Thursday, March 02, 2006

I Slam, You Slam, We All Slam for Islam...

Someone tell me, puh-leeze, why more isn't being made of this. James Kirchick, a regular contributor to the Independent Gay Forum, has a piece in the Yale Daily News about that Ivy League institution's latest great catch of a student: Rahmatullah Hashemi (thanks to Stephen H. Miller of the IGF for this link). Catch it at

Mr. Hashemi has been a sort of P.R. man for the Taliban, or, as he was called, a "roving ambassador," spreading Islamist goodwill far and wide with their blessing. Don't you know, Yale considers itself glad to have him. Its bigwigs are positively salivating with glee. But their new star student has not indicated any real change in viewpoint since his Taliban days. And, as both Kirchick and Miller make clear, there is nothing on the matter from any of the feminist, gay or generally leftist groups on campus but deafening silence.

What the bleep is the matter with these people? And why, when someone like Mr. Miller posts an item bringing this to the attention of a largely-gay readership, do he and those who echo his sentiments get so much flack for it?

In fairness, the commenters on his post seem indignant not that Hashemi is accepted on campus with hosannas and palm branches, but that no distinction is being drawn, by those who call attention to this, between themselves (the "good" liberals, I suppose) and those on the Left who are responsible for the hosannas or the silence. Even though these supposedly "good" liberals have been as silent as all too many of the "bad" ones.

Well, 'scuse me, but America, we do have a problem. Our guardians of fairness and compassion have finally reached the point at which their mishmash of a philosophy -- patched together almost totally out of a visceral reaction against Right-Wing overemotionalism -- has imploded. It is a victim of its own incoherence. Not only are the lunatics running the asylum, but they have blown it up.

I still believe in fairness and compassion. But these virtues are simply not compatible with any philosophy so hostile to them that it considers itself hell-bent on destroying them. Early liberalism (of the Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy years) had a lot going for it, even though it wasn't perfect way back then. But it has since loaded some burdens onto itself that are so incompatible with certain of the other principles it holds dear that the whole works are falling apart.

Were liberals serious about saving their movement, they would stop looking at people who warn them of this as if they'd just farted in church. Digesting unpleasant realities, and making constructive sense out of them, are skills they would do well to learn. Long before the days of No Child Left Behind, these used to be taught in kindergarten.

This is one of the main reasons I have moved to the libertarian view of liberalism -- classical liberalism, if you will -- and no longer consider myself what passes so pathetically for a liberal today. When Jerry Falwell or Trent Lott say stupid things about women or gays, I'm not only allowed to be righteously outraged, but SUPPOSED to feel that way. And to make as much noise about it as possible. But when the likes of Rahmatullah Hashemi sound off with their stone-age notions about women or gays, I'm expected to sit there silently at their feet, worshipfully soaking it all up. As ridiculous and erroneous as the Jerry Falwells and the Trent Lotts are, they are not calling for my imprisonment, torture or execution.

The truth, for liberty-loving women and for gays, is depressing and downright frightening. We don't have any political allies who will fight for our rights no matter what -- AND tell us exactly what we want to hear, a hundred percent of the time, without ever, ever insulting a one of us. Which is not to say that we don't have allies. The Libertarian Party, and the "small-l" libertarian movement, are the only true allies we've got -- not to mention the best that we could possibly hope to have, under the circumstances. But in order to enjoy alliance with these true friends, we must first give up the notion they will never offend us.

There are a fair number of homophobic libertarians, and I've heard a few of them say pretty stupid things -- both about women and about gays. But none would call for my death, or support legislation to have me hauled off to jail. Ladies and gentlemen, kindergarten is over. We need to learn to live in an imperfect world. It's the only one we've got.

Should Mr. Hashemi have been admitted to Yale? That is not my call to make. But is it too much to ask that the ideas he expresses be subject to the same sort of rigorous scrutiny that would be applied to a College Republican? I hardly think that here in our "free" society, this would be too much to expect.

Maybe we will all learn that Islam IS hostile to freedom, after all. The price you pay, when you determine to commit yourself to the protection of truly free speech, is that you can't duck down a side road once you recognize where the pursuit of truth is taking you.


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