Op-Ed: Brandeis Feminists Fail the Historic Moment
Prof. Phyllis CheslerThe writer, a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum and recipient...
Scroggins, like so many left feminists, has absolutely no idea about the long and barbaric history of Islamic imperialism, colonialism, racism, slavery, and its practice of gender and religious apartheid.
The Brandeis professors who demanded that Ayaan Hirsi Ali be “immediately” dis-invited wrote that “we are filled with shame at the suggestion that (Hirsi Ali’s) above-quoted sentiments express Brandeis’s values.”
The professors also castigated Hirsi Ali for her “core belief of the cultural backwardness of non-western peoples” and for her suggestion that “violence toward girls and women is particular to Islam.”
The professors note that such a view “obscure(es) such violence in our midst among non-Muslims, including on our own campus.”
This is exactly what these professors are teaching the more than four thousand Brandeis students who signed a petition to rescind Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s award.
Are eight-year old girls being genitally mutilated at Brandeis or forced into polygamous marriages with men old enough to be their grandfathers? Are they being forcibly face-veiled or honor murdered for refusing to marry their first cousins? Perhaps they are being executed because they have been raped, for leaving an abusive marriage, or for daring to express an independent opinion?
Eighty-seven professors or 29% of the Brandeis faculty signed this letter. These professors teach Physics, Anthropology, Near Eastern and Jewish Studies, English, Economics, Music, Film, Computer Science, Math, Sociology, Education—and Women and Gender Studies. Four percent of the signatories teach Anthropology, 6% teach Near Eastern and Jewish Studies, 9% teach Physics—and 21% teach Women and Gender Studies.
In my 2005 book, The Death of Feminism, this is precisely what I was talking about, namely, the feminist departure from universal human rights, a greater focus on anti-racism than on anti-sexism, and a deadly multi-cultural relativism. These Brandeis feminists, both male and female, are defending Islamist supremacism, (which is not a race), and attacking an African Somali women, who happens to be a feminist hero.
Feminists have called Hirsi Ali an “Islamophobe” and a “racist” many times for defending Western values such as women’s rights, gay rights, human rights, freedom of religion, the importance of intellectual diversity, etc.
The 1960s-early 1970s feminism I once championed — and still do — was first taken over by Marxists and ideologically "Stalinized." It was then conquered again by Islamists and ideologically "Palestinianized."
I and a handful of others maintained honorable minority positions on a host of issues. In time, women no longer mattered as much to many feminists — at least, not as much as Edward Said's Arab men of color did. The Arab men were more fashionable victims who had not only been formerly "colonized" but who, to this day are, allegedly, still being “occupied."
Feminists became multi-cultural relativists and as such, refused to criticize other cultures, including misogyny within those other cultures.
Feminists have been attacking Ayaan Hirsi Ali for years as a “racist” and an “Islamophobe.” They are guided by the same false moral equivalents which the above Brandeis professors share. It is similar to the kind of false moral equivalence that author Deborah Scroggins made when she compared Hirsi Ali to one Aafiya Siddiqui in her 2012 book: Wanted Women. Faith, Lies, and the War on Terror: The Lives of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Aafia Siddiqui., Scroggins is far more sympathetic to the Pakistani-born, American-educated Aafia Siddiqui, who became an Islamist terrorist and a rabid Jew hater (she is known as Lady Al Qaeda), than she is towards the Somali-Dutch feminist and apostate Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who eloquently opposes Islamic jihad, Islamic gender and religious apartheid. Hirsi Ali also supports the Jewish state.
Siddiqui married the nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), one of the masterminds of 9/11. She disappeared into Pakistan for many years. Then she was found wandering in Afghanistan, in Ghazni, where she was arrested by American soldiers after they found her carrying bomb-making and chemical warfare instructions. In captivity, she picked up one of the soldiers' guns and shot at him.
Guess what? Siddiqui received a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Brandeis University. The university is certainly not to blame for her actions. However, according to Scroggins, as a student in America, Siddiqui joined the infamous Muslim Students Association and fell under the spell of one of bin Laden's own mentors who ran a Muslim charity in Brooklyn, New York. This is the same Muslim Student Association (a Muslim Brotherhood- and Hamas-related enterprise in America) that has just played such a prominent role in the Brandeis campaign to dis-invite Hirsi Ali.
Scroggins still views Siddiqui as a victim. Siddiqui is a religious Muslim, veiled to the eyeballs, and has been sentenced to 86 years in prison. Many Muslims view her as a freedom fighter and, therefore, as innocent and as unjustly imprisoned.
Scroggins—and the “dis-invite her” Brandeis professors--represent your typical left point of view. The West has caused jihad due to its allegedly imperialist, colonialist, racist, and capitalist policies. Anyone who does not blame the West, especially America and Israel, is politically suspect. Scroggins, like so many left feminists, has absolutely no idea about the long and barbaric history of Islamic imperialism, colonialism, racism, slavery, and its practice of gender and religious apartheid.
Hirsi Ali championed the West, democracy, women's rights, human rights, religious tolerance, etc. over and above the Islam that she had been exposed to in the Middle East. She became an apostate, a member of the Dutch Parliament, and ultimately, a woman who needed round-the-clock security against all the Islamist death threats against her.
Nevertheless, throughout the book, Scroggins shares Aafiya's political analysis and condemns and challenges Ayaan's views. Only on the very last page of her book, does Scroggins admit that the entire premise of her “morally equivalent” comparison is flawed. She writes:
"That is not to say they are equivalent figures, morally or otherwise. They are not. Ayaan…fights only with words whereas the evidence leads me to conclude that Aafiya was almost certainly plotting murder during her missing years and perhaps prepared to further a biological or chemical attack on the United States on a scale to rival 9/11."
I wonder if the above Brandeis professors would also sympathize with Aafiya Siddiqui? I mourn the loss of an activist, vibrant, intellectually independent, and politically incorrect feminist Academy.
AUTHOR BIO: Phyllis Chesler is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies, a Fellow at the Middle East Forum, the author of thousands of articles, including studies of honor killing, and the author of fifteen books, including Women and Madness and Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman. Her fifteenth book, An American Bride in Kabul won a 2013 National Jewish Book Award. She may be reached at her website www.phyllis-chesler.com