My fellow blogger at Phi Beta Cons, David French, recently waxed wise about Brown University’s controversial decision to rescind a speaking invitation given to Nonie Darwish, a dissident Muslim and author of Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror. Brought to heel by a barrage of media criticism, notably from Michelle Malkin, Brown later reversed course and re-invited Darwish.
David speculates astutely on Brown’s motivation for disinviting a speaker with such a rare perspective on Middle Eastern issues, focusing on the straitjacket of campus identity politics, which:
“depends on the notion that there exists a certain and particular ‘voice’ for historically disadvantaged peoples. There is, for example, a ‘black perspective’ on American history or a ‘Muslim perspective’ on the war. Those members of marginalized communities who are arbitrarily designated as ‘authentic’ obtain veto power over any other view from ‘their’ group.
This misguided notion of group perspectives applies in ways far more pernicious and personally relevant than one speaker invitation at one university. Isn’t the real cost of historical oppression the loss of millions of individual voices in the great debates of our time? Don’t we continue to deny those individuals their voice when we pretend that their religion or their race has only one authentic expression?
Identity politics (and the censorship it spawns) are so patently silly that it is genuinely shocking that it so persistently clings to our institutions of higher learning. Well, it is only shocking until one realizes that identity politics meshes nicely with characteristics that are truly universally human — greed, pride, and a lust for power.
How many ‘alternative,’ politically incorrect voices such as that of Nonie Darwish are denied a hearing on campuses today? All too many, to be sure. It is beyond pathetic that only the glare of media attention can secure for them a hearing.