Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Response to UC Irvine Chancellor's Statement on Donald Trump

This month UC Irvine Chancellor Howward Gillman reacted to Donald Trump's controversial call to
ban Muslims from entering the US with a missive to the UCI community condemning those remarks.
The message is contained below. (I apologize for the formatting issues. It is due to cutting and
pasting from the emails.)
To the Anteater community:
As our world is shaken by tragic acts of terrorism, some may be tempted to say regrettable things based on fear. But yesterday’s statement by a leading presidential candidate, calling for barring all Muslims from entering our country, was so offensive that I feel I should speak out.
Excluding any group based solely on religion, ethnicity or background contrasts sharply with the fundamental values of our community, where all peoples come together to improve our planet through knowledge. We are not immune from the anxieties of our age, the biases of the world, or the passions of the moment. But as an institution of higher education it is our distinctive mission to confront them with intellect and reason, with a spirit of inquiry and discovery, with a commitment to mutual respect — knowing that the work of enlightening the world benefits from the tremendous diversity we welcome on our campus.
We stand together in imagining and creating a hopeful future for humankind. And today, at a time when the faith of many members of our community is under outrageous public attack, let us stand with all our Muslim faculty, staff and students who are here to help us all realize a world where we work with each other to promote our mutual well-being and common humanity.
Fiat lux,

The below response was sent to Chancellor Gillman by one of my teaching colleagues at UCI, Larry 
Sims. He forwarded it to me and has given permission to post it here.
From: Larry Sims
Sent: Thursday, December 10, 2015 11:31 AM
Subject: Re: We Stand Together
December 10, 2015
Dear Chancellor Gillman
In regard to your email the other day on “standing together” I 
feel I must comment.  Clearly you have something of a tight line to walk, and I 
don’t necessarily envy you.  Thank you for your efforts, but honestly I don’t 
think continual appeasement is the best strategy. 
Many of us Americans who were born here are not afraid; we are angry and utterly dismayed by a lack of leadership in this country. Sadly some people 
in our global community cannot be successfully “confront[ed] with intellect and 
reason, with a spirit of inquiry and discovery, with a commitment to mutual
respect”- as much as we’d hope they would change- because they have repeatedly 
stated with fanatical intent and with the action to back it up- that they want a 
worldwide Caliphate where they call the shots and execute those who do not bow 
to the Sword of Islam. Hardly an open-minded global community where the
majority can flourish, wouldn’t you agree? I personally do not relish the 
thought of going out to a Starbucks and even thinking that my children and I 
might be gunned down or blown up by religious fanatics who think they are going
to Heaven if they kill people who do not have the same beliefs as they do. “Oh,
all Muslims do not think that way,” is the tired cliché.  Granted, but if only 
1% of them do, then we have 15 million ‘time bombs’ walking around this 
‘advanced global community.’  And if the other 99% do not like what the 
militants are doing, why don’t they both say and do something? 
Many of us are also tired of hearing the words ‘hate speech’
when we simply caution others about segments of our society- be it national or global- who have such a predilection for such egregious acts as seen in San Bernardino, Paris, New York City as well as on the mountainous slopes of Iraq 
where Yazidi Christians are being tortured and slaughtered by the hundreds.
religion without the fear of tyranny or retribution.
Muslims are not under “outrageous attack”- an accurate look at history clearly shows that they are the least persecuted and most aggressive of all religions. Is it Christians, Jews, or Buddhists we immediately think of when some mass murder takes place?  
I hate to put it this way, but please let us stop kowtowing to 
Muslims and apologizing for what America stands for- freedom of speech and 
religion without the fear of tyranny or retribution. 

Merry Christmas, (Fiat lux finds its origin in Genesis, so I am being consistent here) Larry Sims

Fousesquawk comment: Regular readers of this blog know that I have always made it clear that 
innocent Muslims-especially American Muslims- must not be punished or retaliated against for the 
crimes of others. Yet, it is irresponsible not to acknowledge and discuss the threats that we 
face. I myself have called for a suspension of Islamic immigration as long as the threat of 
violent jihad and terrorism exists.  

As for the university Muslim community, I have yet to see that they are under some threat. Groups like the Muslim Student Associations and Students for Justice in Palestine have shown they can 
fend for themselves. They have hardly been victims. In addition, there are many (not all) 
Muslim professors in academia including the University of California whom I have criticized on 
this site-and will continue to do so. I am not calling for a curtailment of their First Amendment rights, but when I feel they 
have engaged in outrageous polemics, I will continue to call them out and exercise my own freedom 
of speech.

I commend Larry for his letter. As for Trump's comments, he may have used inflammatory language 
and shown some legal ignorance, but he has opened up a topic for discussion that we must have.

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