Mark Bauerlein at Minding the Campus details how logic and reason have begun to slip away from university campuses, only to be replaced by ‘identities’ and ‘sensitivities’:

Yale Muslims: Hurt Feelings but No Arguments

As Lauren Noble wrote two days ago here at Minding the Campus, Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s speech at Yale on Monday night was a success, despite the discomfort felt by the Yale Muslim Students Association (MSA).

I say “discomfort” because that is what the MSA itself emphasized in its September 10th letter to the Yale community protesting her visit. Hearing about the invitation to Ali, a resolute critic of Islam, the MSA drafted this nine-paragraph statement and posted it on Facebook, and it circulated quickly throughout Yale and the conservative media. The tone and content are worth examining because they mark the most illustrative aspect of the whole affair.

It’s not the attempt to prevent Ali from speaking that is troubling here. The letter didn’t do that, though the MSA would certainly have preferred it. Nor is it the effort to demonize Ali—the letter didn’t do that, either, not really, though it charged her with misrepresenting and slandering the faith. No, the real problem here is the degree to which this letter signals a deplorable trend in higher education: the shift from ideas and facts to identities and sensitivities.

Obviously, the MSA dislikes Ali because of what she has said of Islam, and we can understand why. Given Ali’s experience with Islam as a youth, her enmity is reasonable. Given the expression of that enmity, particularly her extension of personal encounters to condemnations of Islam as a whole, the MSA reaction to her makes sense as well. A debate is in order, a question is on the table: Do the oppressions Ali suffered represent the religion at large?

The academic way for the MSA to proceed, then, would be to compare two things: Ali’s characterizations of Islam and the MSA’s characterization, which would derive from Islamic law and tradition and practice. Quote Ali, then quote respected Islamic texts and leaders that contradict her. Show Ali’s error, demonstrate her bias. Display how she has allowed her personal story to stand for an entire tradition, or rather, a complex of traditions that make up the religion. It wouldn’t take much space if Ali distorts Islam as much as MSA alleges.

But that isn’t what the letter does.