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CUNY Trustees Set to Honor Anti-Israel Playwright–Do They Dare Accept My Challenge?

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Posted on May 7 2011 1:45 pm
Phyllis Chesler is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies at City University of New York. For extended biography visit The Phyllis Chesler Organization.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

As I predicted, CUNY has almost immediately reversed itself. Amidst an internet and email uprising by its faculty and by leading members of the left intelligentsia, the CUNY board of trustees will meet Monday to reconsider its decision to deny an honorary doctorate to playwright Tony Kushner.

Benno C. Schmidt Jr., chairman of the CUNY board since 2003, said in a statement that he believed the board had “made a mistake of principle, and not merely of policy,” in failing to approve the degree from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at its meeting on Monday. Mr. Schmidt scheduled a meeting for this coming Monday of the board’s seven-member executive committee, which has the power to reconsider any board decision that is detrimental to the university.

Once again, “freedom of speech” and “academic freedom” have been hauled in to protect what is, in effect, incendiary and glorified hate speech against the Jewish state.

I challenge CUNY to award honorary degrees to leading anti-Islamist dissidents. I am not talking about people who support the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, and who demonize the Jewish state. I am not talking about the much glamorized Tariq Ramadan, the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. I am talking about the man who “took him down” in an open debate in London. I am talking about genuine dissidents, such as Ibn Warraq, (the London champion) who has penned a masterful critique of the work of Edward Said and who is a staunch defender of the West.

I am talking about ex-Muslim feminists such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Nonie Darwish, and Wafa Sultan, all of whom live in the United States.  But I am also talking about the heroic Dutchman Geert Wilders, the Danes, Lars Hedegaard, Kurt Westergaard, and the Austrian Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, all of whom have been criminally tried for their views of Islam and Islamism. Or, CUNY can be really brave: they can give an award to a brilliant non-left wing Israeli. There are many. Call me. I will give you a long list of names.

Go on. I dare you. Why not do it in the name of diversity, free speech, and academic freedom?

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