Steyn on Culture
Today, Brandeis University announced that it was reversing its decision to award an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, following complaints from faculty, an online petition, and pressure from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which represents nobody but is flush with Saudi cash. The biases of the academy are well known: Robert Spencer is in no danger of getting an honorary degree any time soon, nor Douglas Murray. Nevertheless, in this instance, Brandeis University is stiffing someone who's a black feminist atheist from Somalia. Which makes their decision the most explicit recognition yet that, in the hierarchy of identity-group politics, Islam trumps everything, including race, gender and secularism.
Brandeis said they had changed their mind about Ms Hirsi Ali's degree because "we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University's core values". Presumably, Tony Kushner's statement that the state of Israel shouldn't exist is entirely consistent with Brandeis University's core values, because no one bothered rescinding his honorary degree.
I wrote about Ayaan a couple of years ago in Maclean's:
In London, the historian Andrew Roberts calls her "the bravest woman I know". I agree. There's nothing hypothetical about the danger she lives with. She and Theo van Gogh made a movie called Submission: He's dead, and the fellows who did it would like to kill her, too. But some tenured navel-gazing hacks and the prissy little trusty-fundy twerps they pretend to teach think she's the threat?
As for Brandeis president Frederick Lawrence and the others who took this decision, nobody's asking them to be as brave as Ayaan Hirsi Ali. They will never know what it's like to have their associates murdered and to be forced into living under armed guard. They will never have to "share the risk" that Ms Hirsi Ali faces every day of her life. All that was required of President Lawrence & Co was that they not be total craven, jelly-spined squishes who fold like a cheap Bedouin tent at the first hint of pressure.
But Lawrence couldn't even do that. Ayaan Hirsi Ali campaigns against female genital mutilation - that's to say, the barbarous practice by which Muslim men deny women sexual pleasure by having their clitorises cut off. Lawrence and the other fellows who run Brandeis are in no danger of any equivalent procedure since it seems clear they've nothing down there to chop off anyway. The eunuchs of the American academy are the beneficiaries of western liberty, of the spirit of openness and inquiry that is the principal difference between us and the intellectually stagnant Muslim world. But they will not lift a finger to defend that tradition.
So getting an honorary degree at Brandeis, like serving on the board at Mozilla, is open only to those who make sure they never cross the Conformity Enforcers. And apostates to Islam, as Ayaan is regarded, must accept that they are apostates to American campus conformity, too, and be prepared to lead a life without the consolations of honorary degrees. Accepting the loss of A-list commencement gigs doesn't take a lot of courage, but it still takes more than Frederick Lawrence has displayed. And ultimately, as I said re Brandon Eich, such a land will be bloody boring - and a society in decline.
~Miss Hirsi Ali's response to Brandeis is here. You can read more on the strange alliance between Islam and the multiculti left in my free-speech book Lights Out, personally autographed copies of which are exclusively available from SteynOnline. Profits go to fund my legal campaign against serial litigant Michael E Mann.
from Steyn on Culture, April 9, 2014
Here are two jokes one can no longer tell on American TV...
From two years ago, here's Mark's first thoughts on the Kermit Gosnell case
He who controls the language shapes the debate: In the same week the Associated Press announced that it would no longer describe illegal immigrants as "illegal immigrants," the star columnist of The New York Times fretted that the Supreme Court seemed to have misplaced the style book on another fashionable minority. "I am worried," wrote Maureen Dowd, "about how the justices can properly debate same-sex marriage when some don't even seem to realize that most Americans use the word 'gay' now instead of 'homosexual'..."
Gay marriage? It came up at dinner Down Under this time last year, and the prominent Aussie politician on my right said matter-of-factly, "It's not about expanding marriage, it's about destroying marriage." That would be the most obvious explanation as to why the same societal groups who assured us in the Seventies that marriage was either (a) a "meaningless piece of paper" or (b) institutionalized rape are now insisting it's a universal human right. They've figured out what, say, ...
To modify Lord Acton, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, but aldermanic power corrupts all der more manically. Proco "Joe" Moreno is Alderman of the First Ward of Chicago, and last week, in a city with an Aurora-size body count every weekend, his priority was to take the municipal tire-iron to the owners of a chain of fast-food restaurants. "Because of this man's ignorance," said Alderman Moreno, "I will now be denying Chick-fil-A's permit to open a restaurant in the First Ward." "This man's ignorance"? You mean, of the City of Chicago permit process? Zoning regulations? Health and safety ordinances? No, Alderman Moreno means "this man's ignorance" of the approved position on same-sex marriage.
Media types like to talk about "the narrative": News is just another form of storytelling, and certain plot lines grab you more than others. The easiest narrative of all is anything involving young people. "I believe that children are our future," as the late Whitney Houston once asserted. And, even if Whitney hadn't believed it, it would still, as a point of fact, be true. Any media narrative involving young people presupposes that they are the forces of progress, wresting the world from the grasping clutches of mean, vengeful old men and making it a better place...
Unlike the government of the United States, I can't claim any hands-on experience with Colombian hookers. But I was impressed by the rates charged by Miss Dania Suarez, and even more impressed by the U.S. Secret Service's response to them...
(VIDEO) "'Celebrate diversity' â€” the great bumper sticker â€” actually means 'celebrate stultifying homogeneity,'" Canadian best-selling author and columnist Mark Steyn told The Daily Caller. In an exclusive interview this week with TheDC's Ginni Thomas, Steyn railed against liberal "diversity"-speak and the lack of tolerance for traditional values...
Our lesson for today comes from George and Ira Gershwin: "They all laughed at Christopher Columbus When he said the world was round They all laughed when Edison recorded sound They all laughed at Wilbur and his brother When they said that man could fly They told Marconi wireless was a phony..." Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers sang it in the film "Shall We Dance?" (1937) Seventy-five years on, the president revived it to tap-dance around his rising gas prices and falling approval numbers. Delivering his big speech on energy at Prince George's Community College, he insisted the American economy will be going gangbusters again just as soon as we start running it on algae and windmills. He noted that, as with Wilbur and his brother, there were those inclined to titter...
I'm writing this from Australia, so, if I'm not quite up to speed on recent events in the United States, bear with me – the telegraph updates are a bit slow here in the bush. As I understand it, Sandra Fluke is a young coed who attends Georgetown Law and recently testified before Congress. Oh, wait, no. Update: It wasn't a congressional hearing; the Democrats just got it up to look like one, like summer stock, with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid doing the show right here in the barn and providing a cardboard set for the world premiere of "Miss Fluke Goes To Washington," with full supporting cast led by Chuck Schumer strolling in through the French windows in tennis whites and drawling, "Anyone for bull****?"
Have you seen the official White House version of what the New York Times headline writers call "A Responsible Budget"? My favorite bit is Chart 5-1 on Page 58 of their 500-page appendix on "Analytical Perspectives." This is entitled "Publicly Held Debt Under 2013 Budget Policy Projections." It's a straight line going straight up before disappearing off the top right hand corner of the graph in the year 2084 and continuing northeast straight through your eye socket, out the back of your skull and zooming up to rendezvous with Newt's space colony on the moon circa 2100...
Announcing his support for Commissar Sebelius' edicts on contraception, sterilization, and pharmacological abortion, that noted theologian the Most Reverend Al Sharpton explained: "If we are going to have a separation of church and state, we're going to have a separation of church and state." Thanks for clarifying that. The church model the young American state wished to separate from was that of the British monarch, who remains to this day Supreme Governor of the Church of England. This convenient arrangement dates from the 1534 Act of Supremacy. The title of the law gives you the general upshot, but, just in case you're a bit slow on the uptake, the text proclaims "the King's Majesty justly and rightfully is and ought to be the supreme head of the Church of England." That's to say, the sovereign is "the only supreme head on earth of the Church" and he shall enjoy "all honors, dignities, pre-eminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, immunities, profits and commodities to the said dignity," not to mention His Majesty "shall have full power and authority from time to time to visit, repress, redress, record, order, correct, restrain and amend all such errors, heresies, abuses, offenses, contempts and enormities, whatsoever they be." Welcome to Obamacare.
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For our Dutch readers...
VIDEO: Italy's Costa Concordia disaster has Mark Steyn mulling the "women and children first!" idea with Michael Coren on The Arena.
Abe Greenwald of Commentary magazine tweets: "Is there any chance that Mark Steyn won't use the Italian captain fleeing the sinking ship as the lead metaphor in a column on EU collapse?" Oh, dear. You've got to get up early in the morning to beat me to civilizational-collapse metaphors. Been there, done that.
When Christians take the Christ out of Christmas
Christmas in America is a season of time-honored traditions â€“ the sacred performance of the annual ACLU lawsuit over the presence of an insufficiently secular "holiday" tree; the ritual provocations of the atheist displays licensed by pitifully appeasing municipalities to sit between the menorah and the giant Frosty the Snowman; the familiar strains of every hack columnist's "war on Christmas" column rolling off the keyboard as easily as Richard Clayderman playing "Winter Wonderland"... This ...
Take a look at this photograph. It appeared in The Toronto Star's education section on Saturday: It's the scene every Friday at the cafeteria of Valley Park Middle School in Toronto. That's not a private academy, it's a public school funded by taxpayers. And yet, oddly enough, what's going on is a prayer service – oh, relax, it's not Anglican or anything improper like that; it's Muslim Friday prayers, and the Toronto District School Board says don't worry, it's just for convenience: They ...
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