Let Sarsour spew: The case for allowing hate speech on campus
The City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School of Public Health is stirring up a bit of controversy with its decision to invite sharia advocate Linda Sarsour to serve as the school's commencement speaker. New York assemblyman Dov Hikind recently spoke out against the appointment, stating that Sarsour "is someone who associates with radical Islamists; supports them; shows support for them."
So who is Linda Sarsour: an extraordinary Palestinian-American Muslim who co-organized the historic Women's March or New York City's queen of hate?
Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, describes herself as "a working woman, racial justice and civil rights activist, every Islamophobe's worst nightmare," who treasures her religious and ethnic heritage.
Based on Sarsour's slew of statements, one can thus reasonably assume that "empowering the Arab Immigrant and Arab American community" is synonymous with allowing for the imposition of sharia, Islamic law, in certain American neighborhoods.
With Sarsour tweet-raging at such an impressive rate, her views on sharia are a matter of public knowledge. The thrust of her pro-sharia stance is that Islamic law is reasonable if you only have access to her esoteric knowledge. After all, won't replacing American constitutional law with sharia lead to interest-free loans and credit cards? According to the woman hailed by Time as one of the "Most influential People of 2017," only ignoramuses and Islamophobes can possibly find fault with her treasured religious heritage.
However, beyond the multicultural fallacy that all cultures are equal and have always been so, across all indices, there's the hard truth. Squirm-inducing facts about Islam's moral, religious, and legal code include its discriminatory and violent attitude toward women and girls, as well as the growing threat it constitutes to the democratic principle of freedom of speech around the world. In addition, sharia's hate-filled approach to non-Muslims, Jews, and others is enshrined in law, as expressed through notions of Islamic supremacism.
Still, Linda Sarsour and her supporters whitewash such inconvenient truths, repeatedly falling back on the image of multiculturalism as bringing together members of society through the celebration of diversity, even though the movement has been predicated on divisiveness from its inception. Multiculturalism is a fad that has replaced the goal of social solidarity with the reality of tribalism, democracy with identity politics. The ascent of Linda Sarsour is attributable in no small part to multiculturalism, a self-loathing virus that supports criticism of culture only if it's Western culture that's being criticized.
Despite some of the more alarming elements of sharia, Sarsour should nonetheless keynote the CUNY commencement. Racism, homophobia, and religious fundamentalism should be allowed to compete with democracy, equality, and tolerance in the grand marketplace of ideas. On this equal playing field, such wickedness as represented by Linda Sarsour's interpretation of sharia has virtually no chance of spreading.
However, outlawing her because of her outrageous agenda will only give the current darling of the far left "street cred" and make Sarsour that much more appealing to the confused, uneducated or generally ignorant.
Or, as Oscar Wilde succinctly stated: "I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself."
Only by shining the light of reason on Linda Sarsour's dark propaganda will her delusional worldview be dispelled, by principled men and women armed with the effective arguments that will expose the weakness and misdirection of her claims.
Gidon Ben-Zvi is a Jerusalem-based freelance writer, editor, and contributor.