Do university administrators really support ISIS?9:29 AM, Mar 31, 2015 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
It was a story perfectly designed for the new journalism model of “outrage clicks.”
“Cornell Assistant Dean: Why Yes ISIS Is Welcome on Campus,” blared Townhall. "Cornell Dean Says ISIS welcome on campus in undercover video,” screamed the New York Post – with an uncharacteristic lack of wit or brio.
The subject of the articles was a new video put out by professional provocateur James O’Keefe. In it, an activist posing as a prospective student queries Cornell Assistant Dean Joseph Scaffido about a club he would like to start should he end up attending the school.
A few days later, O'Keefe struck again. On Monday, his organization released a new video, this one filmed at Barry University in Miami. Again, this video was billed as revealing college administrators to be A-OK with ISIS. "Barry University officials approve club raising money for ISIS in video," read one representative headline.
Except, there are several problems with the videos. For one, in the Cornell video, the supposed prospective student never even uses the term “ISIS.” He says instead that he is interested in “starting a humanitarian group that supports distressed communities in . . .northern Iraq and Syria.” This is, frankly, a laudable mission.
“I think it would be important for especially those people in the Islamic State [of] Iraq and Syria,” he continues, “the families, and the freedom fighters in particular . . . I think it would be important to send them care packages whether it be food, water, electronics.” It takes a tortured reading here to see this as a pro-ISIS sentiment. To any right-thinking person, the “freedom fighters” would be those fighting against ISIS. O’Keefe’s actor never suggests otherwise. Later, the provocateur suggests bringing a “freedom fighter” to campus, and Dean Scaffido appears open to the idea. Again, though, because it’s never made clear that the “freedom fighter” is supposed to be an ISIS terrorist, the Dean hasn’t done much wrong. Would O’Keefe object to a campus hosting a member of the Peshmerga?
The Barry University video is similarly flawed. The undercover operative -- in this case, an actual Barry University student -- is very vague about her aims. She says she wants to start a "humanitarian" club. "I want to start fundraising efforts on campus, and what I want to do is raise funds overseas," she continues. Employing the (yes, flawed) logic of State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, she states she wants to send money to Iraq and Syria in order to "create jobs" and therefore "reduce terrorism." Let that sink in: She explicitly says she hopes to reduce terrorism.
Even the most ostensibly damning part of the video -- when she actually uses the term ISIS -- is not as alarming as you may think.
"We want to send aid to ISIS," the young woman says. Then -- after a mysterious edit -- the operative doesn't quite follow through. Rather than say she wants to send ISIS arms, she instead says she wants to send "papers and pens, and support the women and the children." She says she wants to do that, because if she does, "they wouldn't be commiting these acts." Again, attibuting terrorism to a lack of paper and pens is the kind of dubious logic that only Marie Harf could espouse. But it should be needless to say that if your aim is to reduce terrorism . . . you are not pro-terrorism.
So the videos are shoddy. But there’s a deeper problem here. Conservatives spend a lot of time – rightly – condemning campus speech codes, and the calling attention to the ever-narrowing parameters of what is seen as acceptable speech at our nation’s schools. This is important and worthy work.
At one point in Cornell video, Dean Scaffido says, “The university is not going to look at different groups and say you’re not allowed to support that because we don’t believe in them or something like that.” In the Barry video, university bureaucrat Derek Bley says, "We're not here to limit people and their clubs."
Words to live by. Rather than jeer Dean Scaffido and Mr. Bley, conservatives should be cheering them.
Mar 30, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 28 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
If you harbor any doubts that “conservative” is an all-purpose epithet in the press, then Simon Denyer, the Washington Post’s China bureau chief, will happily erase those doubts. Writing last week about threats to freedom of speech and scholarly inquiry in the former British colony of Hong Kong (“In Hong Kong, fears of Chinese restrictions on academic freedom grow,” March 15), he made it clear where the problem lies: It’s the People’s Republic of China “and its conserv-ative backers in Hong Kong” who want to censor speech and shut down academic freedom.
What good have Holocaust-denial bans done? Jan 26, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 19 • By SAM SCHULMAN
France’s momentary appearance on the world stage as a champion of free expression, after the execution of the beloved Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, made for a break in her relentless culture of repression of free speech, which she shares with most of Europe.
The long arm of al Qaeda. Jan 19, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 18 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
The jihadists responsible for the most successful terrorist attack in France in decades hunted down cartoonists. They did not target a significant historical landmark, such as the Eiffel Tower, or any well-known French politicians. They did not seek to maximize civilian casualties in a suicide bombing, a trademark of previous attacks. Instead, they methodically killed Stéphane Charbonnier, the editorial director of Charlie Hebdo, and other members of the French magazine’s staff. This was deliberate.
Jan 19, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 18 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
After the recent massacre by Islamic terrorists at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, people around the world took to social media to declare “Je suis Charlie,” or “I am Charlie.” Solidarity is a nice sentiment, and journalists in particular are fond of uttering self-soothing words about their commitment to free speech at times like this. But “Je suis Charlie” is just another lie that the media tell themselves.
2:10 PM, Jan 7, 2015 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
In the wake of today's massacre in Paris, there has already been a lot of preening about journalistic bravery. Much of it has come from people who, it can be shown, don't have the guts to work in Charlie Hebdo's newsroom. Preening about free speech may be reassuring at times like this, but what we need are apologies from those who haven't done enough to defend free speech, as well as a real desire to hold those journalists and politicians who have undermined free speech accountable. As a smart academic on Twitter put it, "Today, as journalists 'bravely' voice support for Charlie Hebdo, ask them for their piece calling on Yale to publish the Muhammad cartoons."
11:33 AM, Sep 30, 2014 • By CLAUDIA ANDERSON
The Factual Feminist warns that a “little army of junior assistant deans and harassment apparatchiks are quietly repealing the free speech protections of the First Amendment.”
Jun 30, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 40 • By TERRY EASTLAND
The other day a unanimous Supreme Court ruled that a First Amendment challenge to an Ohio law should be heard in the lower courts. While the decision may have seemed a minor one, it represents an important advance for freedom of speech.
The question that the Court answered in the affirmative, with Justice Clarence Thomas writing, was whether Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life advocacy organization, has standing to challenge an Ohio statute that prohibits false statements made during a political campaign.
7:07 AM, Jun 12, 2014 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Last week, George Will wrote a column about how progressive politics have fomented "rape culture" on college campuses. The column was not well received by some, or even, as a great many of the histrionic responses would indicate, well understood.
Jun 2, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 36 • By TERRY EASTLAND
Looking for issues to push in this year’s congressional elections, Senate Democrats are proposing a constitutional amendment that would enable government at the federal and state levels alike to heavily regulate campaign contributions and expenditures. The effort is driven by the Democrats’ intense disagreement with Supreme Court decisions on campaign finance. The amendment likely will fail, as it certainly should. As in so many areas of governance these days, liberty—here the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment—is at stake.
May 26, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 35 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Last week in these pages (“Unfree Speech”), editorializing on the shamefully canceled commencement addresses of Condoleezza Rice and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Philip Terzian noted, “Both are identifiably conservative, and therefore, so far as the left is concerned, persona non grata. . . . But as it broadens and proliferates, as this culture of bigotry takes root and wields power, such campus intolerance will become a problem for the left as well.”
Hosted by Michael Graham.3:10 PM, May 15, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD Podcast with literary editor Philip Terzian on his recent editorial "Unfree Speech" and the on campus assault on free speech.
5:38 PM, Jan 21, 2014 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Yesterday, THE WEEKLY STANDARD reported on the New York City human rights commission's dubious case against seven business owners in the Hasidic community Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The commission alleged that these Jewish stores were guilty of religious and sexual discrimination for posting dress code signs requiring "No Shorts, No Barefoot, No Sleeveless, No Low Cut Neckline," and the stores were facing $75,000 in potential fines. The commission had already been slapped down last year by an administrative judge for alleging that the posted dress code was an attempt by the Orthodox Jewish business owners to impose their religion on others—after all, no one disputes that similar dress codes in courtrooms and other private establishments are acceptable.
Oct 7, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 05 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
Ted Cruz has sparked a Republican civil war. He has done the bidding of the GOP fringe, in a self-aggrandizing crusade. And while he has enhanced his own position in the conservative fantasyland he seeks to rule, the practical effect of his quixotic campaign to defund Obamacare has been to elevate the president and jeopardize the 2014 elections for his own party.