Friday, April 6, 2012

Another Brick in the Wall

In the song “Another Brick in the Wall,” the British rock group Pink Floyd rails against the psychic isolation induced by rigidly doctrinaire schooling. “We don’t need no education,” the lyrics go, a line whose bad grammar ironically proves just how badly Pink Floyd does need one. It then continues with the still ungrammatical but much more valid protest, “We don’t need no thought control.”
As the Freedom Center’s David Horowitz has pointed out in several books about classroom indoctrination, higher education today is too often guilty of just that: controlling student minds rather than exercising and liberating them. Now the Student Union of the prestigious London School of Economics (LSESU) just laid another brick in that wall, with its recent resolution to stamp out the mythical threat of Islamophobia on the LSE campus.
LSE is among the world's most selective universities, with a highly international student body. It has produced many notable alumni in the arenas of law, economics, business, literature and politics, including world leaders and winners of Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes. Everyone from Bertrand Russell and Friedrich Hayek to George Soros and Carlos the Jackal has studied there. Their Student Union itself is one of the oldest and most politically active in the United Kingdom.
In a recent resolution, the LSESU begins by listing various reasons for their concern about the issue of Islamophobia, evidence for which they cite from publications like the New Yorker, the UK Guardian, and the UK Independent:
1.       The rise of Islamophobia in the UK
2.      The rise of the extreme right in Europe
3.      The 762 Islamophobic offenses in London alone between April 2009 and June 2011 as confirmed by the Metropolitan Police
4.      Ethnic minorities are 42 times as likely to be targeted under the Terrorism Act
5.      Recent Islamophobic incidents at LSE
That last point references an incident which seemed to have been the final straw. The LSE’s Atheist, Secularist, and Humanist Society had posted a cartoon featuring Jesus and Mohammed. The satirical cartoon incurred about forty (according to the LSESU) student complaints about the depiction of Mohammed that prompted an “emergency session” (for an interesting firsthand report from the session, read here). Apparently no resolution will be forthcoming denouncing Christianophobia.
Tellingly, the LSESU knitted its collective brow over “the rise of Islamophobia and the extreme right” but expressed no concern about the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the UK, particularly in “Londonistan.” It complained about “Islamophobic offenses” in London but said nothing about the offenses of  Muslim terrorism there, such as the 7/7 bombings. Nor did it explain that that number of “Islamophobic offenses” includes any ludicrous accusation or perceived offense on the part of a Muslim, such as the outrageous incident in which a British Christian couple came under criminal charges for simply having a religious argument with a Muslim.
After being overwhelmed by this worrying tsunami of Islamophobia hype, the LSESU then asserted the following beliefs:
1.       In the right to criticize religion
2.      In freedom of speech and thought
3.      It has a responsibility to protect its members from hate crime and hate speech
4.      Debate on religious matters should not be limited by what may be offensive to any particular religion, but the deliberate and persistent targeting of one religious group about any issue with the intent or effect of being Islamophobic (‘Islamophobia’ as defined below) will not be tolerated
5.      That Islamophobia is a form of anti-Islamic racism
Why they bothered with the phrases “any particular religion” and “one religious group” is unclear, since Islamophobia is not about Lutheranism or Hinduism or reformed Zoroastrianism, but obviously about Islam. It’s also not clear how Islamophobia can be “a form of racism” if Islam is not a race; apparently they are simply stretching the definition to fit politically correct parameters. Also unexplained is how it’s possible to assert freedom of speech and thought, and the right to criticize religion, and yet be intolerant of anything or anyone that has “the effect of being Islamophobic.” According to their definition below, anything short of fawning flattery of Islam and Muslims will likely have “the effect of being Islamophobic.”
Refusing to let a lack of logic derail their momentum, the LSESU proceeded to make the following resolutions:
1.       To define Islamophobia as “a form of racism expressed through the hatred or fear of Islam, Muslims, or Islamic culture, and the stereotyping, demonization or harassment of Muslims, including but not limited to portraying Muslims as barbarians or terrorists, or attacking the Qur’an as a manual of hatred.”
2.      To take a firm stance against all Islamophobic incidents at LSE and conduct internal investigations if and when they occur.
3.      To publicly oppose actions on campus that are Islamophobic based on the aforementioned definition,
4.      To ensure that all Islamophobic incidents aimed at or perpetrated by LSE students either verbal, physical or online are dealt with swiftly and effectively in conjunction with the School,
5.      To work with the Pro-Director for Teaching and Learning and Deans to address Islamophobia and other forms of racism on campus and methods to alleviate it,
6.      To ensure that this definition is used to promote and enhance legitimate debate regarding the morality and legitimacy of international conflicts and oppose illegitimate acts of Islamophobia on campus.
So LSE students can’t discuss the rampant Jew-hatred or exhortations to violence against infidels in the Koran, or they will be “dealt with swiftly and effectively.” They can’t express a dislike of Islamic architecture or they will be condemned as racist. They can’t label a Muslim as a barbarian or terrorist, even though many Muslims are doing a grand job of stereotyping themselves as such on a daily basis. Once again, it’s unclear how restricting free speech by enforcing Islamic blasphemy laws on non-Muslims will “enhance legitimate debate” about international conflicts.
Like many of the London School of Economics graduates of decades past, the students currently enrolled there may very well go on to become prominent and influential figures, if not actually world leaders. If they then bring to bear the same submission to Muslim hair-trigger sensitivity and the hostility to free speech that they have displayed in the Student Union resolution against “Islamophobia,” then their international impact will be devastating.
(This article originally appeared here at FrontPage Mag, 3/5/12)