Yale University’s William F. Buckley, Jr. Program has invited Somali-born American activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali to speak on campus Monday night, and the decision has stirred anger on the prestigious Ivy League campus.
Yale’s chaplain, Sharon Kugler, is among the critics of the visit.
In a statement provided to Inside Higher Ed, Kugler lashed out at Hirsi Ali, calling her a “hateful” and “disparaging” person.
“We understand and affirm Yale’s commitment to free expression within an educational context,” Kugler said in the statement. “We are deeply concerned, however, by Ms. Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s long record of disparaging, and arguably hateful, comments about Muslims and Islam.”
Kugler wants the Buckley Program to allow speeches by critics of Hirsi Ali, one of the planet’s greatest and bravest campaigners for women’s rights and a very vocal critic of Islam.
“To better represent the whole Yale community and its educational goals, we recommend the organizers consider actions to expand the event, such as allowing concerned students to present their perspectives, or adding a scholarly voice to create a more nuanced conversation,” the chaplain urged.
Kugler does not appear to have objected when noted kiteboarding enthusiast John Kerry spoke at Yale, or when noted adulterer Bill Clinton spoke at Yale, or when television journalist Barbara Walters, who tried to help a former aide to Syrian President Bashar Assad find employment in the United States, spoke at the school.
The prestigious Ivy League bastion’s Muslim Student Association has also bitterly complained about Ali’s impending speech. In a letter signed by representatives from 35 other groups, the Muslim Student Association said it feels “highly disrespected” and similarly demanded that the Buckley Program allow people who disagree with Hirsi Ali to speak, according to Inside Higher Ed.
A Muslim Student Association board member also charged that Hirsi Ali’s remarks will not be protected speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
“The difference here is that it’s hate speech, [which] under the law would be classified as libel or slander and is not protected by the First Amendment,” the board member, Abrar Omeish, told the Yale Daily News. “That’s what we’re trying to condemn here.”