Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Open inquiry

I am becoming more and more concerned with the collapse of open inquiry in society today.

Douglas Murray writes in the Times about a conference in Holland on Islam in Europe held in memory of Lijst Pim Fortuyn who was assassinated by by Islamic fundamentalists four years ago. Security for the event was one level below "national emergency" and there were apparently real fears about the safety of the participants. This for a group of scholars getting together and talking about an issue that will define Europe over the next century.

Similarly, in the United States, only a few newspapers have been willing to publish the Danish cartoons that have caused such an uproar in Europe and the Middle East. Of course that uproar happened months after the initial publications of the cartoons as a result of a deliberate campaign by a radical Mullah who included supplementary materials to his presentations in the Middle East in order to create such a reaction. Even scholars and university faculty have been blocked from using the images in public discussions of the events for fear of offending someone. It is interesting how the academic intelligensia is perfecting willing to offend Christians and Jews, but for some reason radical Wahhabists are to sensative to accept the realities of free speech.

The Western left despises all religious fundamentalists who oppose abortion, women's rights and gay rights expect for the Muslim ones. An interesting position.

Changing the theme slightly, Lawrence Summers resigned as President of Harvard in effect for asking a question. How can Harvard's faculty claim to support the notion of intellectual or academic freedom when simply asking questions is forbidden. A true intellectual would enter into a debate on the topic and if they disagree produce evidence and scholarship in support of their position. An ideolouge would attack anyone asking question which might challenge their orthodoxy and instead of engaging in a debate of ideas would attempt to prevent such a notion from even being expressed. Harvard's faculty have shown which category they fall in to their everlasting shame.


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