Sadly, Ahmedinejad was right about something

Crossposted on the Intersections ( See that post for links)


​Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmedinejad almost unquestionable one of the most dangerous and repressive dictators in the world. His push towards nuclear weapons is a destabilizing force that is a mortal threat to Israel and to the rest of the world. His threats towards Israel and his support of holocaust denial is awful. However, even evil repressive dictators can be right something, and Mr. Ahmedinejad actually made an ironic true point while addressing the U.N. a couple of days ago.

​Ahmedinejad spoke in condemnation of the muhammad videos that have inflamed the middle east. He showed a disdain for freedom of a speech and the vitriol for which he is so infamous. His position would advocate the imprisonment of those that speak out against Islam and Muhammad. This position is one absolutely incompatible with freedom of speech and the expression. It is absolutely contrary to democracy and the marketplace of ideas.

Yet, Sadly this position is widely held in the U.N​. Indeed, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has spoken in favor of efforts to limit free speech

I was proud of my President for taking a strong stance on free speech in front of the U.N​ this week even if the U.S record on free speech at the U.N. in recent years has not been stellar.

So Ahmadinejad is completely wrong on speech as are the majority of leaders at the U.N. The question is why are the leaders of the U.N. unable or unwilling to take a strong stance in favor of free speech. Here’s where Ahmadinejad actually made a good point. He pointed out the contradiction between opposition to anti-blasphemy laws and the continued support in Europe ( and Israel as well) of laws banning holocaust denial.

​​”[Ahmadinejad] also bore down on those who have revolted at Holocaust revisionism. He did this by calling attention to those who “infringe upon other’s freedom and allow sacrilege to people’s beliefs and sanctities, while they criticize posing questions or investigating into historical issues.”

​I don’t think it need to be stated that I think holocaust denial is at best just plain wrong and at worst motivated by anti-semitic fervor ( as in the case of Ahmadinejad). Most of my ancestors died in the Holocaust and it is sad to hear someone deny that such an event happened. However, with that being said it is completely inconsistent with fundamental freedoms to continue to criminalize people that hold wrong headed or bigoted views.

Of course, true incitement to violence may be one of the narrow exceptions to free speech. However, that incitement must truly be immanent. It isn’t enough to say mean or hateful things. It isn’t​ enough to even verbally threaten someone with violence without any attempt or desire to follow through. These things clearly fall under the umbrella of protected speech. Holocaust denial however stupid is certainly not an incitement to present violence.

​It is truly a sad day when Ahmadinejad can claim to be more favorable to free speech than the average leader of Europe. Fortunately, in America free speech is widely protected and defended. We must zealously guard these rights because they are not as secure as we might imagine. We must never apologize for the right to speak even as we can condemn certain expressions oo speech as bigoted or hateful.


Brandon Flowers defends his faith against Richard Dawkins!

This clip has been floating around for a couple of weeks, but I finally stumbled upon it today. This was filmed on a sweedish talk show called Skavlan

Killer’s lead singer Brandon Flowers came on the show to talk about his band and their new album Battle Born (A pretty good album well worth a listen!). Unexpectedly, he was asked questions about his Mormon faith and after a few minutes of discussing his faith.

Quotes taken from The Christian Post

“The host of the talk show, Fredrik Skavlan, asked Flowers, a devout Mormon, to describe the “beauty of [his] faith.”

Flowers responded positively to Skavlan’s request, saying that some of the things he loves about his Mormon faith are “my mother teaching me to pray, and that I have that communication with my heavenly Father. That’s something I turn to on a daily basis.”

“There are answers to questions that my church has that also are very…it’s a beautiful thing to me, and I’m happy,” the musician added.

Flowers went on to say that he believes Mormonism is a “misunderstood” religion and that people are unfamiliar with it.

Brandon Flowers is a very soft spoken advocate for his faith. His band members are not members and he is engaged in a very difficult career in which it is very difficult to be an active member. Brandon has also done a great job featured as part of’s “I am a Mormon Campaign.” In short, he is a wonderful ambassador for the faith because he is genuinely nice and very highly regarded among his peers.

On this particular show, Brandon was unexpectedly ambushed by famed Oxford Biologist Richard Dawkins who began to first attack religion on the whole and then specifically go off on how The Book of Mormon is an obvious fraud and Joseph Smith a charlatan.

“I have to say that when I read the book of Mormon recently, what impressed me was that this was an obvious fake. This was a 19th century book written in 16th century English. That’s not the way people talked in the 19th century – it’s a fake. So it’s not beautiful, it’s a work of charlatanry.”

To be completely honest, Richard Dawkins comes off as incredibly rude and arrogant in this exchange. He comes out to personally berate the faith of another. It is kind of sad that a brilliant biologist feels the need to go onto Sweedish talk shows to insult a believer. Not a theologian or someone with any special knowledge, but just an average member. I am rather ashamed of the fact that at one point I supported Mr. Dawkins and was a member of his atheist movement.

Brandon did a great job responding to the attacks

“”The book has been studied and torn apart and looked at but I’m not one of the professors that have done it. To call this man a charlatan – I take offense to it…These are all falsehoods – you should do your research.”

Unfortunately, the confrontation ended soon after. I would have loved to see more of a discussion between this two. Mr. Dawkins did not come off looking good when he spent the next day bashing Mormonism and Mitt Romney on twitter with incredibly sophmoric posts such as

“Houston to orbiter. Houston to orbiter. Check Kolob coordinates in magic hat. Repeat, check Kolob coordinates in magic hat ”

“Romney’s Middle East Policy: Native Americans are lost tribesmen of Israel who sailed to America, therefore . . . ”

I have lost all respect that I once had for Mr. Dawkins. He is a brilliant scientist and should stick to actually promoting science. When he talks about faith he comes off as less informed than a first year college student in Western Civ 101. He is arrogant and focuses on silly arguments meant to berate and insult. Reading his twitter feed, it is hard to imagine that this man is an Oxford trained scientist. Instead, he really comes off as juvenile.

In contrast, Brandon Flowers has skyrocketed to the top of my list of favorite celebritie! Killers FTW!

Judge Thomas B. Griffith- “The Hard Work of Understanding the Consitution

On Tuesday we had a really interesting Forum address by Judge Griffith who is a Judge on the D.C Circuit Court of Appeals which is one of the most prestigious courts in the nation. Judge Griffith is a wonderful, hilarious and charismatic speaker and I have had the privilege to hear him speak several times.

He spoke especially about the difficulties that arise when we truly strive to understand the constitution. He compared this process to the intensive scripture study we need to undertake to truly understand the work. For instance, he gave an example of a friend who while studying in grad school spent a whole 8 weeks studying Genesis chapters 1-3.

Judge Griffith spoke about the interpretation of the constitution and how there really is an easy way and a hard way. The easy way is illustrated by an anecdote about a good friend of his that had clerked for a famous justice. His friend gave three steps for how a decision is reached:

“1) First we learn the facts on the case 2) next we think about the fair or equitable outcome then 3) we go find the law to support our conclusion. This is how most judges go about their work and rightly so.”

Judge Griffith declared that “I took a vow that I would NEVER follow my friend’s advice.” He spoke about how he tells each and every one of his clerks that a judge must first understand the facts and then work to understand the meaning of the law that governs the disposition of the case.

Judge Griffith wasn’t speaking in a partisan fashion. I think he realizes that justices on both the left and the right engage in the first kind of thinking. They come to the law with an answer already in mind, and they look to shape the law to their needs. Judge Griffith encourages originalism and an attempt to truly understand the meaning of the words of the laws as well as the legislative intent behind them.

Judge Griffith saluted the fact that the constitution has entered the discourage so much more prominently in recent years with members of the legislature debating not just the merits of legislation but the constitutionality.

Of course, In the question and answer period after the talk, Justice Griffith admitted that often even an originalist framework does not always lead to clear answers. He spoke about the D.C v. Heller gun rights decision and how BOTH SIDES looked back to the intention of the founders and basically interpreted the 2nd amendment from an originalist perspective. Its interesting to note that even if we do apply a framework based on the original intentions of a law, that the result is not always unambiguous. Judge Griffith is not saying that this way of understanding is easy. In fact, he is saying that it is quite hard, but that its the only consistent way to interpret the constitution.

Judge Griffith- Forum on the constitution. “The hard work of understanding the constitution.”

Advice for BYU students- Make attending devotionals the backbone of your week.

Every educational institution receiving federal funds must celebrate the constitution.

Constitution has more and more become a part of the dialogue in politics. However, it is hard work to actually understand what the founders intended when ratified.

Hard to understand their language and customs. What problems were they seeking to address.

There is an easy way out- Rather than wrestle with the text we can take the view that the constitution was the work of dead white racists whose views shouldn’t have much impact on how we govern today. Constitution is a license to act according to modern standards. “living constitution” whose meaning changes with our time. This suggests however that actual ratified constitution isn’t alive or “mostly dead” Federal judges should be the arbiters of the consitution. This is an easier way out then passing amendments. But this view is flawed

A man for all seasons—I will stick to what is legal rather than what is right.

I have personal moral convictions that I use in my life and in the church, but my duty as a judge is to try to understand the law as written and apply it. This undergirds the fundamental view that the people pass laws through legislatures. To do otherwise would undermine the fundamental nature of government.

Judges who replace the judgments of the constitution with their own view take away a fundamental liberty from the people.

Hard way v. Easy way: Former law clerk: “First we learn the facts on the case, next we think about the fair or equitable outcome then we go find the law to support our conclusion. This is how most judges go about their work and rightly so.”

I took a vow that I would NEVER follow my friend’s advice. Tell his clerks- The judge must first understand the facts and then work to understand the meaning of the law that governs the disposition of the case. Felix Frankfurter- Judge is merely the translator of the laws command. Prof. Scharfs- Role of the judge is largely clerical where he applies and implements the law. Judges task is to find and follow the law

Must parse the words that have been put in the law. Their meaning is the command not his own views. He does not lead the law where he wants it to go. Its not easy to navigate the law.

Its not always hard- For instance its obvious that a president must be 35 etc… No nuance to requirement that chief justice presides over impeachment. Other things are harder to understand than simply reading the text.

Mosiah- Reformer of education. Taught children language etc… Understanding scriptures is hard work. Important texts deserve careful and close reading. Spending a whole semester on Genesis 1. It takes much undistracted time.

Far more important than the will to understand the consitution is the will to prepare oneself to understand the consitution

Close reading of the constitution-

Second amendment: A well regulate militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

D.C v. Heller- Majority Opinion (Scalia) and dissent (Stevens) both tried to look into the textual meaning of the second amendment and examined its history and context to give force to what the words meant at the time of founding. Five found an individual right while four thought it protects only a collective right.

Scalia’s study found that the founders thought that the individual right to bear arms as viewed as a necessary bulwark to protect individuals. Stevens found that primary concern was over national vs. state militias and that limits the scope of the amendment.

Commerce Clause- Debate over mandate in Obamacare. Debate was over role of the federal government in our lives. Turns on the commerce clause- Art 1. – Congress shall have power to regular commerce among nations and among the several states and among the Indian tribes

Can the majority of congress tell us that we have to purchase healthcare? We may think its good or bad for several reasons, but the hard work of understanding the constitution is not just asking which policy we prefer. We need to understand some history.

Relates to the failure of the articles of confederation- Needed to help create a national economy.

1942 Wickard case- Supreme court articulated a broader scope of commerce clause. Activity that substantially affects congress. Wheat Quota upheld. Unanimous supreme court said private decision to grow and use wheat affected interstate commerce.

IN health care bill the debate was that there is a difference between regulating a market and forcing someone to enter into a market

Question is should congress be trusted in this case.

Court said that inactivity exceeds the scope of the commerce clause BUT the mandate was upheld as a tax.

Questions over scope of first amendment, equal protection or of national security powers of the president are all hard questions that require a lot of inquiry into history etc…

It takes hard work and not just watching the daily show, but really reading deep analysis in the New York Times, journals etc. Citizenship is a serious business that takes hard work.

Purpose of remarks- I began by applauding increased use of consitution in debates, but it is important to be careful to not use sight of humility

Learned Hand quoted oliver Cromwell

“I beseech ye in the bowels of Christ: Think that you might be mistaken.”

Judge hand wanted this quoted everywhere. Spirit of liberty is that which thinks it may not be right. Some of the debate in our community has lost sight of that.

I distance myself from the foolish nonsense that being a latter day saint requires and even depends on a particular political orientation.

“If you work hard and intelligently you should be able to know when a man is talking rot.”
Such partisan talk is rot.
Disagreement is essential, but those with whom we disagree are not our enemies but our collegues. When we respond carefully to argument we are fulfilling our role in our democracy. Civility is key in democracy. Do not treat those with whom we disagree as enemies. Civility advances rigrous arguments because it precludes ad homenim attacks

C.S.Lewis- Next to blessed sacrament itself…Your neighbor is the most holy object placed to your senses.

As we debate keep in mind the counsel of our greatest president. “We are not enemies but friends…We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break or bonds of affection” (Abraham Lincoln) ( Touched by better nature of our angels.

All Paths lead towards (but not to) heaven!

I just found this incredible painting which expresses better than any that I’ve seen a theological understandings that came to me over my mission. I’d often heard growing up the notion that all paths lead to heaven. I grew up loving this notion that no matter what we did, we would eventually be rewarded by a loving father. The only problem with this thought is that it is plain wrong. The Book of Mormon and Bible both empathically state that there really is one way

” 2 Nephi 9: 41 O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.”

It is clear that there is only one path that can lead us all the way back to our heavenly father, yet is there some way to reconcile these two modes of thinking and understanding? On my mission I thought a lot about this idea and even wrote a poem about it which I will try to upload at some point soon, but I came to the understanding that these notions are in fact reconcilable.

We are all on our journey on the path ways on life. Our goal is a city in a shinning hill that appears far far in the distance. Leading most directly towards the city, there is a super highway that is smooth and straight. It is a toll road, and so the cards coming on the road must sooner or later pay a certain fine for passage. Intersecting with this road are dozens or hundreds of smaller roads and diverse pathways. Some appear to be shortcuts at first as they go directly towards the city for a time. Others, are obvious detours that take one far far away. However, there are a couple of curious things. First of all, given time these roads eventually lead back to the  highway. That is, a driver that continues to desire to reach the city can continue down the path they are on and they eventually will come back to the road somewhere down the road. On the other hand, many drivers get diverted on these side roads. They see the sights and begin to think that are better off elsewhere. They have found their bountiful and stop seeking and moving forward. All those that continue eventually find the highway but have to decide if they are ready to pay the toll.  However, here’s the key to the whole metaphor, of all of those roads absolutely none lead into the city itself; any other attempts lead to an impassible moat or an intimidating wall None except for the highway that is which leads one directly and safely into the city. No one can make it into the city without driving on the highway and no one can drive on the highway without paying the toll.

I like this metaphor for several reasons. It preserves the notion that there is only one path that eventually leads back to the presence of god, but it also allows credit for the many valuable truths and values taught in our faith traditions. These roads do in fact lead one much much closer to God and his presence. They do help people become better, more spiritual and more christlike people. They do so many good things and we should praise them for that. What they CAN NOT do however is take one all the way. The cost for that, the fare that we are asked to pay is the Gospel of Jesus Christ namely: faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost and enduring to the end. Without this fare, we can get close to God, but we CAN NOT return to his presence. That’s really what we mean when we tell people to “‘Bring all the good that you have and let us see if we can add to it.'” We are not asking sincere people of faith  to drive in reverse or to change course, but merely to continue and to not lose sight of our common destination.

I love to see the temple ( Rosh Hashanah and psalm 27)

Today was a very interesting and rather eclectic day on the whole. We were able to attend the wonderful regional stake conference at the Marriott Center and were able to hear the words of Elder Dallin H. Oaks as well as Elders Walker and Maynes of the Quorum of the 70. I got a ton of great revelation from their remarks.

There was in particular a pronounced focus on the temple and temple work especially on bringing to the temple the names of our own kindred dead. I thought about the incredible spiritual experiences I’ve had doing the work for a select few of my ancestors in the temple. I long for the day when I will be able to do the work and help the rest of my ancestors, though that day will have to wait a bit longer because of opposition to the temple work from my relatives.

My family of course is Jewish and so today I decided to go to Rosh Hasannah Services in Salt Lake City. We went to a conservative/reform synagogue called Kol Ami because I went with my girlfriend Jessica and wanted her to feel comfortable and knew that she would not in an orthodox service. The service was pleasant enough and some of the beautiful melodies stirred in me a certain feeling of nostalgia for the faith of my ancestors and my childhood. For a second I found myself wondering if I could have found spiritual fulfillment in the Judaism of my youth.

And then, we recited the lyrics of a psalm that became so deeply and personally meaningful to me on my mission, and I realized that this could never be.

“1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? theLord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I beconfident.

4 One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.

5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.

7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.

8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.

9 Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lordwill take me up.

11 Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.

12 Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for falsewitnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe outcruelty.

13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of theLord in the land of the living.

14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”

(Psalm 27)

This psalm means so much to me because on one of the most emotionally difficult days of my whole mission, it gave me such comfort. As those that have served missions know, every missionary eegerly waits for the two times a year when they can call their parents. In May of 2011 however, my father had decided not long before then that he would not be talking to me–In large part relating to ordinance work of the temple– and I didn’t have plans to talk to him. My sisters were supposed to call me instead, but I told the wrong time zone and so one ended up calling me at 4 am. At first, my companion picked up and hung up on her accidentally and then when I finally talked to her, she was very harsh and critical of me and threatened to also never speak to me again! I think it was one of the most draining experiences mentally and spiritually, and afterwards I got on my knees and began to turn to the lord. In that moment of despair I opened up the scriptures and almost immediately came upon these words:

“10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lordwill take me up.”

As I read, I was filled with the spirit and a sense of calm. I knew that the inspired words of David (or the psalmist) were true

” 1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? theLord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

Furthermore, I knew at that moment that all the sacrifice was worth it, and that I had and would receive the supernal blessings of the lord. Because my family was essentially mad at me for doing essential work in the temple, I took great comfort in the words


4 One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.

5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.


6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.”


Today hearing these words recited in synagogue had a similar effect on me. I realized that I can not look back and can not consider Judaism a viable alternative despite how much I enjoy the tradition, holidays and melodies for two major reasons.


First of all, those first words hit me “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” I know without a shadow of a doubt that Salvation can be found under no name save the name of Jesus Christ. I have felt his redeeming love so fully. At the synagogue today there was a sermon on repentance which was pretty solid except for the absence of the savior. Instead, the focus was on our own actions such as good deeds and charity that we can do to change and be redeemed. The only problem is that this does not work in the long run. Even if we try to do good all the time, if our inner natures are not changed by Christ we can not achieve the change we desire. Simply put, I can never get where I want to go ( back to god’s presence with my family for eternity) or become whom I want to become ( a celestial being) without the atonement of Christ and his grace. I can not find that anywhere else.


Secondly of course is the temple of the Lord. I love the temple and the blessings I receive there so much! I know without a doubt that it is the Lord’s house. More than anything else, I have found my nature slowly change over time through regular temple attendance. When I attend I receive so much revelation and feel the spirit transforming me.





Today, I felt my soul once again stir, and my resolve strengthened to declare as the Psalmist “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.”

Even if I face the desertion of friends or family or those I care deeply about, my most important goal should be to be worth to enter into the Lord’s house and continue to receive the mercy and atoning sacrifice of Christ in my life! These things are worth sacrificing everything else for!

Islam, Mormons and the defense of free speech

Posted on The Intersections

In light of the controversy over the anti-Muslim film “The Innocence of Muslims’.”​ which has sparked/inspired widespread riots and even the death of the U.S ambassador to Libya, I thought it appropriate to republish an article that I wrote in my college newspaper back in 2009 about the controversy over the publication of the Danish Muhammad cartoons.

I think that recent years have only expanded the points that I have made. The Church has shown an incredible amount of cool and poise in responding to the Book of Mormon musical ( even putting ads in the playbill!) as well as the recent ​showing oftemple garments on NBC’s rock city. In the midst of the “Mormon moment” the church had come out looking mature and confident.

​In contrast, this latest incident of Muslim over reaction ​is especially sad. Anyone who has seen the film can clearly see that this film is a worthless, so horrible that it is funny, homage to anti-Muslim bigotry. Quite frankly, no one should take this film seriously. Indeed, if it hadn’t been for the exploitation by Egyptian Leader Muhammad Morsei the film would have likely remained a largely forgotten example of bigotry and hatred.

Violence and hatred in response to free speech is never acceptable! Our first amendment rights are so precious and allow us a society in which we are free to criticize or even mock. As a Christian​ follower of Jesus Christ I deplore and denounce this horrible film, but I also stand strong in defense of the right of these filmmakers.  I was aghast to read that a professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania called for the jailing of the filmmaker! How deplorable when even those that should be the strongest advocates of free speech betray our founding principles.

I will not wade into the political firestorm over the Cairo Embassy response or Obama and Romney’s feud over the matter. It seems to me that we should not be so quick to politicize the death of American citizens. However, I would love see the administration​ continue to take a strong stance on speech as Hillary Clinton did today ( I applaud her for that!)! We all need to be united in condemning anti-Muslim hate and at the same time stand up for our fundamental free speech rights!


Maestro of Dissent: A radical proposal: Advocating cartoon freedom

​On Mar. 15, HBO aired an episode of its series “Big Love,” which depicted temple rituals that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regard as sacred. For members of my faith, the temple is a place where individuals receive holy covenants, which are not spoken about outside of the temple. It is a centerpiece of our faith and deeply revered. Many members were outraged by the episode and some spoke about organizing boycotts of HBO and Time Warner. The church released a statement a week before the airing of the episode saying that it did not support boycotts because they could only engender additional attention and increased audiences for the series. The church urged members to conduct themselves with dignity and thoughtfulness and that such conduct would reflect the “strength and maturity of Church members today.” Most importantly, in its statement the church reiterated “This isn’t 1830, and there aren’t just six of us anymore,” and that as a church with “a global membership of thirteen and a half million there is no need to feel defensive when the Church is moving forward so rapidly.”

The maturity of this response struck me even more strongly as I once again reflected over the violence and mayhem provoked by the publication of the Danish Muhammad cartoons. Even more than four years later, one of our major academic presses, that of Yale University, was still willing to censor Professor Jytte Klausen’s (POL) book that studied the cartoon controversy in a scholarly light.

Yale reportedly consulted experts which, when only shown the images out of context and not with the academic work, declared that Muslims around the world could not help but react to the images with violence. The expert consensus and Yale’s decision, aside from being dangerous to free speech, is utterly patronizing and insulting to Muslims and views a faith of 1.2 billion adherents as immature and perpetually irrational.

I was very disappointed by the campus response to the censorship. People argued that Muslims would inevitably respond violently to this sort of provocation and that the blood would be on Yale’s hands. Violent uproars are never inevitable and blood, if any, would be solely on the hands of extremists that try to distort the debate and draw attention to their hate-filled rhetoric.

Hearing Professor Klausen speak Tuesday about her extensive travels throughout the world, carrying a folder with the 12 purportedly incendiary Danish Muhammad cartoons as she spoke to Muslim, Middle Eastern, and European leaders underlined the absurdity of Yale’s decision to censor her book.

Clearly, the amount of intensive research required in order to compile the book reveals that at the very least, the climate is currently stable enough for serious academic research. Just as Klausen was able to conduct her research inconspicuously, it is unlikely that a relatively obscure academic work would have set off protests or any sort of violence. At the very least, it has become clear that there were no active threats and that Yale Press was merely responding to the illusory specter of political correctness.

Likewise, Klausen’s research uncovered the fact that Muslim leaders initially responded to the controversy with moderation and reason. Diplomats from Arab countries attempted to engage in intergovernmental conflict resolution. Danish Muslims attempted to use legal means—though I think blasphemy and hate speech laws are regressive and need to be overturned—to try to get back at the cartoonists. For several months after publication, civility reigned. At the talk, Professor Joseph Lumbard (NEJS) pointed out moderate statements put out by Arab governments just several days before the major flare up of violence. At first, the flare-up seemed like a very reasonable discussion over the extent of free speech and limits of tolerance.

As Klausen has revealed in her book and spoke about on Tuesday, radicals then began to use the cartoons as a tool to further their pre-existing agendas. Although America had no involvement, cartoon protests took an anti-American tone. Likewise, violence emerged in regions already torn apart by civil war and conflict. Extremism was magnified and dominated the story.

Unfortunately, several years later all we remember is the extremism and chaos. Anti-Islamic writers such as Daniel Pipes have had a field day over the incident using it as an excuse to argue that Islam is incompatible with Western liberal democracy. The radicals have been allowed to frame the context and obscure a reasonable debate. Yale University Press’ decision continues to reward the most extreme elements by precluding any real discussion beyond the realm of terror-induced paranoia. Worse, Yale is submitting its decision-making to the whims of violent extremism.

As such, Yale’s actions only further the completely wrong lessons to be learned from the incident. Instead of trying to work with moderate Muslims to strengthen interfaith dialogue and reduce misunderstanding, we are appeasing extremists that need not be placated and assuming that they speak for all Muslims. We should be adamantly opposing Yale’s choice because we should not allow extremists define our discourse. Muslims in the Western world deserve a chance to analyze what went wrong, and to learn how to respond to similar incidents.

I urge all those that have been silent up to this point to get involved. This is not just about 12 cartoons, but about a major academic institution allowing its decisions to be hijacked. The Student Union should pass a measure in support of the freedom of Klausen and opposed to the backhanded policies of Yale.

Students should write critical letters to Yale which may have a significant impact. Professors in all departments should stand up even more clearly with their fellow colleagues in opposition to such violation of an author’s freedom of speech and association. Yale’s actions violated industry standards and set a new low for inquiry. One does not have to love the cartoons or have animosity towards Islam in order to realize that Yale needs to be vigorously opposed. It is only if we take charge now, that we can transform the legacy of the cartoon saga into one of revival and freedom of expression.

Brandeis and Due Process Rights! The Battle goes on!

Apologize to Prof. Donald Hindley

To the Editor:
I applaud Aaron Fried ’14 for his wonderful column, “Restore Louis Brandeis’ free speech legacy.”Fried powerfully articulates some of the gross abuses that come from vague speech codes on university campuses. Indeed, these vague speech codes are diametrically opposed to the legacy of Louis Brandeis.

He would be ashamed to see a university in his name listed as one of the “12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech in 2012.” Unfortunately, Fried does not go into why Brandeis was first listed as one of the 12 worst colleges for free speech in America. Brandeis is not just on the list because of its vague codes, but because of a specific and shameful incident for which the administration has refused to apologize for. In 2008, Prof. Donald Hindley (POL), a beloved and distinguished professor with almost 50 years of teaching experience, was found guilty of racial harassment for explaining the origins of and criticizing the use of a racial epithet, ‘wetback’, in his Latin American

Politics class. Without the adequate due process guaranteed him in the Faculty Handbook, Hindleywas declared guilty, had a monitor placed in his class room and was not given a written account of the allegations or allowed to defend himself. Student and faculty opposition was widely ignored, and deteriorating relations between the administration and Faculty Senate led to a two-year shutdown in the hearing of grievances by the Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities.

As a Justice Forum editor, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education intern and Hoot columnist, I worked with FIRE and with the faculty to try to remove Brandeis from the rather odious opprobrium of the Red Alert list. As a Brandeis Alumni, I remain ashamed that Brandeis has remained on the FIRE Red Alert list for almost four years despite the vigorous protests of students and faculty. I renew my call to President Frederick M. Lawrence to finally do justice to Prof. Hindley by apologizing to him for the abuses that he suffered and removing the taint of guilt from his faculty file.

—Daniel Ortner ‘10