WSJ Editorial: Banished at Brandeis

The annals of academic political submission have a new honoree in the form of Brandeis president Frederick Lawrence, who on Tuesday revoked the honorary doctorate the university planned to confer on Ayaan Hirsi Ali at its graduation.

By choosing to recognize Ms. Hirsi Ali, an advocate for women and girls in Muslim societies, Mr. Lawrence and his trustees perhaps figured they run the school. Student and faculty activists and pressure groups like the Council of American-Islamic Relations corrected that misimpression in eight days.

In an unsigned statement (we’d also hide if we were Mr. Lawrence), Brandeis called Ms. Hirsi Ali “compelling” but added, “That said, we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values. For all concerned, we regret that we were not aware of these statements earlier.”

Ms. Hirsi Ali is a well known controversialist and lives under death threats because she does not conceal her convictions, especially about the ties between violence and fundamentalist Islamism. If Ms. Hirsi Ali’s critics support the practices she has either experienced or dedicated her life to erasing, such as forced marriage, female genital mutilation, honor killings, or Shariah Law, then they should say so.

Brandeis, a school founded after World War II to defend non-sectarian religious liberty, might also ask if its “core values” now include intolerance and the illiberal suppression of ideas. Our answer would be yes.

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