Intellectual Disgrace at Ohio University
How completely has indoctrination and propaganda replaced rational discussion and intelligent debate in America's universities? We were reminded of just how bad things have gotten several weeks ago at Ohio University, when we were invited to screen and discuss our documentary on the Ground Zero mosque controversy, The Ground Zero Mosque: Second Wave of the 911 Attacks. While universities today idolize "diversity," they actively discourage the one kind of diversity that matters most: genuine diversity of opinion. We saw instead the effects of the stifling intellectual straitjacket that universities force upon students on all too many campuses.
Joining us was our cinematographer, David Miles, who is an alumnus of Ohio University. But OU students and faculty were in no mood to discuss the issues our documentary raised: even before we arrived on campus, the student newspaper, The Post, ran a "review" of the film entitled "NYC mosque film inaccurate, bigoted." It was written by Brandon Kendhammer, an Assistant Professor of Political Science at OU. Kendhammer retailed libelous generalizations about us and about our work, without offering a single example of the inaccuracy and bigotry he purported to find in our film.
Indeed, Kendhammer couldn't have given an example of those things even if he had wanted to. Why not? Because he had not even seen the film. Got that? The Post ran a review of the film written by someone who could not have seen it.
With a fine Orwellian touch, Kendhammer claimed that we wished to undo America's legacy of religious freedom -- without explaining how opposing forces that would establish a law that institutionalizes discrimination against women and extinguishes the freedom of speech and the freedom of conscience amounts to opposing religious freedom, while fronting for this repressive ideology presumably amounts to supporting that freedom.
In reality, we oppose the Islamic supremacist political agenda that supports elements of Sharia that are at variance with Constitutional freedoms; nothing in such a position involves any infringement on religious freedom.
Kendhammer also warned students off the event. He strongly advised them not to attend the screening. It was particularly disappointing that in a university setting, which should be a center of open thought and free discourse, a professor would stoop to such tactics. Was he so insecure of his own position that he was afraid of opposing points of view? Was he fearful that people might be exposed to convincing arguments that he would not be able to answer, and so he had to resort to the suppression of his ideological opponents in a desperate attempt to mask his intellectual bankruptcy?
It was ironic in the extreme that in the name of "tolerance," this professor would himself practice intolerance in smearing opposing points of view, and try to prevent Ohio University students from being exposed to a perspective that, quite obviously, opposed the ideological lockstep in which they were ordinarily forced to march. What was Kendhammer afraid of? That somebody might agree with us? It was noteworthy that many of those who attended the event and asked us questions had obviously taken their talking points from Kendhammer's article, and even proudly admitted that they would not consider our ideas even without having seen a frame of our film, or read a page of any of our books or websites.
In any case, as a result of his smear piece, the event was not well attended. Those who did come were propagandists of the leftist and Islamic stripe. We were told only minutes before the event began that we would be part of a "panel" that included a keffiyeh-clad Muslim propagandist, Professor Ali Ziyati from Marietta College, and that his dhimmi leftist American wife, Jenny Nelson, an associate professor of media arts and studies at OU, would be the "moderator." She had Ziyati get up to speak immediately after the screening, whereupon he launched into a lengthy and mostly unintelligible tirade about "hate," while his wife looked on approvingly. So of course we each got up and responded, but the questioners were not interested in engaging alternative points of view. They were instead unanimously hostile, with most of the Muslim questioners trying to filibuster and shout down our answers.
It was telling that not one student who did attend the film would break with Brandon Kendhammer's stifling intellectual conformity and express any sentiment other than those he articulated in The Post. They simply regurgitated the requisite anti-Israel, pro-jihad propaganda that seems to be an entry requirement into most universities these days. There was no diversity of opinion, no exchange of ideas, no genuine grappling with ideas. Another article published after the event in the Athens News was no better, with no attempt made to present our position fairly or accurately, and ample space given to those who likened our resistance to Islamic supremacism, which opposes free speech and equality of rights for women, to racism and bigotry.
Where is the great debate? The campus is supposed to be the setting for the great exchange of ideas. Instead, at Ohio University we witnessed nothing less than intellectual fascism. Anyone in the audience who might have wanted to express support for our rational and humane position would never have dared to do so in such a stifling atmosphere.
Intolerance, bias, libel, and shallow propagandizing: that is what passes for education on all too many campuses these days. Few schools appear interested in reaffirming in no uncertain terms any commitment to the truth, no matter how inconvenient that truth may be. And Ohio University is certainly not among those few.