Dear President Lawrence:
The decision of Brandeis University not to award an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, after first announcing that it would do so, is disgraceful.
The cowardice it reflects contrasts sharply with the courage Ms. Ali has shown in condemning aspects of Islam that she rightly considers cruel, bigoted, and misogynistic, and for which she has suffered grievously.
It is yet another example of how arrogant, closed-minded faculty, and students who believe they can prohibit anything on campus that makes them uncomfortable, can intimidate administrators such as yourself to the point where one of the principles essential to higher education — a tolerance of opinions with which one disagrees — is dispensed with in the name of preserving "a welcoming environment." But the very essence of education is being challenged intellectually, and if students cannot endure the discomfort that that often induces, they have no business attending a college or university.