Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Sharia Harvard Style?

From the BBC: Beleaguered Harvard head to quit

The president of Harvard University has announced his resignation after a turbulent five years and a week ahead of a second no-confidence vote.
Lawrence Summers lost the first vote in March last year after suggesting women had less "intrinsic aptitude" than men for science.

The ex-Treasury secretary, whose tenure is the briefest in 140 years, will leave at the end of this academic year.

He said the rift with some staff made his agenda of renewal "infeasible".

Dr Summers' controversial leadership style has divided opinion at the Ivy League university.

His comments on gender, for which he repeatedly apologised, led the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to pass the no-confidence vote last March.

There are those in some departments of American collegiate Arts & Sciences that seem to know as little of free speech as any anti-Danish rampaging horde.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


I am finding it very odd that the whole Danish cartoon business is coming to a head at the exact moment I happen to be reading Laurence Lampert's "Nietzsche & Leo Strauss." What is the connection? Well, a prominent theme in the book is Strauss' contention that if you, as a philosopher, want to espouse something which would be viewed as impious by the orthodoxy of the day, you shouldn't come right out and say it. It is better, claims Strauss, to speak and write esoterically in such a way that you will be understood only by a few who might be open to what you have to say. This approach allows the philosopher to avoid the fate of Socrates, who was impolitic in his pursuit of truth, ran afoul of the ruling orthodoxy, and paid for it with his life. Eventually, teaches Strauss, the philosopher (or maybe a successive generation of students of the philosopher) can gradually change the orthodoxy to allow a safe space for philosophy to exist and prosper.

It is most ironic that Strauss claims to have learned this "method" largely from the work of the Islamic philosopher Al Farabi. It is ironic because Al Farabi's attempt to alter the orthodoxy of Islam in ANY way conducive for philosophy can only be viewed as a utter failure. Islamic orthodoxy seems to be as medieval as it ever has been. Indeed, there doesn't seem to be a level of barbarism the orthodoxy can descend to that the greatest mass of Muslims won't embrace or acquiesce to. As an historical "movement," there can be fewer things LESS effectual than the ideas of Al Farabi in the Islamic world. With this as a backdrop Strauss' adoption of the "technique" seems more an act of desperation than anything else.

Also, it isn't as if open defiance of ruling orthodoxies hasn't worked. Algernon Sidney may have lost his head, but it was his ideas that eventually won the day, not Filmer's. Locke may have had to flee the country during his lifetime, but we still read him 300+ years later. Who reads Hooker but a specialist?

We have already fought our battles so we don't have to live with the dehumanizing orthodoxies Islamic societies wish to impose in their own countries. That strikes me as something we would want to shout from the rooftops not whisper in the shadows. If we start whispering about the right of free human expression the shadows will do nothing but increase.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Kill Two Birds With One Stone

Support Denmark: Buy and drink Danish beer. LOTS of it.

Either you are for free speech or you ain't. Muslims who really want to live in free societies are gonna have to learn how to cope. There isn't any other alternative.

Big time kudos to Michelle Malkin for pushing this hard.