Someone asked me last night for an update on the Hamline “Muhammad Painting” case. I’m happy to report that public opinion, in the US at least, seems largely to be going against Hamline, and in López Prater’s direction. Here’s a sample, focused mostly on the American reaction to the case.
In the original post, I’d said that The New York Times article “tells you what you need to know.” That’s almost, but not entirely, true. Eugene Volokh at Reason magazine has reproduced the full texts of many relevant university communications on the controversy, not otherwise reported elsewhere in their entirety–memos, statements, scuttlebutt, etc. Some of the details matter, but none of them really alter anything I said in the original post. Continue reading →
Erika López Prater, an adjunct professor at Hamline University, said she knew many Muslims have deeply held religious beliefs that prohibit depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. So last semester for a global art history class, she took many precautions before showing a 14th-century painting of Islam’s founder.
In the syllabus, she warned that images of holy figures, including the Prophet Muhammad and the Buddha, would be shown in the course. She asked students to contact her with any concerns, and she said no one did.
In class, she prepped students, telling them that in a few minutes, the painting would be displayed, in case anyone wanted to leave.
Then Dr. López Prater showed the image — and lost her teaching gig.
Christopher Hitchens tells the possibly (probably) apocryphal story of Robert Conquest, the historian: after writing a first book on the brutalities of Soviet socialism, The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purges of the 1930s, Conquest submitted a second as-yet untitled manuscript on Stalin’s program of forced collectivization. Asked what he wanted to call it, he came up with the ungracious and yet apt title, I Told You So, You Fucking Fools. The book was, in the end, called The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror Famine, followed by a third, Stalin: Breaker of Nations.
I lack Robert Conquest’s erudition, productivity, or grace, but I do have one thing in common with him: I told you so, too–not about Stalin, but about “football,” i.e., American football, a bloodsport whose deceptions begin with its name. Continue reading →
There is a gaping chasm between the promise and the reality of higher education. Yale’s motto is Lux et Veritas, light and truth. Harvard proclaims: Veritas. Young men and women of Stanford are told Die Luft der Freiheit weht: The wind of freedom blows.
These are soaring words. But in these top schools, and in so many others, can we actually claim that the pursuit of truth—once the central purpose of a university—remains the highest virtue? Do we honestly believe that the crucial means to that end—freedom of inquiry and civil discourse—prevail when illiberalism has become a pervasive feature of campus life?
The numbers tell the story as well as any anecdote you’ve read in the headlines or heard within your own circles. Nearly a quarter of American academics in the social sciences or humanities endorse ousting a colleague for having a wrong opinion about hot-button issues such as immigration or gender differences. Over a third of conservative academics and PhD students say they had been threatened with disciplinary action for their views. Four out of five American PhD students are willing to discriminate against right-leaning scholars, according to a report by the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology.
It’s time for a jihad against Facebook. My friend Chris Sciabarra explains why. Just to be clear, Sciabarra is not calling for a jihad on Facebook; I am. But the time has come, O believers, to bring the wrath of Allah (subhana w’tala) on this social media platform of Satan. Continue reading →