Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Melanie Phillips at University of Redlands Video

Below is the video of Monday's event at the University of Redlands featuring British author Melanie Phillips. I videotaped it, but her talk was quite long and the battery on my camera ran out during the q and a. 

A few notes are in order. The university was less than thrilled that this event was taking place. The organizers of the event had been told by the university that several faculty and students were upset that Phillips was speaking-interesting since free speech was part of the topic to be discussed. The audience consisted of a couple of hundred people mostly from the community and mostly sympathetic to Phillips. There were about a dozen Muslims in attendance. The local Islamic Center had been alerted to the event by the university. It was also anticipated that the university might hold a pre-event discussion for faculty and students to discuss the event itself. That apparently did not play out at least at the site of the event as several people from the community were already in the hall an hour prior to the event and nothing of that nature occurred.

At any rate, prior to Phillips being introduced (by Avi Davis of the American Freedom Alliance-the sponsoring organization),  introductory remarks were given by the director of Campus Diversity and Inclusion, Leela Madhavarau. It was your standard academic lecture about the need for respectful dialogue of difficult topics. It begins the video.

It was clear that there were very few if any students in the audience. I am wondering if they were discouraged from attending. The university apparently made little or no effort to promote the event.

As you will see, a few of the Muslim attendees participated in the q and a and took exception to Phillips' characterization of Islam even thought she made it quite clear that she was not demonizing all Muslims and that Muslims had been the greatest victims of Islamic extremism. One man who spoke limited English called her a hypocrite for not mentioning the recent murders of three Muslims in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Phillips handled adeptly that by "apologizing" to the audience for not mentioning a host of world events before adding that we should withhold judgment on the Chapel Hill case until the investigation played out since it has been reported that it arouse out of a dispute over a parking space. The final Muslim audience member who spoke in the q and a actually took the microphone from the holder as if he were going to walk around and give a speech. He was politely told he could not do that. All in all, Phillips handled their objections quite deftly.

Phillips is an impressive figure who described the decline of Europe and its failure to stand up to Islamic extremism. She traced the cartoon controversy and hearkened back to Salmon Rushdie and The Satanic Verses, which Phillips said did much to suppress criticism of Islam in Britain. She had harsh criticism for French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and US President Barack Obama, who are unable to make the link between violent terrorism and Islam. She also criticized Obama for leaving Iraq, which has resulted in the current debacle. As to whether Europe could survive, she is not sure. The Europeans have a choice: They can either allow their freedoms to disappear or they can fight. If they choose the latter, it will not be pretty. Though the event lasted two hours, it is well worth watching her.

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