Here in my home town of Berkeley, the capital of the Left Coast, the courageous Nonie Darwish, the Palestinian-born author of Now they Call Me Infidel; Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel and the War on Terror, was scheduled to speak in the lion's den of UC Berkeley on Monday. So I made my way to campus after serious coffee-loading.
The Berkeley College Republicans, local sponsors of the talk, call themselves "the new free speech movement". How true!
There were several Berkeley police in the hall and one who remained in the room throughout—a good thing since there were several hostile outbursts which led to the removal of hecklers by police. It was hard enough to listen under such conditions, but speaking when people are screaming "racist" at you must be supremely challenging.
Fortunately, Nonie Darwish is passionate and dedicated. She told the audience the story of her life, and wove her opinions around what she has experienced as a daughter of Islam. She was raised in a traditional Muslim home and was taught in school in Gaza that she should hate Jews and Christians. That message was the first indication to her that something was wrong with Islam.
She immigrated to the United States in 1978 and is now a citizen. She cherishes the freedom accorded to her in this country, particularly as a woman. During the 30 years she lived in Arab society she saw honor killings of girls, oppression of women, polygamy and multi-wifing's devastating effect on family relations. She that said her mother's generation in Egypt were all subjected to clitoridectomy, but that this horrific practice has now nearly ended there. (So there is a glimmer of positive change to report in the Arab world!)
Darwish's lecture was one of dozens of lectures at colleges and universities around the country being sponsored by the Zionist David Horowitz Freedom Center as part of its Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week to combat the leftist political correctness which has overtaken many campuses like a brain-eating bacteria. (Watch a trailer from Indoctrinate U to get an idea of the Stalinist conformity that passes for intellectual discourse in the ivy halls these days.)
The events are providing a view into how infiltrated America's campuses have become with textbook-carrying jihadists and their allies. If the squawking in response to a few lectures is any indication, the situation is very bad indeed.
The far left campus community has taken the side of America-hating Muslims and condemned what it deemed a "crazy campaign against decency, reason and open dialogue" and offered a response kit to fend off any challenging thoughts. Rather than discuss honestly the genuine danger presented by hostile Islamists residing in America, leftists characterized concerned conservatives and other realists as marching Nazis. The left has enthusiastically embraced Islam, the reigning world champ of bloodthirsty cruelty. Whatever happened to the left supporting women's rights and uplifting the oppressed? Or were those issues always a pose?
Today only diversity of skin color and ethnicity count for anything with the left. Crazy ideologies have made campuses into very expensive insane asylums, where the inmates get degrees instead of release.
However, it is an irony that the question was asked. Darwish is a huge defender of Arab people. She said more than once that she still loves her culture of origin and wants Arabs to realize their violence and absence of critical thinking are self-destructive as well as harmful to others.
Some critics of Islam, particularly JihadWatch's Robert Spencer, have traced the origin of jihad within the Koran and other basic texts. For a "religion of peace," Islam certainly does contain of lot of admonitions to smite the infidel. In addition, Spencer and others have noted the historical connections between modern Islam and 20th century fascism. During WWII, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al Husseini, was openly pro-Hitler.
But Nonie Darwish is not one of those who regard Islam's problems as foundational. She believes that the majority of Muslims living in America are peace-loving and enjoy the freedoms available here: "Militants are ruining the good name of Islam." But she has criticized Arabs residing in America for their silence regarding the terror and chaos spread in the name of Allah.
She blamed Arab media and politicians for constantly railing about America and Israel, while ignoring atrocities committed by Muslims. Arabs are too busy "fighting imaginary Jews of their own creation" to hold up a self-critical mirror to Islamic societies. "None of them knew Saddam Hussein gassed his own people… Arab media never reported it."
And in case anyone does notice the rot of Islam, leaving the religion as an apostate is punishable by death.
Furthermore, sharia law is a perfect fit with the totalitarian state. Islam seeks to control life down to the most infinitesimal details. (See Foreign Policy's List of Stupidest Fatwas for a taste of Islam's picky rule-making on everything.)
Darwish warned that Saudi money allows Muslims to use college campuses "to intimidate and spread hate." There are programs of Islamic studies in every university in America, but no parallel offerings in Arab countries.
She noted the constant demands of Islamists for extraordinary treatment which often go beyond what is normal in their home societies. For example, special ritual footbaths are now being built for Muslim students on US campuses. But in Egypt this unique plumbing is only built in mosques. "The deception is phenomenal," she declared.
At the end of her talk, Darwish took a few questions from the audience via index cards. But that form of communication was insufficiently freeform for the leftists not yet ejected. The roar of disruption quickly grew.
Still, I believe I heard her answer my question at the last, "Shouldn't America at least end immigration from terror-supporting countries?" by saying "Yes, we have to stop bringing in shady characters."
I would have preferred to hear Nonie Darwish speak in a less threatening environment, where she could talk and the audience could listen.
Even more alarming than the crazy ideas (not new on campus) was the level of bug-eyed hysteria. Many of the troublemakers were in such a state of agitated delirium that they appeared incapable of applying reason to ideas. Instead, they felt a compulsion to shriek insults at a middle-aged woman who, unlike them, has actually lived in an oppressive society. The deranged heckler chorus looked like they needed cult deprogramming.
Sadly, truly free speech exists today on the Berkeley campus only for Stalinist ideology.
Brenda Walker (email her) lives in Northern California and publishes two websites, LimitsToGrowth.org and ImmigrationsHumanCost.org. She fantasizes about having aerosol valium when surrounded by hysterical crazies in public places