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Letter: An apology to Muslim women's advocate

In this Monday, Feb. 5, 2007 photo, Ayaan

In this Monday, Feb. 5, 2007 photo, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, writer of the film "Submission," which criticized the treatment of women in traditional Islam and led to the murder of Dutch film director Theo Van Gogh, talks to a reporter in New York. Brandeis University in Massachusetts is taking heat from some of its own about plans to give an honorary degree to Ali, who has made comments critical of Islam. Credit: AP

Brandeis University might have shamed women's activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but not more than it shamed itself ["Islam critic: Brandeis shamed her," News, April 10].

In academia, where every form of what I would call hate speech is permitted, and indeed encouraged in the name of academic freedom, this school withdraws an honor promised to an eminent champion of human rights because, the story says, of "complaints from some students, faculty members and others, including an online petition."

Not only did Brandeis apparently fail to vet Ali's candidacy before extending the invitation, but it didn't dig deeply enough to uncover whether the petitioners' complaints were justified. Taking a few of Ali's statements out of context is unconscionable, especially without having discussed them with her.

I do not know Ali, but because Brandeis surely won't apologize, permit me to do so. I don't want her to think that all the rest of us are so cowed.

Bernard Kram, Plainview