The latest battle in an ongoing war on academic freedom involves three speakers who will address cadets at the Air Force Academy today. The speakers have one trait that’s common to most who would be censored from the hallowed halls of modern academe: They are Christians.
The speakers — Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem and Zak Anani — will speak as part of the academy’s annual political forum. All profess to be “former terrorists” who’ve converted from Islam to Christianity. Their message annoys wannabe censors. . .
It remains open to debate whether the academy promotes Christianity, which it should not. Hosting Christian speakers who espouse their faith, however, is a far cry from the promotion of religion. It’s the academy facilitating free speech and discourse — the building blocks of enlightenment. Anyone is free to reject or embrace whatever the speakers say. If hosting them amounts to promoting Christianity, then hosting Cat Stevens promotes Islam. If speakers at public institutions can’t espouse religious beliefs, then the state is promoting secularism as the only appropriate belief. Anyone with a religious worldview, in that case, doesn’t have free speech. At least, not on campus.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations seems to understand this.
“The First Amendment protects even bigoted speech, but those who value mutual understanding should have an equal right to speak out and be heard,” the council said in a press release Tuesday.
The council didn’t ask the academy to silence the speakers. Instead, it asked that speakers with opposing views about Islam be invited to speak. It’s a reasonable request, made in the interest of bringing more information to the academy’s free market of rhetoric and ideas. Bring on the Muslims. (MORE)