Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Campus intimidation 

This sucks:
Dear fellow student,

We are writing to ask for your support. Last week, Concordia University denied former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak permission to speak anywhere on campus - including the quiet, and more easily guarded, Loyola campus - hiding behind a "security risk assessment".

They claim that they cannot effectively secure their campuses. We say that it is their duty to protect their students and to allow freedom of speech to exist on their campuses.
This is at Concordia University, which suffered riots from its Palestinian students and supporters when Netanyahu spoke on their campus two years ago. Once bitten, twice shy. Segacs nails it:

That's victory to thuggery over reason. That's victory to - and no, I'm not exaggerating - terrorism over freedom. Because using violence or the threat of violence to shut down free speech is in fact a form of terrorism.

Above all, that's a lack of a free, open exchange of ideas, which is what education is supposed to be all about.

This isn't really about Barak who - despite his dovish politics, is going to be as demonized by SPHR and the Palestinian lobby as any Israeli. It has nothing to do with whether I liked Barak's policies or Netanyahu's or Ariel Sharon's or anyone else.

This is about a competition of ideas, and whether one set of ideas will be allowed to shut down and stifle another. It's about the future of Jewish students at university campuses all over North America, and whether they will have the right to bring in speakers or openly proclaim their views without fear of violence. It's about whether we - as a society - want to accept the notion that anyone can speak at a university campus... except an Israeli.

(Hat tip: Eugene Volokh.)