Professor Kohn on Free Expression

Professor Kohn of the Economics Department introduced Daniel Pipes yesterday with an eloquent speech that exposed political correctness as an ideological tool and stifler of free expression. I’ve posted an excerpt; the only thing I’ve omitted are the last few paragraphs thanking the sponsors of the event and describing the format.

Good afternoon. My name is Meir Kohn and I am a professor in the Economics Department.

Today, I have the honor to welcome Daniel Pipes to Dartmouth.

Before I tell you a little of his background, I would like to say a few words about the greater significance of Dr Pipes’s visit here.

Because this is indeed a significant event– a triumph over the intellectually deadening effects of political correctness.

The great economist Adam Smith, writing over two centuries ago, described the university as follows:

“a sanctuary in which exploded systems and obsolete prejudices find shelter and protection after they have been hunted out of every other corner of the world”

Sadly, little has changed. In our generation, the “exploded system” is marxism. And our universities are indeed its last sanctuary. Neo-marxist notions set the parameters of “political correctness” on campus– the evils of capitalism and colonialism and the sins of America and Israel.

Dr. Pipes, like his father before him, has made a career of confronting and refuting this leftist groupthink.

Indeed, this seems to have become the Pipes family business.

Dr Pipes is a Harvard Ph. D. in Islamic political history. He began his career as an academic, teaching at Chicago, Harvard, and the U.S. Naval War College.

Very early on– some 20 years before 9/11– Dr Pipes realized the threat that radical Islam– Islamism, Islamo-Facsism– posed both to the Muslim world and to the United States. He left academia, which found his views unpalatable, first to head a think tank and then to found one of his own– the Middle East Forum.

By the way, it is striking how large a part of the best work on both foreign and domestic policy is being done today, not in universities, but in think tanks.

Dr. Pipes has devoted himself, in his own work and through his support of the work of others, to furthering our understanding of the nature of Islamism and to advocating policies calculated to bring about its defeat.

Not surprisingly, Dr. Pipes’ work has earned him many enemies among the Islamists and among their fellow travelers on the left.

They have spread the libel that he is a racist and anti-Muslim: neither is remotely true.

Again, not surprisingly, Dr. Pipes’ work has won him admiration and support among moderate Muslims and among those who take the Islamist threat seriously.

Before I turn the podium over to Dr Pipes, a few words of thanks to those who have made his visit to Dartmouth possible.

Let me emphasize what a singular achievement this is. I have tried for years to get Dartmouth to extend Dr. Pipes an invitation. But I was always told that it would be “too controversial”.

George Will, commenting today on the Larry Summers affair, wrote the following:

“Forgive Larry Summers. He did not know where he was. He thought he was speaking in a place that encourages unfettered intellectual explorations. He was not. He was on a university campus.”

It is ironic that it has taken a Hassidic rabbi to break the deadly grip of political correctness at Dartmouth.

UPDATE: Welcome readers of Volokh Conspiracy and Instapundit! Dartlog is the campus blog for The Dartmouth Review, America’s oldest student-run conservative newspaper and Dartmouth’s only independent publication. We also maintain another blog, The Inner Office, which comments on national politics. Back issues of the Review are also available online.