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The Fern Sidman Commentaries:

October 26th, 2007: "AND THEN THERE WERE THREE..."

The voices of truth can never be diminished or drowned out, be it by the rain that fell in New York City or by the zealousness of truth's adversaries. On Wednesday evening, October 24th, the electricity in the air was palpable on the campus of Columbia University. In a packed classroom in the mathematics building, a panel discussion was held as part of an ongoing series of lectures in a weeklong event being held on over 100 university and college campuses. This nationwide event is entitled Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week and is the brainchild of the David Horowitz Freedom Center.


David Horowitz is a former left-wing academic whose politics have now taken a giant step to the right. As one of the founders of the New Left in the 1960s, he was also the editor of its most influential magazine, Ramparts. He is the author, with Peter Collier, of a number of best-selling dynastic biographies on the Rockefellers, the Kennedys, the Fords, and the Roosevelts. With Collier he also wrote Destructive Generation (1989), a chronicle of their break with the 1960s Left, that has been compared to Whittaker Chambersí Witness and other classic works documenting a break from totalitarianism. On his web site, www.frontpagemag.com, Mr. Horowitz champions an array of causes including the defense of the principles of individual freedom as well as defending free societies in the war against their enemies, and the reestablishment of academic freedom in American schools.

Because of the controversy that swirls around an event of this nature and magnitude, threats of protests and possible disruptions were made by a number of quintessential left-wing and pro-Muslim organizations including the Revolutionary Communist Party, United for Peace and Justice, Jewish Progressives and the Muslim Student Association, among others. Several security guards, (provided by the David Horowitz Freedom Center) who looked strikingly similar to stoic FBI agents or undercover cops ushered in the panelists and stood guard around the room. While the audience was quite diverse in nature, outside the building stood a lone demonstrator, who held a sign reviling the event as racist. Inside, the story was a bit different. A contingent from the Revolutionary Communist Party along with left wing representatives of the Women's Studies and Middle Eastern Studies departments got their printing presses rolling at top speed, churning out libelous propaganda aimed at discrediting the objectives of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week and took aim at the panelists, namely Phyllis Chesler. They even resorted to passing out a sheet of pre-prepared questions for audience members to ask that reeked of bellicosity, and surely did not promote open mindedness. So much for academic freedom and freedom of speech.

The student representative who helped organize this event asked the audience to curtail their predilection to disrupt the speakers and announced the rules for the Q & A, which followed.

Judging by the persons impaneled for the event at Columbia University, it would appear that Mr. Horowitz is not the only one whose political voice has made some major modifications. Dr. Phyllis Chesler, an Emerita Professor of Psychology at the College of Staten Island was a prominent voice and vanguard of the Second Wave feminist movement and a former political progressive. When she began to challenge the feminist and left-wing camps for propounding a "multi-cultural relativism" which essentially exonerates the Muslim world for its pervasive and barbaric abuse of women, she was labeled as a "dangerous traitor" by her former colleagues and relegated to a persona non-grata status. Her groundbreaking views on Islamic gender and religious apartheid have caused near riots on the many campuses that she has lectured at. She is a self-described "culture warrior" and is passionately committed to exposing the "Big Lies" of the left leaning, liberal Western academy. She is the author hundreds of articles and of 13 books, including, "The New Anti-Semitism - The Current Crisis and What We Must Do About It", (2003) which graphically illustrates the anti-Semitic agenda of intellectuals on the left, under the guise of anti-Zionism.

Ibn Warraq is a best-selling author, ex-Muslim intellectual, a dogmatic secularist, scholar and founder of the Institute for the Secularization of Islamic Society and a senior research fellow at the Center for Inquiry, specializing in Koranic criticism. Warraq gathered world notice through his controversial historiographies of the early centuries of the Islamic timeline and has published works which tend to challenge traditional conceptions of the period. He is the author of seven books, including Why I Am Not a Muslim (1995), The Origins of the Koran (1998),Quest for the Historical Muhammad, (2000), What the Koran Really Says (2002),Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out(2003), the just released - Defending the West: a Critique of Edward Said's Orientalism (2006) and Which Koran? (2007). He has also spoken at the "Victims of Jihad" conference at the United Nations that was organized by the International Humanist and Ethical Union alongside speakers such as Bat Ye'or, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Simon Deng. The name "Ibn Warraq" is a pseudonym, to protect the true identity of a man who is "most wanted" in Muslim circles. Having been highly critical of Islam he is now considered an apostate, a marked man for his "heretical" views and for "betraying" the faith he was born into. His detractors claim he engages in anti-Islamic polemics while others such as atheist author Richard Dawkins describe him as a "deeply knowledgeable scholar of Islam."

Christina Hoff-Sommers is a former professor of philosophy and ethics at Clark University in Worcester, MA and a resident scholar at a conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI). She is an author of several books including her seminal work, Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women (1994), and The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men (2001). In her books and articles, Hoff-Sommers applies Paulo Freire's principle of transition to supremacy movements in successful political struggles to the mainstream feminist movement. She speaks of the distinction between equity feminism and gender feminism, the latter being the action of accenting the differences of genders for the purposes of creating privilege for women in academia, government, industry, or advancing personal agendas. She suggests that feminist leaders are not only placing their political goals above academic honesty, but they are also indoctrinating impressionable university students not with grounded science, but rather with disingenuous, emotionally-charged pseudo information. Like her co-panelist, Phyllis Chesler, Hoff-Sommers accuses the Western feminist movement of losing its moral clarity and of abandoning the cause of spotlighting and protesting against the horrific abuse of women in the Muslim world.

The evening began with Ibn Warraq offering an absolutely brilliant refutation of the late Columbia University English and Comparative Literature professor, Edward Said's 1978 book entitled "Orientalism", which marked the beginnings of postcolonial studies. According to the impeccable scholarly research done by Warraq, he asserts that the roots of late 20th century Islamo-Fascism began with Said's premise that "all of the woes of the Arabs in the Islamic world can be blamed on America and Israel". He points to the intellectual dishonesty of Said's claims that all Europeans are racists, thereby creating "a western style for dominating the Orient." He also reminds us that there are gross historic inaccuracies in Said's manifesto and that Said was not a Muslim and was not a scholar of Islamic though, yet did everything in his power to foster the spread of Islamic fundamentalism. Warraq tells us that through his writings, Said created a climate in which self-pity infected the vast precincts of the Islamic world, in which the West also appeared as the colonialist aggressor while the East remained the passive victim.

Dr. Phyllis Chesler, despite an injury to her leg, literally rose to the occasion and delivered her stirring remarks with the aplomb of a veteran academic and professor. She addressed a number of important issues including the growing concern in the Western world of the rampant spread of Islamo-Fascism which threatens to bring with it to our shores its own inimitable version of gender and racial apartheid. That translates into forced veilings of women, honor killings, female genital mutilation, stonings, wife-beating, forced marriages and purdah, not to mention executions of women, intellectuals, dissidents, homosexuals and other infidels.

She took issue with her former feminist colleagues when she said, "Western feminists and academics must end their unnatural obsession with the so-called "occupation" of Palestine and focus of the occupation of women's bodies throughout the Muslim world. If they care about women, they must confront the issues that characterize Islamic gender apartheid and affect at least half a billion women in the Islamic world." She also attempted to debunk the myth that former colonialist powers and imperialist forces were to blame for Islamic barbarism. Said Dr. Chesler, "The Christian Crusades did not "cause" Arab or Muslim slavery, racism, polygamy, arranged child marriage, female genital mutilation, honor murders, forced face-veiling, capital punishment for apostates (Muslims who leave Islam), or the segregation of women. It did not cause Islamic jihad or Islamic imperialism which preceded the Crusades by centuries." She also put forth the notion of a "new McCarthyism" being spearheaded by the left that imposes fear on academics who dare speak about Muslim on Muslim violence by pigeon-holing them as "racists" and "colonialists".

The last speaker of the evening was Christina Hoff-Sommers who also addressed the issue of Islamic misogyny and said that Osama bin Laden's worst nightmare would be the liberation of Islamic women. According to Hoff-Sommers the Islamic revolution set women back for at least a century, outlining the subjugation of Iranian women under a hideous male hegemony. She spoke of a book entitled, "The Girls of Riyadh" which was described as "chic literature", an Eastern version of "Sex In The City", which caused Imams in Saudi Arabia to whip men into a violent frenzy against women. She called this, "a compelling indictment of Islamic incitement." She praised heroic dissidents who are on a civilizing mission in Islamic countries, attempting to battle the forces of misogyny and patriarchal oppression of women. Hoff-Sommers posits that Islamic women are following the example of conservative women's rights activists such as Frances Willard, the second president of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and are embracing a creative interpretation of the Koran. She chided the major Western feminist movements and women's studies departments on college campuses for focusing on such issues as the shape of women's bodies, sexual repression and the philosophy of the "Vagina Monologues", rather than championing the cause of basic human rights for women in the Islamic world.

Roberts Rules of Order seemed to prevail during the question and answer segment of the program, as the audience was again advised to keep to the question only format and not engage in diatribes or lengthy speeches. Most of the questions focused on American military involvement in Iraq and several questioners (mostly from the Revolutionary Communist Party) intimated that this event was just a clever subterfuge for promoting the Bush administration's "war on terror" strategy, which seeks to create a groundswell of support for the war in Iraq. The questioners made little reference to the obvious threat of Islamo-Fascism that was so eloquently spoken about by the panelists, but rather they focused on their own anti-American agenda as they questioned the perceived hypocrisy of the Iraqi constitution that enshrined Islam as the state religion. The panelists remained nonplussed during the Q & A and answered the questions with alacrity, armed with a voluminous amount of facts and a plethora of knowledge. The adversaries of truth and the purveyors of the Big Lies were outdone by the valiant truth tellers and protectors of the future of western civilization as we know it.

While history may or may not record this event at Columbia University, our kudos and accolades go to Ibn Warraq, Phyllis Chesler and Christina Hoff-Sommers for summoning the moral strength and courage to bear the slings and arrows of the totalitarian left, for exercising their right of freedom of speech in the name of truth and for their shining collective consciences. May they continue to lead us to a more peaceful, secure world, unfettered by fascism of any kind.

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