I am writing this column about Daniel Pipes. This column will not be close-minded. It will not have lies, half-statements or distortions of the truth. It will not be biased. In all of these things, it is doing exactly what the protesters of Pipes' speech refused to do.
Before I go any further, I want to preempt angry responses to this piece with facts. Facts, and not half-truths, are important when judging people and events. Unfortunately, a number of students at Brandeis seem to have never learned this valuable lesson. Fact: Daniel Pipes came to speak last week at Brandeis. Daniel Pipes is not a racist, and does not claim to be one. Daniel Pipes is afraid, as anyone today with any intellect is afraid, of radical Islam. Daniel Pipes believes in something. He believes in the continuity and the moral legitimacy of the Western world, and he despises those who would destroy that continuity. And he makes his feelings known. Pipes is not a racist. He is not a bigot. He may be an Americanist, but last time I checked, there is no crime - moral or tangible - in that.
Here are more facts. Fact: During the question and answer session following Pipes' talk, a time that was supposed to have elicited discussion from people with different points of view - something that Pipes greatly desired - a number of people walked out of the large room where the talk was given. The room was packed with hundreds of people, and only about fifteen people walked out, which normally wouldn't have caused a major disturbance. The students who walked out probably realized this So they walked out right in front of Pipes, rudely and arrogantly disturbing an otherwise civil and incredibly important discussion. One student even had the gall to throw a ream of paper in the air, right in Pipes' face.
Fact: After the lecture, this same group of about fifteen students stood outside the lecture hall, holding signs with statements like, "We will not tolerate intolerance."
Hmmm. Let's see. Who's being open-minded here? Who's being tolerant in this situation? Which party is afraid or intolerant of the other's point of view? The answer is clear.
It seems to me that one of the main problems with liberalism in general, and the utter irony of the protesters at Pipes' speech in particular (made even more ironic by the fact that the holders of the signs didn't realize there own closed-mindedness), is precisely the fact that "tolerance" is only considered such when it subscribes to the beliefs of the individuals holding the signs. These people, in the name of justice, of fairness and equality, shut themselves out of an open debate. Instead, mocking freedom and democracy - everything a liberal American should stand for, they insisted on name calling, lambasting, and rolling in the mud of baseless rhetoric. Pipes took the high road, trying his hardest to have a dialogue with those who disagreed with him, the protesters took the low road, choosing name-calling instead of dialogue and incivility instead of discourse.
Why is this ok? Why is it all right to listen to some ideas and not to others? I can understand if what Pipes had said had been racist or a bigoted in any way. But it wasn't. Pipes was laying out his view of the Middle Eastern conflict, and the ways America should deal with that conflict. If you don't agree with him, that's fine. But don't disrespect him simply for having opinions different from your own.
This, I believe, is the main problem with much of left-wing rhetoric today. Ideas are fine, with the holders of those signs, as long as they are ultra-radical and ultra-liberal. How is it racist to see that so much terror, such as murders, suicide bombings, and senseless acts of violence - much of which is directed at civilians - stems from radical Islam? How is it anything other than blinding oneself to the reality of the world we live in to believe anything else? After the horrible quadruple bombings of British targets and synagogues in Turkey last week, especially bombings which were claimed to be the responsibility of Al-Qaeda, it is not just naïve to say that radical Islam is not a threat to the Western world. It is downright immoral.
But yet still, someone who comes to campus saying just this - nothing more radical or extreme than listing the facts on the ground - is proclaimed a racist. There is something wrong with this picture. Those who believed they were upholding the cause of liberalism and equality by stomping out of the discussion to picket and boo were only fooling themselves. Ignoring discourse in favor of propaganda is not liberalism. It is simply left-wing fascism.
In a world like the one we live in today, where there is so much evil, the first step in trying to make the world a better place is to recognize that evil for what it is. The worst thing we can do is condemn those that do so.