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Good old academic freedom

Reader comment on item: CAIR's Twisted Stand on Academic Freedom

Submitted by Saul Green (United Kingdom), Sep 2, 2006 at 11:52

Dear Daniel

Here in the UK we had a situation where the Association of University Teachers, one of the then two main university teachers unions, tried to get an academic boycott of Israel and Israeli academics. It was actually passed at a conference but later repealed. Whilst I believe that Israel, like all democracies has its warts, and probably more so than many others mainly because of its embattled situation, I just found it astounding that when there so many other places that were not just worse than Israel but in completely different leagues, not one was felt to deserve the same.

Unfortunately this traison des clercs is all too common in UK Higher Education. The social sciences and arts are swamped by post modernism and provers of six impossible things before breakfast, while the scientists can't work out how to argue with people who regard logic as a whilte male conspiracy. Nothing new here. In the last century intellectuals such as Bernard Shaw, regarded as a wit but the rhyme's a better description, was full of praise for Hitler and then Stalin.

Fortunately not everyone feels the same. The left-liberal consensus is breaking I think. The hard left have joined with the Islamacists. The soggy left is in some ferment. Trevor Philips, the black head of the race relations body has publicly, and courageously in my opnion, questioned the suitability of multiculturalism which leads to inward looking 'communities'. For his pains he has been attacked by the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone who suggested that he join the BNP, the main fascist party of the right. (Incidentally the BNP is in line with its fascist colleagues on the left and in Islamacist organistions. They oppose the intervention in Iraq for example but were not allowed to join the Anti War Coaltion, headed by the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party and variaous Islamacist groups. Clearly they were the wrong sort of fascist).

Unlike some of your other correspondents, I'm not taking an anti-Muslim line. If Muslims accept the rules of the sovereign state then that's fine by me. I know a lot of Muslims that are happy to do so (and a few that perhaps don't). But we have a lot of work to do in restoring ideas of genuine ideas of liberty and democracy. The corrosive effects of the bien pensants in the schools, universities, arts and press, have done a lot to take away the power of critical rational argument and put us into an Alice in Wonderland situation.

What worries me about some of the comment I see here is that it is as negative as that of the Islamacists. They (the Islamacists) have identified a devil - the decadence of the West. Those that identify all Muslims as the devil are doing us no favours. Rather we need to regain and restore faith in that which has made the West the most humane political and social system in history, despite all its drawbacks. Truth is not revealed nor is it relative. It is approached by often painful and hard work which is what an open society provides a background for. Obviously we need more than just that to face down the jihadists and others. But if we let the Chomskys and Sontags, and their acolytes get away with poisoning the well of truth then it won't matter how many divisions the West has, it won't know what to do with them.

No easy answers

Best wishes

Saul

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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