On November 13, several student groups at the University of Florida (UF) held a viewing and a panel discussion of the documentary Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West. Fliers advertising the event (which had been repeatedly torn down by free-speech-loving liberals) contained the phrase “Radical Islam Wants You Dead.” Now the university’s administration is demanding an apology from the five hosting student organizations: College Republicans, Law School Republicans, the Jewish Law Students Association, the Jewish Student Union and Gators for Israel. This is likely the direct result of Islam on Campus’s lobbying the highest-ranking UF officials, including President Bernie Machen, for an investigation into the event and its advertising.
Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Patricia Telles-Irvin sent an e-mail to every UF student November 26 that explained the university’s disapproval of the advertisements and asked for an apology and clarification. The letter was slavish, bland, hypocritical and disappointing. In it she fell all over herself in a rush to restore the Gator universe back to its proper leftward rotation.
“At the University of Florida, we have embraced a set of values, one of which is diversity. Diversity is not just about having representation from various cultures on campus, it also is having each member contribute to an inclusive and safe environment and collectively enhancing our understanding and appreciation of the richness brought by such differences,” wrote Telles-Irvin.
UF does so much hand-wringing over racial/ethnic/class/gender/religious diversity, yet it shuns the most important type of diversity a college could ever give: diversity of thought. Conservative impulses are swiftly suppressed, in and out of class, just as the Obsession kerfuffle has proved. Dr. Telles-Irvin and the rest of the administration apparently believe students who feel threatened by radical Islam have forfeited their rights of expression by not falling in line with what is the acceptable opinion according to them, namely that you are not allowed to fear radical Islam.
The e-mail also said, “In an academic setting, differences of opinions are strongly encouraged, yet such opinions must be based on accurate information when describing other members of the community.” Her claim here being, supposedly, it is false that radical Islam wants you dead. Not until I received the e-mail did I realize this point was still debatable, especially since radical Islam has been so carefully quarantined from regular Islam by both the media and the government. If radical Islam does not want us dead, why do all these terrorist attacks keep being done to Westerners by adherents to radical Islam who murder in the name of radical Islam?
Also, I can say firsthand that, “in an academic setting, differences of opinions” are actually discouraged if you are a conservative, here at UF as at nearly every other university. Telles-Irvin hits all the fuzzy buzzwords, some multiple times: “diversity … open and accepting environment … inclusion … feel safe on our campus … understanding … appreciation … valued … respect” ad nauseam. Ask any conservative student here if he feels he is in an open and accepting environment, included, safe, understood, appreciated, valued, and respected by his professors and the university administration because of his political views. The answer will be a definite “no.”
“I encourage each member of our campus community as a start to learn more about the religion of Islam and some of its tenets of peace, hard work, charity and compassion,” wrote Telles-Irvin. Since we are talking about diversity and all, how about making students understand my Christianity, too?
UF is continuing its time-honored tradition of being an appendage of liberal policy: The 1960s liberal lovefest never ended on America’s college campuses, and the “anti-establishment” flag is still flying high. Yet the anti-establishment has not noticed that it is no longer the anti-establishment — it is the establishment. This means their actions affect the whole now, not just them.
All is reversed now. Liberals rule, and they have effectively forced a majority to stand silent. To view a movie about terrorism or to see some strains of Islam as an existential threat on par with communism or to support the War on Terror or to revere President Bush — now, that is anti-establishment.
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