"In the final analysis, I believe that the university is lost."
A few days ago, I attended a small lunch for Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist whose image of Mohammed with a bomb for a turban is the most famous of the so-called "Danish cartoons" that occasioned one of those periodic paroxysms of rage, mayhem, and murder among followers of the religion of peace.
The lunch was off-the-record, so I'll just say that Mr. Westergaard, now 74, is a gentle, soft-spoken fellow with a wry sense of humor. I liked his definition of a cartoon as "an idea with a line around it." He was on his way the next day to Branford College at Yale, where he spoke before some 65 Yale students and faculty. You won't be surprised to hear that Mr. Westergaard deplored Yale's decision to censor Jytte Klausen's book The Cartoons that Shook the World by forbidding at the last moment publication of the cartoons and other artistic representations of Mohammed.
Rabbi Jon Hausman was at the event and, guess what, the "Yale community" was the opposite of welcoming.
"The crowd was hostile, Rabbi Hausman reported in an interview.
There were a number of self-described Muslims. Those who did ask questions expressed displeasure with Westergaard's work. The questions from these people were repetitive. One person described himself as a mildly Evangelical Christian who lived for a number of years in a Muslim country working. Yet, he took what I call a dhimmi view in his question -- how far can Westergaard go in his work before endangering Christians who live in Muslim countries? I found this to be the most disturbing question and attitude of all.
Asked for his overall impression of Yale, Rabbi Hausman was blunt:
Honestly, I would not send my child to any school where there is such uniformity and conformity of thought and attitude. I was disappointed at the inability of those in attendance amongst the Yale community to place responsibility for the violence that has transpired on those who manifest such responsibility. Westergaard drew, but it was the Imams from Denmark who took those cartoons one year after publication and whipped up violent frenzies, destruction of Danish Embassies in the Muslim world, threats to the physical safety of Danish personnel, violence against indigenous Christian populations. Every questioner seemed to want to misplace blame.
Further, it is clear that the university suffers from the malaise of relativist truth and the multicultural ethic. There are no universal truths any longer. When I was in college, it seemed that the point of education at the university level was to use the subject matter under study to encourage independent, critical thinking. Today, all truths are equal. I abjure this notion.
In the final analysis, I believe that the university is lost.
That sums it up neatly, doesn't it?