An Open Letter To Ayaan Hirsi Ali

If I were you I would happily accept the invitation to debate and dialogue with people at Brandeis who may disagree with me .  I am sure that there are probably people at Brandeis who wholly agree with your views on Islam.  There is no reason to think your ability to actually say your peace would be infringed upon.  I would think that the people who disagree with you want their voices heard and their arguments taken seriously.  That would not happen if all they did was disrespect and shout you down while you were saying your peace in an atmosphere in which real dialogue is supposed to be taking place.  Those individuals would also be thrown out by campus security and rightfully so.  It is much easier to accept an honorary degree in a forum in which you won’t be challenged, then it is to accept a speaking invitation in a forum in which you know you will be challenged.  By inviting you to speak in a forum in which you could not have been challenged, a forum in which dialogue most certainly would not have been taking place, which is what Brandeis did by initially choosing to give you an honorary degree at a commencement ceremony, Brandeis chose to disrespect all the people at the university who disagree with you and would have welcomed the opportunity to dialogue with you in a neutral forum.  Please explain to me how any university can tout itself as a marketplace of ideas when it prevents its constituents from having that neutral forum to challenge a speaker.  Please explain to me why Brandeis should value your feelings and your disrespect more then that of all those who just wanted the opportunity to debate you, an opportunity which Brandeis initially denied them which any reasonable person would find profoundly disrespectful.  Now they have that opportunity and instead of feigning righteous indignation you should accept the invitation and say your peace.  No one is naturally entitled to have their views embraced.  No one is naturally entitled to speak in a forum in which their views will not be challenged…anyone who does not think of themselves as the repository of all that is wise and true should understand that.

I would like to see the university conduct a referendum involving all the faculty and students on whether or not the honor should be bestowed.  There is certainly no reason why a university president or board of trustees or whoever constitutes the small group of higher-ups who grant themselves the power to make that decision, should be the only ones who get to make that decision.



I write to dialogue. So please, let's engage each other in some dialogue.

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