And faces calls for censorship as a result.

Here’s an excerpt from Julius Kairey’s well-written piece published last Thursday in the Cornell Daily Sun:

Islamophobia and Racism

In the United States, to be termed a racist is to be shunned from the arena of respectable debate, and for good reason. History has repeatedly shown the dangers of racist argumentation, and few of us wish to entertain the types of arguments that have proven so harmful in the past.

Yet, some groups have become quite aggressive in branding critics of Muslims and Islam as racists. Organizations like the Council on American Islamic Relations seek to name and shame these “Islamophobes” and limit their access to the public airwaves.

But is Islamophobia truly racism? The answer depends on how the term is defined. If it is defined narrowly as degrading and hateful attacks on Muslims, it is. But when the term is used to cover well-grounded criticism of Islam as a religious ideology simply because such criticism seems to portray Islam in a negative light, it ceases to describe racist behavior.

Indeed, the term “Islamophobia” in the latter sense seems to demand that Islam not be critically examined like other value systems. We rarely use terms like “conservative-phobia” or “liberal-phobia” to describe aggressive criticism of conservatism and liberalism, respectively, and we never consider such criticism to be the equivalent of racism. Why? Because we believe that critical examination of ideas is essential in a free and democratic society. We should not pretend that all values — including values associated with religion — are created equal. If they were, we would never have a basis for preferring any one value to any other. We could not prefer democracy to autocracy, or freedom to slavery.

As it happens, there is a lot to legitimately criticize about the goings-on in the Islamic world today, and I do not just refer to the actions of fringe groups like ISIS, al Qaeda and Boko Haram. Mainstream values in Muslim countries are in sharp contrast with those in the West on some very important issues.

For the rest, see the original article here.

In response, fellow student Kushagra Aniket and I submitted this letter to the editor:

In Defense of Free Speech

We firmly stand by Sun columnist Julius Kairey and his right to express his strong views on this important subject with courage and conviction. While we find nothing fundamentally incorrect with Kairey’s article, we are far more concerned with the numerous calls for his censorship. In particular, there is a growing call for the suspension of his regular columns in The Sun, which are usually joined by incendiary comments about his background and his right to attend our university. Evidence of these blatant attacks on Kairey’s freedom of speech can be found in comments on his article on The Sun’s website as well as across social media accounts linking to the article.

It is extremely unfortunate to witness the pervasive censorial instincts of those confronted by opinions and arguments contrary to their own. Cornell’s motto is “Any person, any study.” It is not “Certain people, certain studies.”

It is our hope that fellow students will critically reexamine Mr. Kairey’s article and, indeed, challenge him to defend and substantiate his claims. But those who continue to disagree with Kairey must dutifully respect his freedom of speech and cherish the freedom we have in this country to hold and argue differing views.

Read the original article:
Islamophobia and Racism (Cornell Daily Sun)