At Pennsylvania State University, a serious case of politically correct suppression of free speech emerges. According to an Article by Jessica Remitz in the PSU’s Digital Collegian, the University has decided to cancel an exhibit by Joshua Stulman on terrorism because the exhibit:
“did not promote cultural diversity” or “opportunities for democratic dialogue”
Such logic, despite Stulman’s claim not to understand, is fairly clear.
Cultural Diversity — By criticizing Palestinian terrorism, Stulman showed his cultural imperialism, since by more diverse cultural standards, one could call these folks “freedom fighters,” or, with a bit less cognitive egocentrism, “martyrs for Jihad.” Who are we to impose our cultural uniformity on these people, and their countless supporters in Palestinian and Arab culture? (Answer, for those who might be confused here… we shouldn’t.) Such an exhibit, by criticizing Palestinians for siding with suicide terrorists, was implicitly if not explicitly aggressive and negated their culture.
Opportunities for democratic dialogue — here we slip over into the realm of Newspeak. The phrase means one cannot hope to dialogue with Muslims if one puts them on the defensive. To promote democratic (presumably understood as inclusive) dialogue one needs to be more open and less critical.
The professor from the Department of Visual Arts who cancelled the exhibit explained that Stulman’s controversial images did not mesh with the university’s educational mission:
The decision to cancel the exhibit came after reviewing Penn State’s Policy AD42: Statement on Nondiscrimination and Harassment and Penn State’s Zero Tolerance Policy for Hate, he wrote.
In other words, for those still too thick to understand, to promote outrage and rejection of Arab Muslim practices (like suicide terrorism!) is actually a form of hate-speech because it encourages people to dislike this culture.
Sensing this implied concern about hate-speech, Stulman commented:
“It’s not about hate. I don’t hate Muslims. This is not about Islam,” Stulman said. “This is about terrorism impacting the Palestinian way of life and Israel way of life.”
This reminds me of when David Cook first submitted his manuscript on Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic Literature for publication, two of the three readers recommended against publication since the book constituted “hate speech.”
Now it’s not that the book is not about hate speech. Indeed, Cook remarked that every day he worked on this literature he felt like he needed to take a bath to wash off the relentless hatred that he encountered on every page. What they really meant was that the book chronicled such vicious hate speech on the part of Muslim thinkers that readers would be strongly influenced towards a dislike of Muslims — and certainly the kinds who join organizations like Hamas, Hizbullah, al Quaeda and Islamic Jihad.
Thus to preserve “cultural diversity” and to prevent the reading public from experiencing such negative feelings, these enlightened scholars, much like the administrators at PSU, feel that they should protect us and the potential objects of our disapproval. In so doing they make a category error. To denounce as hate speech that which reveals the presence of hate speech is like arresting the fireman and letting the pyromaniac escape.
This is also, as one of my students suggested to me last week, a form of left-wing fascism, a manipulation of the public that arrogates to itself the right to make up our own minds for us on what we should be exposed to and what we should feel. And it certainly reflects the kinds of problems that plague the MSM right now in their decisions on what we should see, and how to frame it. As one media mogul put it during the Frantifada last November:
“Politics in France is heading to the right and I don’t want rightwing politicians back in second, or even first place because we showed burning cars on television,” says M. Dassier, owner of France1 TV.”
But, you might ask, this is the exact opposite of decisions made to allow certain forms of hate speech to flourish, as in the case of the Swedes and the imam of Stockholm. Isn’t that the opposite effect? And if so, why does it so often seem that the voice being strangled for the sake of keeping hate speech down is the voice pointing out the existence of the hate speech?
The article gives us a clue.
Stulman said advertisements for the event were defaced in the Patterson and School of Visual Arts buildings, one of which had a large swastika on it.
Stulman, who is Jewish, said he felt threatened and abused by the Nazi symbol and is concerned for his artwork and his personal well-being.
How much of this sudden and mysterious change of heart of the administration comes from aggressive Muslims students, angry at the negative exposure this exhibit might give to causes they hold dear to heart, invoking the “zero-tolerance for hate speech” clause even as they threaten violence if they don’t get their way?
And how much of the appeal to the law reflects a strategy of invoking laws they have contempt for (no sign here of denouncing hate speech among the suicide terrorists), thus creating a climate in which they can continue to spread their hate unopposed?
And how much of the reaction of Professor Garoian represents a real (if quite foolish) moral confusion and how much just plain cowardice?
Another article, presumably by someone who’s not a close friend of Stulman’s, in the CentreDaily finally gives us an idea of what the Nazi symbolism is:
In one of Stulman’s paintings, an Arab-looking man is extending his right arm in a Nazi salute. On his headgear is written type in Arabic, translated as “I am a murderer.” The colors of the painting match the colors of the Palestinian flag: red, black, white and green.
It is meant to shock and challenge, but it is not an anti-Muslim statement, Stulman said. The painting is to show “the appropriation of Nazi symbols and its use in Hamas and other terrorist organizations,” he said.
“This is a terrorist, and I think anyone who sees this painting will see a terrorist,” he said.
I still don’t know what’s going on here. But I do know, for example, that Mein Kampf is a hot item in both the Arab World and in Palestinian circles from before 2000; that in our Pallywood movie there’s a sequence near the beginning where the Palestinians unfurl a Nazi flag, and it’s hard to imagine that they’re doing this to say “The Israelis are Nazis”; that one of the members of the Hamas party team, known affectionately as “Hitler,” won by a landslide in the most recent elections.
Acccording to the description, moreover, there’s nothing specifically about Islam in this particular piece. The symbols are Nazi and Palestinian. Those worried about a claim that Islam is developing Nazi-like traits actually reveal their own unconscious fear of precisely that, a response similar to the outrage over the Danish cartoon depicting Muhammad with a bomb in his turban. Scream about the stuff that’s most accurate because it hurts the most.
I could go on and on. I am personally not inclined to play the Nazi card, but I will not have people pretend that somehow it’s as shocking to have the Israelis call the Palestinians Nazis, as vice-versa. That’s the worst kind of moral-relativist even-handedness. It’s the kind of sloppy thinking that has us in such bad shape.