Ed Driscoll

Allah And Man At Yale: The Superstitions of Academic "Freedom"

In 1951, William F. Buckley made his early rep, and fired the first salvo of modern conservatism, when he accused his alma mater of abandoning the precepts of traditional religion in favor of atheism.

It took them almost 60 years, but as this New York Times article illustrates, Yale finally finds a religion it’s willing to bend over backwards to respect:

mo-toon-9-09Yale University and Yale University Press consulted two dozen authorities, including diplomats and experts on Islam and counterterrorism, and the recommendation was unanimous: The book, “The Cartoons That Shook the World,” should not include the 12 Danish drawings that originally appeared in September 2005. What’s more, they suggested that the Yale press also refrain from publishing any other illustrations of the prophet that were to be included, specifically, a drawing for a children’s book; an Ottoman print; and a sketch by the 19th-century artist Gustave Doré of Muhammad being tormented in Hell, an episode from Dante’s “Inferno” that has been depicted by Botticelli, Blake, Rodin and Dalí…

John Donatich, the director of Yale University Press, said by telephone that the decision was difficult, but the recommendation to withdraw the images, including the historical ones of Muhammad, was “overwhelming and unanimous.” The cartoons are freely available on the Internet and can be accurately described in words, Mr. Donatich said, so reprinting them could be interpreted easily as gratuitous.

He noted that he had been involved in publishing other controversial books — like “The King Never Smiles” by Paul M. Handley, a recent unauthorized biography of Thailand’s current monarch — and “I’ve never blinked.” But, he said, “when it came between that and blood on my hands, there was no question.”

As Hot Air’s “Allahpundit” (source of the bolding in the above-quoted text) adds:

And there you have it. It’s a small mercy, at least, that they’re making no bones about what’s driving this decision; occasionally, this sort of appeasement-by-self-censorship is dressed up as high-minded progressive “cultural sensitivity.” To see just how bad things have gotten, read the entire Times piece (which, thankfully, acknowledges that the paper itself cowered in the face of terrorism by refusing to publish the cartoons when the story broke). Not only were the “expert” recommendations that Yale should suppress the images unanimous, but not a single person quoted in the story offers a full-throated defense of a university’s obligation not to sacrifice knowledge on the altar of totalitarianism. The closest we get is Reza Aslan arguing that it’s “idiotic” to omit the cartoons now that the controversy’s died down and the risk of reprisal is low. If the risk was high, presumably he’d think differently. In lieu of an exit question, let me make a recommendation: If you know a right-wing academic or public intellectual, make sure to bring this item to his or her attention. Hopefully it’ll make them think twice about doing business with Yale in the future.

And if that doesn’t, here’s a reminder of what passes for high art at the august institute of higher learning.

Meanwhile, at lesser-known schools, other religions aren’t fairing nearly so well. Maybe Ace of Spades was onto something a couple of years ago, when he pondered if America has a de facto state religion, at least in the minds of the ACLU and academia.