brandeis shouldn’t have made it in the first place. Now, they look both incompetent and pusillanimous.
Brandeis has a Muslim Students Association? Brandeis? They're so open-minded their brains have fallen out.