Monday, March 06, 2006

Come, Mr. Taliban...

Does high altitude impair the functioning of brain cells? I read the New York Times Magazine article on the former Taliban envoy who is now a student at Yale University in the International Herald Tribune on the airplane while flying home from Italy, and I'm embarrassed to admit that it set off no alarm bells. For some odd reason, I assumed that the Taliban Yalie, Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, was not only a former but a repentant Taliban envoy -- one who perhaps airbrushed his service to one of modern history's most repressive regimes as a mere youthful error but at least was clear about the nature of what he had served. Well, apparently not. This excellent article by John Fund in The Wall Street Journal sets the record straight, and it is not a pretty record.

Some excerpts:

Mr. Rahmatullah became an apologist for [the Taliban's policies toward women] during his propaganda tour of the U.S. in the months before 9/11. Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" captured one testy exchange he had with an exiled Afghan woman who told him, "You have imprisoned the women. It's a horror, let me tell you." The Afghan diplomat responded with a sneer: "I'm really sorry for your husband. He must have a very difficult time with you." Asked by the Times of London last week if he regretted that statement now, he replied: "That woman, for your information, did divorce her husband." He told the New York Times that if he had it to do over again he would have been "a little bit" softer in his 2001 speeches.

....

He does say that some of his views have changed. "I was very young then," Mr. Rahmatullah, now 27, told the Yale Daily News last week. "At that age, you don't really have the same sensibilities that you may have later." He has told fellow students he now believes in free speech and the right of women to vote. He told the New York Times the Taliban were bad for his country because "the radicals were taking over and doing crazy stuff," implying that the early days of Taliban rule were benign. He says he believes that after graduation, he can serve as a bridge between the Muslim world and the West.

If that's true, it's time that Yale and the State Department, which issued his student visa, realize that there's evidence his views are still pretty unreconstructed and, in fact, would be rejected by most of the world's Muslims. Mr. Rahmatullah isn't giving interviews now, but last Wednesday he did talk with Tim Reid of the Times of London. He acknowledged he had done poorly in his class "Terrorism: Past, Present and Future," something he attributed to his disgust with the textbooks. "They would say the Taliban were the same as al Qaeda," he told the Times.

He shifted blame for many of the Taliban's brutal practices onto its Ministry of Vice and Virtue, even though he had defended their actions in 2001. As for the infamous filmed executions of women in Kabul's soccer stadium? "That was all Vice and Virtue stuff. There were also executions happening in Texas."



Lovely.

Even more mind-boggling, however, is the reaction from some "progressive" Yalies:

James Kirchick, a senior who describes himself as a liberal Democrat, is appalled that campus feminists and gays trash American society as intolerant but won't protest now that "an actual, live remnant of one of the most misogynistic and homophobic regimes ever" is in their midst. "They have other concerns, such as single-sex bathrooms and fraternities," he told me.

There was a time when some at Yale summoned outrage at the Taliban. In 2000, a band of 30 protesters gathered outside Pierson College when it hosted a "master's tea" for Taliban representative Abdul Hakeem Mujahid. While the protesters chanted outside, Mr. Mujahid calmly told his audience that "99% of [Afghan] women approve" of the Taliban and that the regime was committed to elevating the status of women in society. Eli Muller, the reporter who covered the event for the Yale Daily News, was shocked that his lies "went nearly unchallenged."

After the talk, Mr. Muller observed someone approach a spokeswoman for the Taliban and invite her to give a talk at the law school on women's rights. Mr. Muller concluded in an op-ed piece entitled "Sympathy for the Devil" that the "moral overconfidence of Yale students makes them subject to manipulation by people who are genuinely evil." That year, Lynn Amowitz, a faculty member at Harvard Medical School, found that 18% of the 223 women she interviewed who lived under Taliban rule had attempted suicide by drowning in local rivers, drinking pesticides or overdosing on children's medicines.

Six years later, even after 9/11, the Yale community represents the world turned upside down. Beth Nisson, a senior, writes that Mr. Rahmatullah's admission to Yale "should serve as a model for American higher education." Della Sentilles, the co-author of a feminist blog at Yale, insists one can't be judgmental about the Taliban. "As a white American feminist, I do not feel comfortable making statements or judgments about other cultures, especially statements that suggest one culture is more sexist and repressive than another," she writes. "American feminism is often linked to and manipulated by the state in order to further its own imperialist ends."

Ziba Ayeen, a Afghan-American who fled her native land with her family in the 1980s, isn't amused by such thinking. "The irony of Yale educating an official in a regime that barred women from going to school is too much," she told me.

When I asked several people at Yale if the reaction to Mr. Rahmatullah would be different if he were, say, a former official of the apartheid regime of South Africa, the reaction was universal: Of course he would be barred. When I asked why, I was told I had no idea how liberal a place Yale was. "But what is liberal about the Taliban, then or now?" I innocently asked. Eric White, a senior, told me that many students believe that regimes run by whites, such as apartheid South Africa or Nazi Germany, come out of Western traditions and are judged differently than non-Western regimes. "There's a real feeling that we don't have the right or understanding to be able to hold those regimes to the same standards."


Boldface added.

Reading Ms. Sentilles' inane remarks, I was reminded of the story in the 1983 Twilight Zone movie in which a modern-day American bigot gets a time-warped taste of life as a Jew in Nazi Germany and a black man victimized by the Ku Klux Klan. Would it be too harsh to wish upon Ms. Sentilles a short trip back in time to life as a woman under the Taliban? She'd gain a whole new perspective on whether some cultures are more sexist and repressive than others, and learn not to sound like such a twit.

Kudos to John Fund for an excellent piece.


More: Commenters point me to two harsh critiques of Fund's article, by Jim Sleeper in The American Prospect and by Peter Zengerle on the New Republic blog. Zengerle points to a rather iffy passage in which Fund attributes evil thoughts to Hashemi's long stare at the World Trade Center towers after a spring 2001 visit to the offices of the Wall Street Journal. I agree, but this unnecessary bit of melodrama is rather tangential to Fund's overall argument. As for Sleeper, who now teaches at Yale, his article is, disappointingly (since I know Jim Sleeper, and think highly of his work), a lengthy ad hominem attack on Fund which criticizes the article on only one specific point: apparently, the Yale student whom Fund identifies as a "liberal Democrat" -- and who is critical of Hashemi's presence at Yale -- in fact works with David Horowitz. I agree that the characterization is somewhat misleading; but actually, this makes Fund's case even more damning, since apparently no bona fide liberal Democrats could be found who would express any misgivings about the situation.



Here, for full disclosure, I should add that I dated John Fund for several years in the early to mid-1990s. I have my share of disagreements with things he has written and said over the years. In this case, I think he happens to be on the right side of the issue, and the overall journalistic conduct of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, which Sleeper brings up, is irrelevant unless it can be proven that this particular article distorts the facts.

46 comments:

Revenant said...

I wish I could say I was shocked by Sentilles' remarks, but I'd have been more shocked to NOT hear that kind of drivel from an Ivy-league "feminist". When you're working on a career in professional grievance you can't afford to get off-message.

What really bothers me about this story isn't that they allowed him to attend their university, but that they seem to have actually gone out of their way to recruit him. A case could me made for turning a blind eye to the beliefs and past behavior of potential students, but it seems a bit much to actually make an active effort to recruit evil people.

colagirl said...

Great post. Call me intolerant, but I'm not entirely sure we need to be going out of our way to bring people like this to the U.S....and sadly, I'm with revenant that Sentilles's comment is about what I expected from her ilk. She *does* realize, right, that under the Taliban she would not even have the right to make that statement?

W.B. Reeves said...

I find the presence of the former Taliban in the Yale student body far less objectionable than the apologetics of Sentelle, et al. Being a product of the public educational system, I've met more than a few equally dispicable characters in the classroom. I'm pretty sure that Yale will survive. I doubt the student body will be contaminated. It's possible that Yale expects to domesticate Mr. Hashemi. Good luck with that.

Sentelle is good example of what's wrong with the academic Left. Enamoured with theoretical systems, geared to a career driven faddism, passing itself off as innovative and radical while playing institutional politics. She makes a mock of her Feminism when she places the claims of culture, in this case a mass of Patriarchical tradition, above the claims of women as distinct individuals. Just as bad, she elevates her racial identity above her individual judgement. How in the world can a Feminist decide to remain silent about the conditions of women in other countries because her skin is white and their's is not?

At least that's how it appears from the snippet presented. I suppose she might have continued with a "however" and gone on to criticize anyway. One can only hope.

Luke said...

You don't suppose alien's from outer space are invading Yalie brains do you? Some of the quoted reactions are just plain spooky. Such breathtaking naivete -- and coming out of the mouths of supposedly intelligent, well-educated young people. This is frightening to me, an ordinary yokel out in the boonies, and I am starting to wonder if maybe Islamaphobia isn't such a bad idea after all. Sort of like Naziphobia. . .

W.B. Reeves said...

This is frightening to me, an ordinary yokel out in the boonies, and I am starting to wonder if maybe Islamaphobia isn't such a bad idea after all. Sort of like Naziphobia. . .

Right, just like the antics of Fred Phelps justify Christianphobia. The comparison to Nazism would be slightly less over the top as well, since the Nazi's were spawned in Christian Europe.

Hitler, you may recall, claimed to be doing the "Lord's work" and went to his death proclaiming himself a Catholic, even as he violated the Church prohibition on suicide.

Anonymous said...

From Wikipedia:

"Godwin's Law (also Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies) is an adage in Internet culture originated by Mike Godwin on Usenet in 1990 that states:

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.

There is a tradition in many Usenet newsgroups that once such a comparison is made, the thread in which the comment was posted is over and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress."

Rainsborough said...

Just how good a liberal must one be to rate admission to Yale and entry to the U.S.? How are one's liberal credentials to be assessed? Are the U.S. and Yale wrong to tolerate the presence those posssessed of certain abhorrent ideas? Which ideas are those? Is there a list? What are the criteria for inclusion?

DKNY said...

Andrew Sullivan has linked to some pretty impressive takedowns of Fund, at http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=11231 and http://www.tnr.com/blog/theplank?pid=10081

Me, I'd just note: Since when were conservatives calling for universities to discriminate based on student's politics? Aren't conservatives urging universities to be more ideologically diverse?

And are you really indignant that students aren't protesting Hashemi's presence on campus? I can just imagine the bizzare witch hunts that would follow once it became accepted to protest the private views of any student.

Now, I have no doubt that if Hashemi wrote an editorial for the Yale paper, or even got very vocal in class about homosexuals being bulldozed, there would be a swift and terrible reaction. But as far as I can tell, Fund is just mad that someone with an icky political past got into Yale. And that seems terribly wrong-headed---shouldn't we rather be hoping that the university's liberalism will rub off on him, and that he'll take some of those attitudes back to Afghanistan? Intellectual sanctions are no more appealing, or effective, than economic sanctions.

Revenant said...

Are the U.S. and Yale wrong to tolerate the presence those posssessed of certain abhorrent ideas?

Well, Yale is favors a ban on allowing campus recruiting by people representing organizations which discriminate against homsexuals. So it is, to say the least, a bit odd that they're crowing about having recruited a person who belonged to and enthusiastically aided an organization that went out of its way to murder every homosexual it could get its hands on.

Which ideas are those? Is there a list? What are the criteria for inclusion?

It isn't that he's being allowed to attend Yale -- although I do kind of wonder why he's not in Gitmo -- but that Yale appears to have given him special treatment and is proud of him having chosen to attend their institution. I doubt they'd be similiarly proud of Fred Phelps. :)

Anonymous said...

Fred Phelps is more liberal than Mr. Hashemi. Mr. Phelps has never actually killed any gays, nor has he ever cooperated with anyone else doing so. Mr. Phelps does not require his women to wear the burqa or anything similar, and he does allow his women to be educated, to drive, to get medical care, and to leave the house without male escort. Mr. Phelps does not advocate polygamy. Mr. Phelps does hate Jews, but not with anything like the virulence of Mr. Hashemi.

Basically, Yale would have done better to admit Mr. Phelps. (And just to be clear, I do regard Mr. Phelps as a hate-filled bigot.)

Steven said...

Frankly, I'm glad Mr. Hashemi is in the United States at Yale. Maybe he'll learn something. If he doesn't, the world is no worse off.

And Cathy, I think you have it backwards. It's not altitude that muddles the faculties, it's reading John Fund.

Revenant said...

But as far as I can tell, Fund is just mad that someone with an icky political past got into Yale.

Calling Hashemi "someone with an icky political past" is a bit like calling a serial rapist "someone with an unfortunate dating history". It really doesn't even begin to cover the reality of the misdeeds in question. The man was the chief propagandist for one of the most oppressive political regimes of the last decade, and he carried out his duties with full knowledge of the regime's many publically-acknowledged crimes.

The spirit of free inquiry requires respect for ideas. It does not require that we remain nonjudgemental about actual actions. If Hashemi had merely advocated murder and the obliteration of almost all legal and human rights for the people of Afghanistan, that would be one thing -- he'd be an asshole, but an asshole entitled to his opinions. But he actually helped DO those things; he actually actively helped and supported the Taliban in its campaign of murder and oppression. His past actions are ample reason to treat him as a pariah until he makes the sincere and convincing apology and admission of guilt that has thus far not been forthcoming.

Cathy Young said...

I have issues with a lot of John Fund's other work, but this article seems quite on-target to me (except for that rather odd mind-reading bit about the WTC).

Sorry, but Jim Sleeper's article (and I like Jim Sleeper!) strikes me as very ad hominem.

As for Mr. Hashemi, I totally agree with rev's last post.

Rainsborough said...

If Revenant and Young are correct that Hashemi has committed what I assume are criminal acts, why hasn't he been prosecuted for them?

Lori Heine said...

Mr. Hashemi has not been prosecuted for his acts because he's too busy being a star student at Yale.

This is exactly why I no longer identify with liberals. These people are loonier than a tune. Every bit of craziness that originates on the European Left eventually jumps the pond to America.

Over in Europe, women and gays are getting VERY nervous. Radical mullahs are now calling for the heads of homosexuals, and they're trying to force strictures upon women -- including those native to Europe -- that the fairer sex hasn't had to put up with since the Middle Ages.

Are the Leftist champions of "gender equality" defending them? They're too busy falling all over themselves to be "multicultural." I, for one, no longer believe a thing the Left tells me. If all the medieval nonsense makes it over here, they are the last people I trust to defend me.

Revenant said...

If Revenant and Young are correct that Hashemi has committed what I assume are criminal acts, why hasn't he been prosecuted for them?

I don't think either Cathy or myself accused him of committing criminal acts, especially ones for which the United States could prosecute him.

I did use the term "crimes" to refer to Taliban actions, but I used the term in the sense of "a serious offense, especially one in violation of morality" and "an unjust, senseless, or disgraceful act". It was legal to murder innocent people if you worked for the Taliban and your victims were the right sorts of innocent people -- but it was still utterly wrong, morally.

Rainsborough said...

Yes, Hashemi is perhaps the least morally worthy student admitted to Yale in years. Yes, it's a sort of honor to be admitted to Yale, and Hashemi shouldn't be honored--quite the contrary. Yes, it's absurd to say that he should be admitted and a Nazi not be. Yes, if he shows that he regularly has to be restrained from trying to take over the classroom, that may well be reason enough to reject him. Yes, his views are morally abhorrent and the Taliban is perhaps the least legitimate regime (of which Hashemi was a part) the world has seen in decades.
Still, his views, of which he is (I presume) an able and cunning exponent, are widely held in the world today. Some of those who hold them are actively engaged in trying to kill us and can't be treated with. Hashemi currently isn't engaged in such activities, and might prove to be a student who displays a modicum of classroom decorum. It might be of benefit to his fellow students--perhaps especially the more blindly and naively politically correct among them--to encounter a real live example of such moral and intellectual primitivism. It might be of benefit to the United States to have its best students better informed as to how Hashemi and his ilk see the world, and that might better be learned from Hashemi than from readings and lectures. But having it pointed out to me how horrible and repellent was the Taliban regime doesn't quite clinch the issue of admission. It doesn't tell my why hearing those views expressed and defended by someone who actually holds them wouldn't improve one's understanding of those views. It doesn't tell me why an improved understanding might not serve to position us the better to defend against those who hold them. It doesn't tell me why those who believe in liberty talk about Hashemi as if he was roaming the halls raping women rather than dodging and evading and exhibiting moral barbarism and occasionally scoring a good point. It can be stipulated that Hashemi's views are barbarous, even that they can easily be exposed as such. I still think they might be worth hearing from one student among thousands. I still think that on occasion Mill is instructive, and one of those occasions might be when Yale students and faculty stand to be better informed.

Revenant said...

It might be of benefit to his fellow students--perhaps especially the more blindly and naively politically correct among them--to encounter a real live example of such moral and intellectual primitivism.

That's an interesting argument. I tend to doubt that the pool of people who (a) don't already think the Taliban is bad but (b) are open to being convinced they're bad, is very large. It isn't like the Taliban is a little-heard-of organization.

Besides, if a significant number of Yale students are that out of touch with reality, surely the fault lies with Yale itself. It is a bit peculiar to bring in an honest-to-god evil non-white man just to counteract the university's own silly PC indoctrination. Easier just to skip the indoctrination in the first place and admit a qualified non-evil student in Hashemi's place.

It doesn't tell me why those who believe in liberty talk about Hashemi as if he was roaming the halls raping women rather than dodging and evading and exhibiting moral barbarism and occasionally scoring a good point.

You need an explanation for why a person who believes in liberty is condemning a person who actively worked to obliterate liberty within an entire nation? Well, I'm not going to explain it to you. You'll just have to think it through on your own. :)

Anonymous said...

For what kind of feminist is anti-misogyny negotiable?

Bill Felkner said...

Hello Cathy,

I am sorry to hijack this comments section but I have responded to a post you made in January regarding my experiences. I wanted you to have all the facts (at least all that I am allowed to share).

It is posted on "Yes Virginia, there is a left-wing bias in academia" comments section.
http://cathyyoung.blogspot.com/2006/01/yes-virginia-there-is-left-wing-bias.html

Just wanted to make sure you saw it. Thanks

Rainsborough said...

I know the Taliban is bad. But adherents of Islamism, some of them, are smart and even informed in their way. There's something to be learned from them (I presume) beside "they're bad"--which as you say, we already knew--though apparently some Yale students don't.

"Condemn" is easy. The issue is "admit."

I assume some of the evil ones (I don't mean this mockingly--the term probably does fit) have minds wherein ideas are to be found, ideas worthy of consideration. Is that wrong?

I also in all honesty should admit have some hope Hashemi might learn something worthwhile at Yale. Not a lot, but some.

AprilPNW said...

I work in the area of immigration law as a paralegal. We don't get involved with F-1 visas (student visas), but I'm pretty damn familiar with visa application forms that are used for all non-immigrant visas (DS-156). As a male between the ages of 16-65, Hashemi would have had to complete what I call the "don't let terrorists in" form, the DS-157. I'm scratching my head over why the State Dept. gave this guy an F-1 visa and considered him no threat to the US. I'd love to see the applications themselves.

Revenant said...

But adherents of Islamism, some of them, are smart and even informed in their way. There's something to be learned from them

I don't see how the second sentence follows from the first. Certainly there's something to be learned from *studying* a person who, despite being an intelligent man with access to enlightened ideologies, knowingly chose evil over good. But it doesn't follow that the man personally knows anything worth teaching.

"Condemn" is easy.

The Yale faculty must be pretty clueless, then, because they can't seem to figure out how to do it. :)

In all seriousness, though, while condemnation is "easy", it is also important. When a person gets up in public and preaches ideas which are abhorrent to underlying principles of enlightened society, condemning and shunning him until he mends his ways is a vitally important thing to do. Saying "well, its just his perspective" sends a message that the underlying principles of enlightened society are just one more point of view and there's nothing wrong with wanting to destroy them.

The issue is "admit."

"Admit" in what context?

I assume some of the evil ones (I don't mean this mockingly--the term probably does fit) have minds wherein ideas are to be found, ideas worthy of consideration. Is that wrong?

It is certainly possible that Hashemi has ideas worth sharing, but (a) he's given no evidence of such ideas, (b) as a famous public figure he doesn't need to go to Yale to share them, and (c) the probability is that his ideas are of lower quality than that of the average Yale recruit, including whichever anoymous American student got bumped from the admittance rolls to make room for Hashemi. It all adds up to "Yale had no reason to admit Hashemi for his ideas".

I also in all honesty should admit have some hope Hashemi might learn something worthwhile at Yale. Not a lot, but some.

I guess. In a just world he'd have died in screaming agony four years ago. I can't bring myself to feel cheerful about the outside possibility of his one day not being a fascist asshole.

mythago said...

since apparently no bona fide liberal Democrats could be found who would express any misgivings about the situation

You make a rather odd assumption about journalism--that, on taking the word of a convenient volunteer who claims to be a liberal Democrat, a journalist is going to bother to do any, like, investigation to find out whether this is indeed representative of liberal Democrat views on campus. (And to brush off this person's apparently deliberate and malicious deception as 'somewhat misleading' as beneath you.)

Cathy, I'm sure you've been in the position of seeing a journalist cherry-pick a particularly vocal idiot from 'your side' on an issue and pretend that idiot speaks for all of you, ignoring evidence to the contrary. Do you think this only happens to conservatives? Do you think the NYT would never stoop to such laziness?

By all means, condemn self-labelled 'liberals' who rush to cozy up to this guy, but your eagerness to play liberal-basher on the NYT's say-so is disappointing.

Cathy Young said...

mythago -- I agree with you on one point, I was wrong to say that no liberal Democrats are apparently willing to speak up in criticism of Hashemi.

However, having looked up the student in question, Jamie Kirchik, I think Sleeper's characterization of him is misleading as well. I don't know under what circumstances he has worked with David Horowitz, but he certainly has liberal views on many issues. See a selection of his columns here.

Ampersand said...

Next time I want to sum up current libertarian or right-wing views, I must remember that the fair thing to do is to quote the most appalling statement I can find any undergraduate libertarian saying in the comments section of some blog no one's ever heard of.

I agree that Sentilles' statement was appalling, although it should be noted that in the same paragraph she also said that "the Taliban itself is a repressive regime especially with regard to its treatment of women." And in the same comments thread another poster wrote:

I'm a feminist and appreciated much of your op piece in the Herald, Della. But I absolutely disagree with your refusal to judge the Taliban or gential mutilation because they are of another culture. As a feminist, I can't ignore these hugely blatant violations of human rights against women. And I don't think most feminists do either.

Revenant said...

Next time I want to sum up current libertarian or right-wing views, I must remember that the fair thing to do is to quote the most appalling statement I can find any undergraduate libertarian saying in the comments section of some blog no one's ever heard of

If you want to argue against the idea that liberals have been supportive of Yale, why not cite a few liberals we've heard of who don't support them? Cathy might be wrong, but your argument doesn't demonstrate that she is.

So far three regular liberal commenters have offered comments in this forum. None of you has criticized Yale's decision to admit Hashemi; all of you have criticized people for criticizing Yale. And the closest any of you have been able to come to citing a liberal critic of Hashemi's admission is a single anonymous commenter in a blog comment thread.

Anonymous said...

Well, liberal as I am, I don't think he should have been admitted to Yale. Plus,I thought Sentilles comment was just pathetic. Coming from a Southern family, I am fine when PC=manners. It is when it crosses that boundry, appearing to condone people who do horrible things, that I just can't abide by it.

Z

mythago said...

why not cite a few liberals we've heard of who don't support them?

You've heard of any of the liberals quoted in the NYT article?

Revenant said...

You've heard of any of the liberals quoted in the NYT article?

You mean the ones supporting Hashemi? No, I can't say that I have. But you and ampersand have been trying to argue that the views of those unknown liberals are non-representative. Since you've been coy about what your own beliefs are, and since only a single equally-obscure liberal source has been cited as opposing Hashemi, I thought it might be a good idea for you to actually offer some supporting evidence for your argument. If those pro-Hashemi views are, indeed, far out of the mainstream, surely there will be some mainstream views contradicting them? Perhaps from some liberal Yale professors, at least?

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not saying the the left generally supports this kind of nonsense. I honestly have no idea what the prevailing attitude is; I can see it going either way. I'm just saying you're not offering any support for your attacks.

colagirl said...

But I absolutely disagree with your refusal to judge the Taliban or gential mutilation because they are of another culture. As a feminist, I can't ignore these hugely blatant violations of human rights against women. And I don't think most feminists do either.

I wish I could say the same with equal confidence....*sigh* I have vivid memories of sitting in class listening to a fiercely liberal professor who identified as feminist (and I believe was also lesbian, not that the two are identical of course) squirm, twist, and turn ideological backflips in an attempt to find a PC way to condemn female genital mutilation. I think she eventually managed to pull it off, but I don't remember what construct she came up with for it, and she definitely did not do so in unambiguous terms like "Female genital mutilation is a violation of human rights." (This was the same professor who continually made derogatory statements about white males--to a class consisting exclusively of white and Asian females and a couple of gay Asian males.)

mythago said...

But you and ampersand have been trying to argue that the views of those unknown liberals are non-representative.

Actually, I've been trying to argue that it's not 'representative' to cherry-pick a blog post or two and claim that speaks for All Liberals, or even Most Liberals.

Perhaps the majority of liberals at Yale do support Hashemi. You couldn't tell, in an intellectually honest way, from the article.

I'm scratching my head over why the State Dept. gave this guy an F-1 visa and considered him no threat to the US.

Me too, April. I keep thinking there must be some kind of Project Paperclip clone going on--be a good terrorist and flip, or have useful information, and we'll move you to a privileged life in the US?

Revenant said...

I've been trying to argue that it's not 'representative' to cherry-pick a blog post or two and claim that speaks for All Liberals, or even Most Liberals. Perhaps the majority of liberals at Yale do support Hashemi.

If you don't know what the prevailing view is, what's your basis for claiming the quotes were "cherry-picked"? That's a term used to describe selectively picking nonrepresentative samples in order to create a misleading impression.

Luke said...

I confess I am an Islamaphobe. Or if not then I am in the process of becoming one. For this reason I rather like the suggestion that having Mr. Hashemi on campus may be a learning experience for the other students. It certainly will be if they also go to the trouble of reading any reasonably complete biography of the founder of Islam, whether written by an unbiased scholar or a true believer. I recommend the scholarly two volume life by Montgomery Watt, particularly volume II.

They will read the story of a man who, though he may have started out preaching peace and love (sort of like
Eminem), ended up as the charismatic leader of a band of self-confessed brigands living off the loot of the land. They will read about episodes in which the founder of Islam solicits the murder of popular singers of his day because they had the temerity to ridicule his claims to be a prophet of God. In one famous scene Mohammad looks on while a group of enemy soldiers who have been captured on the battlefield are systematically slaughtered in front of their wives and daughters; later that evening (if memory serves) he forces with one of the wives -- or was it a daughter? -- and encourages his followers to do likewise. And then there is a case of ethnic cleansing in which the founder of this cult of intolerance orders an entire Jewish tribe to be expelled from the Arab peninsula.

The trouble here is that serious Muslims regard Mohammad not only as a prophet of God but as the perfect model of a human being. He was the man who could do no wrong. Not all Muslims are serious Muslims of course, anymore than all Christians are serious Christians. The overwhelming majority no doubt pays lip service to the official creeds of their faith when in reality they are just giving voice to so many "Corn-pone Opinions" to use a phrase of Mark Twain's; corn-pone opinions are the ones we say we hold so as to get along with the neighbors.

I conclude that the only good Muslim is one who doesn't take his religion seriously. Unfortunately this does not include Mr. Hashemi nor a growing number of other young native-born Muslims in the world today, both here and abroad. We should be afraid of them and their beliefs and have every right to be.

Lori Heine said...

Whether ALL liberals are enabling Islamist extremism or not, it seems, to me, very worthwhile to discuss it.

The claims being made by those farther to the Right -- that liberals are letting political correctness keep them from standing up to Islamist bullies -- are certainly raising the hackles of those on the Left. Maybe that's not such a bad thing. In the struggle to save Western society from being overrun by those who would destroy it, we need all hands on deck.

If liberals need to be shamed into standing up to people like Hashemi (or Louis Farrahkan, who has gotten a free ride from the Left for years), then so be it.

mythago said...

what's your basis for claiming the quotes were "cherry-picked"?

First, it's the New York Times. 'Nuff said.

Second, I have no way of knowing those quotes, or those people, were representative. We have, what, one person who worked with David Horowitz and a few blog posts? How does that show most, or even many, liberals agree with those?

Revenant said...

First, it's the New York Times. 'Nuff said

Not really. New York Times writers are intimately familiar with what mainstream liberals are thinking. If it was an article about, say, small town America or the Republican Party, then I could believe they were clueless and just quoting whomever they could find to return their calls.

Second, I have no way of knowing those quotes, or those people, were representative.

Um... so by "cherry-picked", you meant they might, indeed, represent mainstream liberal opinion? That's a strange use of the term. :)

W.B. Reeves said...

Not really. New York Times writers are intimately familiar with what mainstream liberals are thinking. If it was an article about, say, small town America or the Republican Party, then I could believe they were clueless and just quoting whomever they could find to return their calls.

There you have it. The NYT is the authentic voice of liberal opinion because, as we all know, there are no Liberals in "small town America."

mythago said...

you meant they might, indeed, represent mainstream liberal opinion?

I mean that it's possible that the majority of liberals at Yale might agree with the people the author picked out--as we say in the law, anything's *possible*. (Nice try expanding it to 'mainstream liberal opinion,' though.) Do I think that because the author decided to quote a couple of useful idiots, that's a clear indication of how Yale liberals think? No.

The NYT represents a fine strain of what my dad calls "Lincoln liberal" thinking. There's a reason they have an absolute fetish for editorals and articles screaming that women pine to quit their jobs and stay home to bake cookies, and it's not because they're trying to please their red-state constituency.

Revenant said...

There you have it. The NYT is the authentic voice of liberal opinion because, as we all know, there are no Liberals in "small town America."

First of all, I said that the NYT was intimately familiar with mainstream liberal thought, not that they are the "official voice" of liberals (whatever that means).

And of course there are small-town liberals. What's that got to do with anything? Existance doesn't imply mainstream status. The politics of the Times -- support for abortion rights, gay rights, gun control, and government-supported health care, oppsition to the Iraq war, George Bush, and the religious right, etc -- are all positions that show strong majority support among self-identified liberals. If there's some position the Times regularly advocates that most liberals disagree with, I'm open to seeing evidence of that. :)

Revenant said...

I mean that it's possible that the majority of liberals at Yale might agree with the people the author picked out

If its possible, and you've no evidence that it isn't true, then where do you get off accusing the author of "cherry-picking" quotes and engaging in lazy reporting?

Nice try expanding it to 'mainstream liberal opinion,' though.

It seemed to me that you were arguing that the quoted views contradicted mainstream liberal opinion. Was I wrong to get that impression?

Do I think that because the author decided to quote a couple of useful idiots, that's a clear indication of how Yale liberals think?

Unsupported ad hominem attacks on the subjects of the article don't carry any weight as evidence. I suggest that before you make further accusations of lazy journalism, you expend a bit of effort on your own to support your argument.

Ilkka Kokkarinen said...

luke: This is frightening to me, an ordinary yokel out in the boonies, and I am starting to wonder if maybe Islamaphobia isn't such a bad idea after all. Sort of like Naziphobia...

I have often wondered why the exact same people who get all angry and huffy when some White American says that he doesn't think that gay marriage is a 100% good thing suddenly get all mushy and tolerant when they meet a culture in whose mainstream the relevant question is not whether gays should be able to marry, but whether gays should even have the right to live.

And the same goes for pretty much every issue that the progressives like, such as sexual equality, separation of church and state, reality-based science, environmental issues etc.

It's a pure and simple double standard, I guess. You just kind of expect more from some groups than from some other groups.

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