Brandeis Cancels Plan to Give Honorary Degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Critic of Islam

Richard Perez-Pena and Tanzina Vega, New York Times, April 9, 2014

Facing growing criticism, Brandeis University said Tuesday that it had reversed course and would not award an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a campaigner for women’s rights and a fierce critic of Islam, who has called the religion “a destructive, nihilistic cult of death.”

“We cannot overlook that certain of her past statements are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values,” the university said in a statement released eight days after it had announced that Ms. Hirsi Ali and four other people would be honored at its commencement on May 18.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

The university said that the president of Brandeis, Frederick M. Lawrence, discussed the matter with Ms. Hirsi Ali on Tuesday, and that she “is welcome to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue.” Universities consider it important to make a distinction between inviting a speaker who may air unpopular or provocative views that the institution does not endorse, and awarding an honorary degree, which is more akin to affirming the body of a recipient’s work.


At first, it was bloggers who noted and criticized the plan to honor Ms. Hirsi Ali, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Within a few days, a Brandeis student started an online petition against the decision at, drawing thousands of signatures. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights and advocacy group, took note, contacting its members though email and social media, and urging them to complain to the university.

On Tuesday, a student newspaper, The Justice, reported on the controversy, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations sent a letter to Dr. Lawrence, referring to Ms. Hirsi Ali as a “notorious Islamophobe.”

“She is one of the worst of the worst of the Islam haters in America, not only in America but worldwide,” Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the group, said in an interview on Tuesday. “I don’t assign any ill will to Brandeis. I think they just kind of got fooled a little bit.”

In its statement, Brandeis said, “For all concerned, we regret that we were not aware of” Ms. Hirsi Ali’s record of anti-Islam statements, though those comments have been fairly widely publicized.

“You would think that someone at Brandeis would have learned to use Google,” said Rashid Khalidi, a professor of Arab studies at Columbia University, who said he thought Brandeis had arrived at the right position: not awarding a degree, but welcoming Ms. Hirsi Ali to speak.


Even some of Ms. Hirsi Ali’s critics say they understand her hostility to Islam, given her experiences, though they think she goes too far. A native of Somalia, she has written and spoken extensively of her experience as a Muslim girl in East Africa, including undergoing genital cutting, a practice she has vigorously opposed, and her family’s attempts to force her to marry a man against her wishes.

She moved to the Netherlands as a young woman, and she was later elected to the Dutch Parliament. She wrote the screenplay for “Submission,” a 2004 film critical of the treatment of Muslim women. Shortly after its release, the director, Theo van Gogh, was murdered on an Amsterdam street by a radical Islamist, who pinned to the victim’s body a threat to kill Ms. Hirsi Ali as well.


In 2007, Ms. Hirsi Ali gave an interview to The London Evening Standard that was, by her own telling, the most unvarnished public expression of her views to that point, including the “cult of death” comment. She advocated the closing of Islamic schools in the West and said that “violence is inherent in Islam” and that “Islam is the new fascism.”

Later that year, in an interview with the publication Reason, she said, “I think that we are at war with Islam,” and said it must be defeated. “It’s very difficult to even talk about peace now,” she said. “They’re not interested in peace.”


[Editor’s Note: See our review of Miss Ali’s book Infidel: My Life in this issue.]

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  • Anglokraut

    I’m very confused; why is a university that is affiliated with Judaism kowtowing to the Muslim bullies?

    • DaveMed

      One could ask a similar question of liberal Whites who endlessly pursue anti-White policies.

      To the liberal, the immediate emotional gratification of standing up for the perceived underdog far outweighs (indeed, it extinguishes) any intelligent considerations of what the future might hold.

    • NoMosqueHere

      That’s an easy one. It’s because most of the Brandeis faculty and administration, and about 50 — 60 percent of the student body are sick liberal jews. Also, as liberal or secular jews continue to intermarry and assimilate at a high rate, Brandeis will not be able to continue as a jewish oriented university. It will have to transition to a completely non-sectarian university and broaden its appeal to others, including muslims.

      • me

        Hoist by their own petard….LOL!

    • Guest

      It is weird indeed, their innate hatred for their fellow Semites™ must be trumped by their rabid liberalism…..

  • WR_the_realist

    A completely predictable consequence of diversity is that we will have various members of the Rainbow Coalition at each other’s throats. The feminist, homosexual, and transgendered part of the left will never get along very well with the hard core Muslims. A political movement defined by what it isn’t — heterosexual, white, and male — is what Kurt Vonnegut would have called a granfalloon.

    • DaveMed

      I think it might be prudent for us to drop the “male” aspect of our movement.

      We will probably establish greater rapport with White women if we make it clear that they are just as welcome here as men are.

      • MBlanc46

        I don’t that it’s in any way anti-woman to point out that the Neo-Stalinists are anti-male.

        • DaveMed

          I agree – I added an edit.

      • WR_the_realist

        I am of course happy with the women who post here. I just wish there were more of them. The lunatics in the Womyns Studies departments are another matter.

      • IstvanIN

        His point is that White males are the one’s being primarily targeted. Conservative, pro-White women as well. They try to set White men and women against each other, to our detriment. When White women have served their purpose they, too will be cast overboard. We need to not fall into the trap of having us fight amongst ourselves. We need to stick together.

      • Hallie Eva

        Thank you, DaveMed. I agree. Male vs female divisiveness will kill us.
        As a race realist and White woman patriot, I belong here, not out there in the upside-down Orwellian world unfolding before our eyes.

        • saxonsun

          But you are the ones dividing.

          • Hallie Eva

            Even women are awakening. FemNazis will, of course, not. They are loudest because they command and are given the bully pulpit by the Cathedral, but thankfully, F/Ns do not represent the majority.
            Have you noticed the increase in the number of women posters on AmRen?
            I find that encouraging.

  • DaveMed

    Watch and laugh(?) as White liberals denounce her as someone “ignorant” of Islam’s true nature.

    • Alexandra1973

      I know what the true nature is.

      It’s a religion founded by Augustinian monks. Muhammad’s first wife, Khadijah, had been a nun, and she was sent out to find someone who could be trained. She found Muhammad. Her cousin Waraquah was more or less his handler–and he was Catholic.

      The purpose–to have, essentially, hired thugs to take Jerusalem from the Jews and give it to the pope. Well, they took Jerusalem, and in a manner of speaking flipped off the pope, said “we’re not giving you Jerusalem, you infidel,” and that’s how the Crusades got started.

      Catholicism for the Arabs. And just like Catholicism (in its “pure” form) it’s a submit-or-die religion.

      • Anglokraut

        Interesting claims. You do know that the burden of proof is on the claimant, right? I’ve never heard of this version of events before, so please, enlighten us all.

        • Pro_Whitey

          I agree. It strikes me as a bit strained. I think it would have been easier for Cat-licks to have adopted two of the major foundations of muslim expansion, predestination and the order to kill all apostates. Predestination would seem to conflict with all other rules of conduct proposed by islam, but people seem to be able to tolerate the cognitive dissonance. I think it has the effect of relieving muslims of guilt about atrocities, because whatever they do, Allah willed it. And killing apostates is a great incentive to stay in the religion. Although not without faults, I think Cat-lickism has been unfairly tarred with the ambitions of secular leaders who imposed religious uniformity to cement their own control.

      • So CAL Snowman

        Islam was founded by Augustinian monks? That’s a new one to be sure.

        • Hallie Eva

          This is a fringe belief propagated by Protestant fundamentalist anti-Catholics, and a case of the religious intolerance pot calling the kettle black, aka projection.
          There are several websites pushing this chimerical mythology.

        • Jesse_from_Sweden

          It’s especially ridiculous since it’s base is that the pope created islam to take Jerusalem from the jews and give it to the pope.
          And that in a time when the jews weren’t in control of Jerusalem (it was in the hands of the byzantine empire, who was orthodox christian and essentially allied with Rome).

          The crusades weren’t actually about retaking Jerusalem, that was merely a bonus, it’s real reason was to aid the byzantine empire that was under heavy attack by islam forces.
          And in that it was succesful and bought the byzantine empire several extra decades before it finally succumbed to islamic invasion.

  • Luca

    Muslims are joining the ranks of the “victimized” useful idiots of the Left. Remember: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. They are joining ranks for the common cause of defeating the White-Euro, Christian, male, power base in this country.

    If anyone dare speak the truth about any of the protected victims, they will feel the wrath of the entire consolidated group.

    Ms. Ali is not a “hater” or afraid of Islam, she speaks about her life experiences as a Muslim and she speaks the truth. She is a brave, intelligent, articulate woman and such people are dangerous to the Left and to the radical Muslim community..

    • Pro_Whitey

      Yeah, if the Jews think the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and they get friendly to muslims, then who is their enemy, I wonder?

      • blight14

        Do you have a mirror handy?

  • The Final Solution

    No doubt if she was spewing anti-white venom and poison and was part of La Raza shouting to exterminate white people she would receive a cabinet full of honorary degrees.

  • I love this story so much. First, the U. picked a prominent black woman with an exotic name to honor, thus proving how multicult they are, but they apparently forgot to look at what she was saying. They assumed she was one of them, the multicult worshippers.
    Then the cowardly administrators hide under their desks before cancelling the honor. But again they try to look tolerant by inviting her to “diaglogue,” a stupid word that libtards love.
    It looks like we can add another group that’s off limits for criticism:
    lesbos, gays, trannies and other gender confused weirdos
    and now muzzies.
    I probably forgot someone, but the white Christian male isn’t on the list, that’s for sure.

    • LACountyRedneck


    • Romulus

      You forgot the single most important group that is completely off limits!

  • Einsatzgrenadier

    I never understood pro-diversity feminists, especially those who defend Muslims. White male patriarchy is bad, but Arab Muslim patriarchy is fine? Just wait until they all have to wear hijabs and risk being gang-raped by Muslims for going on their infamous slutwalks. Sticking it to white males is the only thing that matters to feminists. As long as they can do that, they don’t even care if their precious women’s rights are severely curtailed in a Muslim theocracy, thanks to massive 3rd world immigration and multiculturalism. Feminism is a form of suicide.

    • RyanP

      Islam gets a pass for one reason only. The majority of people who practice it have brown skin.

    • Coral Rose

      Exactly! Some women don’t see the bus they’re being thrown under until it’s too late if at all. Libs and feminists are programming the culture to believe that Muslims are part of the victim class and therefore safer than white men. It’s ludicrous.

  • MekongDelta69

    CAIR is a front group for the Mooz-lim Brotherhood…

    • model1911

      So is the obama ‘white house’.

      • Hallie Eva

        True. Have you looked at the list of visitors admitted by B. Hussein et. al? One dodgy person after another, many with Arabic names.

  • Frank_DeScushin

    Violence works. People are afraid to criticize Muslims because Muslims have been known to riot, behead people, and blow things up when criticized; and people are afraid to criticize blacks because blacks have been known to riot, burn buildings, and mob attack citizens. Violence works.

    • Pro_Whitey

      Tamerlan Tsarnaev (Boston Marathon bomber) and Ibragim Todashev (guy shot by the FUBI in FL) were strongly suspected in killing three Jewish drug dealers on the 10th anniversary of 9/11/2001, and right in the neighborhood of Brandeis.

    • LACountyRedneck

      Right. Whites need to develop a rep.

    • blight14

      We have indeed gotten soft……………..

    • NoMosqueHere

      Right. And no one wants to have a Fatwa imposed against them. You’ll be a target for every muslim maniac on earth.

    • Romulus

      “Might makes right” Always has, always will!!

      The one true constant of the universe is force not egalitarianism!

  • Tarczan

    Islam is a political system masquerading as a religion. Join or die.

  • fuzzypook

    Ms. Hirsi has to live with 24/7 security because of threats from muzzies.

    • evilsandmich

      I believe it was National Review that labeled her as “Europe’s first refugee since WWII”, mostly due to the fact that the Europeans didn’t care one lick if their local Muslims killed her.

  • PouponMarks

    Public flogging should be instated until those responsible for this concede their sickness and mental derangement, which is mass suicide for The West and Jooz, self loathing, and pusillanmity that is off the scale-cowardice so extreme as to need classification as mental illness.

  • Guest

    Its blatantly obvious, we need to send more aid to the university……..perhaps an Iron Dome and some Patriot missiles in addition to $100,000,000 in ‘loans’…….

  • Romulus

    Please don’t be so foolish as to support either this woman or Islam. Cairo has direct tues to the muzzie bro-hood. There are at least 5 muzzies in key positions in the DHS.
    WHY IS IT that so many can’t see that real white Americans are caught between a struggle between the muzzies and their ancient cousins?

    Readers may have previously seen my commentary regarding an uneasy alliance with________. If any had any doubts about my concerns, please read todays posted article on T O O!
    I covered this topic even before this highly regarded professor did a few months back.

  • Romulus

    To undermine our nation! Their rage is completely misguided! Instead of hatred for the Anglo/sphere, they should be directing at the same groups WE loathe.
    Personally, I don’t discriminate, I hate everybody equally!!

    Except us ,of course!

  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote a good piece in the Wall Steet Journal, Friday, April 11 (p. A-13) on the matter: “Here’s What I Would Have Said At Brandeis”.

  • De Doc

    Brandeis is typical of the Ivory Tower setting these days. It kowtows to every politically correct whim, no matter how ludicrous or paradoxical the case. The university today is less about free thought and honest inquiry, than it is about brainwashing our youth into certain ossified ways of viewing the world.