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Fair point, but what about "Harvard Loves Jihad"?

Reader comment on item: The Evil Isn't Islam

Submitted by John Hadjisky (United States), Jul 30, 2002 at 09:58

Its problematic to judge a thinker by sound bites or even 10 minute TV interviews (with constant interruptions by the opponents!), nevertheless some people insist on judging Dr. Pipes this way. Since he (correctly) refrains from making every third sentence a disclaimer, some of his opponents try to cast him as some kind of rabid Islam-hater.

Looking at the whole body of Mr. Pipes' writings, its clear he has deep respect for, and knowledge of, Islam. But, after reading his June 11 article "Harvard Loves Jihad", in which Dr. Pipes argued in effect that Harvard should engage in prior restraint of free speech, I wondered if Dr. Pipes might be losing his sense of balance and fairness. I am very reassured to see him dedicate today's article to (re-)reiterate that Islam itself is not the enemy, only militant, totalitarian Islam.

But I must point out, I've read Zayed Yasin's commencement speech carefully, and spoke with a neighbor who was in the audience. There were no parallels between "My American Jihad" and "Mein Kampf", as Dr. Pipes feared there would be. As far as I could tell, the speech was what the speaker claimed it was -- a sincere, if possibly naive, attempt to reclaim the word "Jihad" in non-militant terms. I've also read the "making of" articles in the Crimson and the Gazette, and aside from restoring the phrase "Of Faith and Citizenship" to the title, it doesn't appear that the changes made to the speech as a result of the pre-speech controversy were very substantial. In other words, its hard to argue, as some might, that a stance in favor of prior restraint was justified as a means to force the speaker to moderate his stance, and not an end in itself.

I'm not questioning that far too many other U.S. universities are far too forgiving of militant Islam -- just look at San Francisco State University or certain academic departments at Harvard, for example. Nevertheless, in the interest of true balance and fairness (and no, I'm not in favor of the fake, unilateral "fairness" so many defenders of militant Islam invoke!), now that we know the content of the speech, I urge Dr. Pipes to consider publicly revising his stance, or if he still feels Harvard should have prevented the speech, to tell us why.

Regards,
John Hadjisky
Submitting....

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