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The Buckley Program Stands Up for Free Speech
by Bruce Thornton
The William F. Buckley Program at Yale University lately showed bravery unusual for an academic institution. It has refused to be bullied by the Muslim Students Association and its demand that the Buckley Program rescind an invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali to speak on campus September 15. Hirsi Ali is the vocal Somalian critic of Islamic doctrine whose life has been endangered for condemning the theologically sanctioned oppression of women in Islamic culture. Unlike Brandeis University, which recently rescinded an honorary degree to be given to Hirsi Ali after complaints from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Buckley Program rejected both the MSA's initial demand, and a follow up one that Hirsi Ali share the stage with one of her critics.
The Buckley Program is a rare instance of an academic organization staying true to the ideals of free speech, academic freedom, and the "free play of the mind on all subjects," as Matthew Arnold defined liberal education. Most of our best universities have sacrificed these ideals on the altar of political correctness and identity politics. Anything that displeases or discomforts campus special interest groups––mainly those predicated on being the alleged victims of American oppression–– must be proscribed as "slurs" or "hateful," even if what's said is factually true. No matter that these groups are ideologically driven and use their power to silence critics and limit speech to their own self-serving and duplicitous views, the modus operandi of every illiberal totalitarian regime in history. The spineless university caves in to their demands, incoherently camouflaging their craven betrayal of the First Amendment and academic freedom as "tolerance" and "respect for diversity."
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