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It’s Not New at Brandeis; ‘Repressive Tolerance’ was Born There

April 10th, 2014 - 6:40 pm

Shutting down a speaker, or a professor, or a book with which you strongly disagree is nothing new. Indeed, if there’s anything really new about Brandeis’ disinvitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, it’s that they invited her at all, no matter how briefly.  I was amazed and (briefly) encouraged.  Could it be, I wondered, that Brandeis, of all universities, was offering an honorary degree to someone so totally out of step with multiculturalism?  So I tip my hat to those who pulled it off, it took real intellectual courage.  You can be sure that they’re in plenty of pain these days.  They are stuck in Waltham, while Ayaan is comfy down the road in Cambridge, surrounded by security guards ever attentive to the possibility that some day some one will attempt to carry out one of the many death threats she receives.

Of course they were rolled, and if the other honorees had any real integrity, they’d cancel.  If the school’s donors took freedom seriously, they’d cancel their contributions.  But the key to understanding Brandeis is that it has been this way for half a century.  Banning Ayaan is indeed the fulfillment of a famous call to censorship by one of the most famous leftist philosophers of the last century:  Herbert Marcuse, a Brandeis professor who in 1965 published a vigorous defense of ideological repression called “Repressive Tolerance.”  Here’s how he sums up the thrust of his essay:

The conclusion reached is that the realization of the objective of tolerance would call for intolerance toward prevailing policies, attitudes, opinions, and the extension of tolerance to policies, attitudes, and opinions which are outlawed or suppressed. In other words, today tolerance appears again as what it was in its origins, at the beginning of the modern period–a partisan goal, a subversive liberating notion and practice. Conversely, what is proclaimed and practiced as tolerance today, is in many of its most effective manifestations serving the cause of oppression.

Marcuse didn’t like American liberal bourgeois society, and he was infuriated by its popularity, which he blamed on a combination of bad education and powerful media (advertisements particularly alarmed him).  What to do?  He despaired of convincing a majority of Americans that we needed a communist revolution, so he called for censorship.  Just ban the ideas on which the country rested.

He neatly anticipated the anti-free speech campaign now waged against those who challenge the current orthodoxy, whether in science, politics, or entertainment.  If you can’t beat them, silence them:

The toleration of free discussion and the equal right of opposites was to define and clarify the different forms of dissent: their direction, content, prospect. But with the concentration of economic and political power and the integration of opposites in a society which uses technology as an instrument of domination, effective dissent is blocked where it could freely emerge; in the formation of opinion, in information and communication, in speech and assembly.

Ergo, in order to get “really free” thought, you must destroy free speech:  “the restoration of freedom of thought may necessitate new and rigid restrictions on teachings and practices in the educational institutions…”

It’s a seductive mantra.  Silencing one’s opponents has long appealed to those to whom skepticism is a four-letter word, and without skepticism, toleration has no meaning.

Marcuse was one of the great culture heroes of his time, and acquired quite a substantial following “Repressive Tolerance” was dedicated to his Brandeis students, and one of the most infamous of them–the Communist leader Angela Davis–did her best to translate it into practice.

The silencing of Ayaan carries on that old Brandeis tradition, and no doubt Herbert Marcuse is celebrating it as best he can.  He must have been horrified when she was invited in the first place.

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Top Rated Comments   
This is fascinating cultural history. Political correctness defines our day - there's perhaps no more disturbing trend today than a media that is self-censoring. How is it possible that the world changes around us, in the Middle East under the sway of the Muslim Brotherhood, in Russia under the sway of unreconstructed Nazis, and all we get is fluff?
http://nyyrc.com/blog/2014/04/a-note-to-readers-and-fellow-journalists/

The Nazis called this state of affairs "the self-policing state." The Gestapo, relatively small, only had to persecute a small number of transgressors. For the rest of the Germans, it was enough to know that the Gestapo was watching and keeping tabs. This was more effective any NSA surveillance programs, because it depended on social relations between the people. Did you hear something offensive to the party and not report it? Well, you're just as guilty. Get ready for the bullwhip.

We have reached that chilling in free speech. To speak the truth today is becoming a four letter word in polite company. You can't say the president has destroyed the economy; you can't say the president and administration has armed and supported the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda (in Syria... and who knows where else); you can't say that the entire administration of Obama et al. has made us poorer, weaker, and much less safe, even despised by our enemies.

Well, you can say these things. But if the wrong people happen to hear, you just may lose your job and your reputation. Be branded a hatemonger and racist, and denied an honorary degree. If you happen to make too public an pronouncement, you may get stabbed in broad daylight, or shot, or blown up. At minimum, your friends will begin to distance themselves from you.

There is nothing shameful in speaking the truth, courteously and respectfully. To do so is the first responsibility of any true intellectual (and journalist). Being cowed by political correctness is voluntarily stepping into an early grave.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Repressive Tolerance, the oxymoronic motto also known as Leftist Free Speech Suppression has a training video out for contract bridge.

Four Feminist Gender Studies Teachers sit down to play:

Blanche, Dorothy and Sophia are tenured veterans. Rose is a novice.

Rose: I bid two diamonds.

Dorothy: You can't say diamonds, dear. It represents greedy, corporate vulture capitalists. You say Solyndras.

Rose: Ok, then I bid two clubs.

Sophia: Clubs are exclusionary and misogynist. You have to say communes instead.

Rose: Every commune I ever heard of had one guy having sex with all the girls and taking advantage of their dim bulb, no bra mentality.

Blanche: Yeah, but they're our type of guys. Then it's ok.

Rose: Forget it, I'll just bid two sp....

Dorothy, Blanche, and Sophia: NO!!!!!!

Dorothy: You never, ever, ever, say that word. It's racist. You say "cards of color".

Rose: Color? When we played poker or gin we used to say we had "color" when we had face cards, jacks, kings, queens.

Blanche: We never say queens, either. We say transgender royalty.

Dorothy: And kings and jacks are too...Crusades. Offensive to Islam. We say Daddy Dhimmi and Dhimmi dummy.

Rose: Ok, cards of color, communes, solyndras,. What do I say about these bleeding...hearts?

Sophia: Are you from Fox News?

Rose: Not YOU bleeding hearts, these...darned hearts.

Dorothy: They're called liberals. Nobody ever bids them any more.

Rose: Communes, solyndras, cards of color, and liberals. How will I ever remember what trump is?

Blanche: Racism trumps everything, silly.

Rose: What?

Sophia: No matter what is bid, no matter what cards you hold, if you want to win the hand you yell RACISM!!! at the top of your lungs.

Rose: Where in heaven's name did you learn to play this idiotic game?

Sophia, Dorothy, Blanche: Brandeis.

33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
It is virtually impossible for political correctness, muslim or otherwise, not to go complete totalitarian (Communist, Fascist, Islamic, 1984, whatever). It does not grow to a moderate level and then stop, as like cancer, that is not in it’s nature, nor in the nature of the inquisition conducting, self-appointed arbiters of proper speech and proper thought, who promote it.

In plain and clear fact, political correctness, muslim or otherwise, is an attempt to commit genocide against free speech and even free thought. Left alive, it will continue to feed on the human mind and spirit until there is nothing left but some kind of mindless and obedient serf drone ant level collective. To the human mind it is worse than the plague.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (27)
All Comments   (27)
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Thanks for posting the little reminder of Marcuse. I was required to read his stuff in graduate school, and the quotes reminded me of an annoying, if trivial, fact--that most of his writing just barely parses as English prose.

One flaw in his recommendation of adopting leftist oppression is that it rests on the conclusion that there is a set of beliefs that is known, conclusively and finally, to be correct. Therefore, using repression to enforce these beliefs is liberating, in his view. That would suppose a preexisting objective process by which such correct beliefs had been identified, but leftists of Marcuse's stripe also typically reject such objective processes, and so his viewpoint comes down to arbitrarily forcing his views on everyone else.

This more substantive point is related to the more trivial point I made at first. If one wants to put forward plans that are inherently destructive, it is probably best to formulate them in an obscure manner.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ledeen: thanks for the truly enlightening essay. I'm serious -- I didn't know Brandeis had such a long history of this nonsensical leftist pap. It makes me ashamed (just a little) as a Jew.

Really though, we should stand for far better treatment of courageous people like Ali than this. It's one thing if the potential speaker was out-and-out a racist fascist. But given the way Lefty-Jewish organizations and people like the new "open - Hillel" (sigh, sigh, and double-sigh) bend over backwards to allow "a wide variety of opinions" (including the one that say, I want you dead), one would *think*... I would *think* that a premiere Jewish institution like Brandeis would (gasp), might just "tolerate" Ms Ali.

I understand that this was no shock to you -- but I find it both shocking and depressing -- probably because I'm so out of touch with the modern Leftist zeitgeist.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Um...people? Just remember that earlier versions of "Political Correctness" could get you burned at the stake.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wouldn't that have been political incorrectness? Assuming the def of PC is "whatever the current ruling authority demands you believe."
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Good to see Herbert Marcuse's Repressive Tolerance circulating in the Conservative intellectual sphere.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
I learned something new today, for sure!
PC was deliberate, and taught.
Propagated by uni, fer gosh sakes.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
I recall the riot at Concordia "University" in 2002 -- the local storm troopers smashed windows (while video cameras filmed them) -- all because the thugs feared a speech by Netanyahu. The police shut down the event, and the hooligans got what they wanted.
How utterly depraved our "universities" have become...
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Should be no surprise....

Liberals and leftists support female genitalia mutilation, slavery, human and sex trafficking (border) and not allowing women to speak in public.

This is just another example of it. The whatever university didn't invite her to speak. They sent out an invite and yanked it back to show what they truly stand for: female genitalia mutilation.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Rule No. 1 of PC: white, First World and Western is never right, non-white, Third World and Eastern is never wrong. Actual events, actual right and wrong have little to do with PC.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
What we think of as the self-contradictory Orwellian madness that is modern political correctness is largely driven by the most radical adherents of intersectional feminism.

Here is an important article that illustrates what happened to two rather radical feminists who it turns out weren't quite radical enough when they echoed Hirsi in pointing out that the repression of women in the Third World is neither solely white, Western nor Christian.

http://jacobinism.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/racism-censorship-disunity.html?m=1

A storm of recrimination fell onto their heads that proves that when it comes to modern PC, anti-white and anti-Western trumps all other concerns, and reality has nothing to do with it. Home-grown American intersectional feminism is intolerant and so hate-focused on white Western society its grasp on reality is little different from a form of insanity.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
And because I've known so many lesbians, I guarantee all this comes from nearly all of them having been molested by mom's welfare/jailbird boyfriend in our shattered 'families'.

Then they grow up to become uni 'professors' or bureaucrats steering policy.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is fascinating cultural history. Political correctness defines our day - there's perhaps no more disturbing trend today than a media that is self-censoring. How is it possible that the world changes around us, in the Middle East under the sway of the Muslim Brotherhood, in Russia under the sway of unreconstructed Nazis, and all we get is fluff?
http://nyyrc.com/blog/2014/04/a-note-to-readers-and-fellow-journalists/

The Nazis called this state of affairs "the self-policing state." The Gestapo, relatively small, only had to persecute a small number of transgressors. For the rest of the Germans, it was enough to know that the Gestapo was watching and keeping tabs. This was more effective any NSA surveillance programs, because it depended on social relations between the people. Did you hear something offensive to the party and not report it? Well, you're just as guilty. Get ready for the bullwhip.

We have reached that chilling in free speech. To speak the truth today is becoming a four letter word in polite company. You can't say the president has destroyed the economy; you can't say the president and administration has armed and supported the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda (in Syria... and who knows where else); you can't say that the entire administration of Obama et al. has made us poorer, weaker, and much less safe, even despised by our enemies.

Well, you can say these things. But if the wrong people happen to hear, you just may lose your job and your reputation. Be branded a hatemonger and racist, and denied an honorary degree. If you happen to make too public an pronouncement, you may get stabbed in broad daylight, or shot, or blown up. At minimum, your friends will begin to distance themselves from you.

There is nothing shameful in speaking the truth, courteously and respectfully. To do so is the first responsibility of any true intellectual (and journalist). Being cowed by political correctness is voluntarily stepping into an early grave.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
OK but given all this how *did* the invitation ever get issued in the first place?
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
yeah i'd like to know more about that.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Repressive Tolerance, the oxymoronic motto also known as Leftist Free Speech Suppression has a training video out for contract bridge.

Four Feminist Gender Studies Teachers sit down to play:

Blanche, Dorothy and Sophia are tenured veterans. Rose is a novice.

Rose: I bid two diamonds.

Dorothy: You can't say diamonds, dear. It represents greedy, corporate vulture capitalists. You say Solyndras.

Rose: Ok, then I bid two clubs.

Sophia: Clubs are exclusionary and misogynist. You have to say communes instead.

Rose: Every commune I ever heard of had one guy having sex with all the girls and taking advantage of their dim bulb, no bra mentality.

Blanche: Yeah, but they're our type of guys. Then it's ok.

Rose: Forget it, I'll just bid two sp....

Dorothy, Blanche, and Sophia: NO!!!!!!

Dorothy: You never, ever, ever, say that word. It's racist. You say "cards of color".

Rose: Color? When we played poker or gin we used to say we had "color" when we had face cards, jacks, kings, queens.

Blanche: We never say queens, either. We say transgender royalty.

Dorothy: And kings and jacks are too...Crusades. Offensive to Islam. We say Daddy Dhimmi and Dhimmi dummy.

Rose: Ok, cards of color, communes, solyndras,. What do I say about these bleeding...hearts?

Sophia: Are you from Fox News?

Rose: Not YOU bleeding hearts, these...darned hearts.

Dorothy: They're called liberals. Nobody ever bids them any more.

Rose: Communes, solyndras, cards of color, and liberals. How will I ever remember what trump is?

Blanche: Racism trumps everything, silly.

Rose: What?

Sophia: No matter what is bid, no matter what cards you hold, if you want to win the hand you yell RACISM!!! at the top of your lungs.

Rose: Where in heaven's name did you learn to play this idiotic game?

Sophia, Dorothy, Blanche: Brandeis.

33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
I am so stealing this.
CF, you a dam genius.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
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