how do i start, I wrote a discussion on Linkedin, about nafsa conference, and i thought that the people who are educators will understand my point of view; i wasnt trying to put a stop to this thing, i was merely asking a question and wanting a reply from nafsa. anyway, Nafsa as an organisation, gave me a good reply, i thought, well, this is great, now i know that us the educators, should not exclude poepl or spekers just because they have a point of view that differs to what we believe, after all life is about having various views, and life is about having differnt colours, and that is why we all like to have different types of food rather than sticking to one type only every day. it would be sickening otherwise.

Anyway, i will list you the replies, and would like you to be the judge, i need your comments please:

Suad Alhalwachi

Bringing Salman Rushdi as a keynote speaker to Nafsa conference? is this right?
I have been a member of NAFSA since 2005, and was always keen on attending its conferences. I find them important and interesting, and also useful as we get to gain more networks and possibly more knowledge. This year I gathered enough funds that will cover my ticket and hotel, and the conference fee, but just before I filled the form, i looked through the agenda and noticed that the keynote speaker is Salman Rushdi, so I decided not to join and I certainly hope that others will follow suit as having him is against the philosophy of NAFSA.

Now I am not an Islamic activist, nor am I against having one’s own opinion on certain religions. My argument here is that Education insists on scientific research evidences, and scientific findings, and at all the universities in the world, all of us have to show that our opinions are based on real facts (and real research methodologies), whether these come from surveys, questionnaires or checking historic data and trends. The book that was slammed by most Muslims “satanic verses” is not based on any of the above, plus it insulted the 2 billion Muslims in the world because it comprised of cynical, false information about the most influential person on earth, PBUH prophet Mohammed. The fact the he is the most influential is not according to us the Muslims, because we are always branded as chauvinists, discriminative and extremists; its according to Mr M. H. Hart who wrote a book in 1978 about the ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, this book was reprinted in 1992 with revisions. It is a ranking of the 100 people who, according to Hart, most influenced human history. Mr Hart did not come to this conclusion on the basis of what we the Muslims had written, but on the basis of “research” into historic data.

If I am NAFSA which is {an Association of International Educators, NAFSA is an association of individuals worldwide advancing international education and exchange and global workforce development. NAFSA serves international educators and their institutions and organizations by establishing principles of good practice, providing training and professional development opportunities, providing networking opportunities, and advocating for international education}, then I would expect NAFSA to practice its mission statement and not to have someone who is totally against these principles and one who writes misleading and useless information in the name of “freedom of speech”, to be its key note speaker. I would like a response from NAFSA about this fact, and i would like NAFSA and its members to convince me that having him at the conference is correct and its not against the main principles of “education”.

1. Ursula Oaks
Director, Media Relations at NAFSA: Association of International Educators

Over the years, NAFSA has sought to include speakers with diverse points of view, even challenging and controversial ones. In inviting Mr. Rushdie, NAFSA takes no position on his point of view and intends no disrespect to any members or participants.

2. Suad Alhalwachi

dear Ursula. will you also one day invite Osam bin laden then? i wouldnt want to know his thoughts either. i am not saying that we should shelter our minds, all i am saying is that this is an education and an educators conference, and we preach honest in research, so we must practice what we teach.

3. David A. Paulson

I wouldn’t be a member of any organization that excluded speakers based on their point of view. Only right wing extremists do that. Of course, there are those so-called progressives with their political correctness who are actually conservatives in progressive clothing. S.R. is one of the great writers of our time. Any intelligent and literate person should celebrate the opportunity to hear him speak. I would eagerly listen to Osama Bin Laden to hear his perpspective on the world. I would also alert American authorities long before his speech ended and celebrate his incarceration. Rushdie has committed no crime. Keep that in mind before shouting him down.

4. ravikumar –

Being in the field of education, it requires to be objective and unbiased about people and their ideology. When we preach honesty in educational and cultural research; it imperatively means that we should be ready to LISTEN impassionately rather than restricting to personal nuances.

Comparing Rushdie to Laden [though unintended] reflects lack of understanding of Rushdie’s learning and scholarship. Visiting the following page aptly suggests why he is invited for key note address at NAFSA. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salman_Rushdie

5. David A. Paulson

I certainly agree that Scholar Rushdie and Terrorist Laden are not in the same category and certainly are not of the same stature. Nevertheless, I would eagerly listen to both of them. In fact, a debate between the two would be most exciting. Guns and bombs must be left outside the hall.
We must all be diligent in our fight against extremism and prejudice. We must also be dedicated to eradicating absurdities and stupidity. Where absurdities exist, whether in politics, philosophy, or religion, those absurdities must be exposed for what they are. Just because some one or a group of someones believe in absurd things, doesn’t mean that those absurdities shouldn’t be addressed. Political correctness should always be sacrificed at the feet of truth.

6. Nicholas Tee

If we are about to start banning and protesting about people because they have their own point of view, then it’s about time to starting discussing it somewhere else than on an education related forum.

As far as inviting Bin Laden goes, something tells me that whoever invites him is in for a real problem finding him accommodation! 🙂

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8. David A. Paulson

There’s nothing that irks me more than thought police and political correctness. It takes courage of leadership to bring in someone like Rushdie. And who is this man? He happens to be one of the great writers alive today. He understands Islam as well as any person walking. He also understands the need to be able to honestly discuss any issue in our modern world. It is not “education” when we cut ourselves off from the leading intellects of our time, just because he or she happens to have a couple of points of view that differ from accepted orthodoxy. We argue for diversity in our societies, and yet some leading educational communities do not want diversity of thought. Genetic differences pale into insignificance along side the differences in the way we see our world. Education has to be the arena for intellectual debate. Any orthodoxy in philosophy, religion, or science that cannot be examined is pure and simple blind intellectual bigotry. When I hear academics shying away from certain intellectual leaders because of a “deviant thought”, I despair.

9. Martin Tillman

I’ve been a NAFSA member since 1976. As the size, scope and influence of the Association has spread across the world in these decades, decisions made about key note speakers resonate more deeply. Of course, members have a right to not attend a meeting if they feel offended by the values or viewpoints of speakers – or sessions for that matter. What I find disappointing is that those who have chosen to write in this space would expect the Association to make its programming decisions in the same manner as individuals make their choices about what to read or what political or social beliefs they practice in their personal life. NAFSA has had speakers representing divergent views speak at meetings for decades- this decision appears to have sparked disapproval because of Mr. Rushdie’s views —in a work of fiction! – about Islam.

Rushdie’s work was so condemned that a fatwah was issued which urged Muslims to kill him for what he wrote in a book. That in itself should be reason enough to bring him to the conference and support his right to freely speak to us. I would hope NAFSA members of all faiths would speak truth to power on his behalf.

10. Ana Ferrufino

I celebrate that NAFSA has invited Mr, Rushdie to be key note speaker.I agree 100% with Martin TiIllman.

11. Suad Alhalwachi

Well, one of my associates wrote me a private reply, and I hope she doesnt mind me putting it here:

“I also thought it very strange at the least that NAFSA would invite (this in not about banning, but actively “inviting”) someone to speak who would so obviously be offensive to a large segment of our membership–and the world. This is a part of the world that our country is attempting to reach out to and mend fences.

I personally chose to not attend NAFSA (primarily for this reason) and know of a number of others who who are boycotting due in total to this choice of a speaker.

Surely there are other prominent speakers to invite to a convention on international education / relations ! ”

I agree with her, she is a prominent american PHD holder who is so pro education, and one who taught me a lot about taking education to those that need it in remote areas.

I am really surprised about the replies that I am recieving for my discussion. I have only stated objectively the need to have speakers who will add to our knowledge in education and its advancement, and also I stated that I am not an extremist. I think the medium I am in does not support objective discussions, and people are taking this discussion personaly. if we want to hear people with diverse point of views, we can, but not in this conference. i assure you that there are many arenas in the world of media that can enable us to hear, see, read etc diverse points of view. but not in a conference that is so specific.

let me conclude that we are really giving him more attention than he deserves, and to this end, I would really like to end this discussion by saying this:
WHEN YOU ATTACK BLACK PEOPLE THEY CALL IT RACISM,
WHEN YOU ATTACK JEWISH POEPLE, THEY CALL IT ANTISEMITISM, WHEN YOU ATTACK WOMEN, THEY CALL IT SEXISM,
WHEN YOU ATTACK HOMOSEXUALITY, THEY CALL IT INTOLLERANCE
WHEN YOU ATTACK YOU COUNTRY, THEY CALL IT TREASON,
WHEN YOU ATTACK A RELIGIOUS SECT, THEY CALL IT HATE SPEECH,
BUT WHEN THEY ATTACK PROFIT MUHAMMED, THEY CALL IT FREEDOM OF SPEECH?

I dont want to go to this extreme. so thank you very much and good bye

12. Nicholas Tee

In these times where political correctness is going to the extreme, I would like to make a change to what was added above and ask a question:

WHEN YOU dare to have an opinion about BLACK PEOPLE THEY CALL IT RACISM,
WHEN YOU dare to have an opinion about JEWISH POEPLE, THEY CALL IT ANTISEMITISM,
WHEN YOU dare to have an opinion about WOMEN, THEY CALL IT SEXISM,
WHEN YOU dare to have an opinion about HOMOSEXUALITY, THEY CALL IT INTOLLERANCE
WHEN YOU dare to have an opinion about YOUR COUNTRY, THEY CALL IT TREASON,
WHEN YOU dare to have an opinion about A RELIGIOUS SECT, THEY CALL IT HATE SPEECH,

So are we saying that by having their own personal opinion, a person is a RACIST, SEXIST, INTOLLERANT, TREASONOUS, and a HATE SPEAKER?

Because if that is the case then the black person, the Jew, the homosexual, the Nationalist and the member of a religious belief is then denying that individual the most basic of human rights? The same human right that they themselves are demanding.

This is nuts! This is crazy! And more than anything this is a sign of a world going completely mad!

13. David A. Paulson

I happen to consider America a pagan nation, which I consider a compliment. America was created by deists who believed passionately in religious freedom and tolerance. Over the centuries, every religion within the borders of America have taken slings and arrows from those who disagreed with their fundamentals. Sadly, there have been those who have been killed and slaughtered because their faith didn’t fit the narrow constructs of the society or geography in which they lived. As enlightened individuals, we vehemently protest those who use the tenets of their faith as justification to attack those who don’t believe differently.
When someone writes, speaks, draws, or acts out something that is objectionable to some holier than thou religious or political group, it should not be cause to place a bounty on that person’s head. That behavior is primitive madness and belongs in the distant past. In the modern world, every point of view deserves a safe hearing. Arguments and debate are the forum in which ignorance, stupidity, and hate are exposed. We cannot allow a modern inquisition to resurface within any organization just to protect the feelings of some alternative point of view. If a perspective is so weak that it cannot tolerate hearing itself berated, belittled, or publicly dismissed, then that position has no merit or standing.
I am personally appalled that any modern educator would object to hearing Mr. Rushdie deliver a public speech. I would argue that anyone who simply rejects Mr. Rushdie because of something he has written is neither a modern intellectual nor an educator.

14. Keith Jolie

And for the record, his speech was funny, engaging, and enlightening.

15. David A. Paulson

Keith
Truly you lie. That can’t possibly be. Rushdie is a religious racist. He is hate-filled and evil. He couldn’t create a humorous and enlightening sentence, much less an entire speech. How is that possible? His lectern must have been pummeled with lettuce and cabbages. Shots must have rung out from the audience. With his genius, he must have slipped down a rabbit hole in one of his novels to escape the slings and arrows of those who think he deserves a fatwah or a holy Jihad.
I only wish I could have been there to hear him.

16. Ana Ferrufino

Is there anyway we can get his speech? ( video or transcripts)

4 replies
  1. amal
    amal says:

    I hope the above replies didn’t come from well educated people who are helping others in the field of education…I would like to ask why is a person offending a whole nation in its religious beliefs is considered a scholar for others to hear and learn from???? Learn what for God’s sake, learn to insult religion, learn to be famous in the west by writing rubbish… I think if he was ignored by the muslim religious leaders Salman Rushdi would have stayed being nothing in this world,NIL, truely why is NAFSA inviting him??? To encourage more new writers of offending other religions and profits under the umbrella of his own opinion!!! Shame on you people!!! Souad dear I think you were very diplomatic with your replies but the others can only see as far as there noses…

    Reply
  2. just my opinion
    just my opinion says:

    Your main assertion is that “Education insists on scientific research evidences, and scientific findings, and at all the universities in the world, all of us have to show that our opinions are based on real facts (and real research methodologies), whether these come from surveys, questionnaires or checking historic data and trends.”

    Where does that allow for literature and art? Where is the opportunity to express one’s experience as it is felt in the soul? Or simply to tell a story that is imagined. A work of fiction by its very definition is not fact – the satanic verses falls into this category. It is not factual and is expressly created under that underlying understanding.

    I do not doubt that this novel has caused some of my Muslim brothers and sisters to disagree with the opinions of the author, and perhaps they took great offense after reading the novel. How many however, have not even read the novel to form their own opinion? This is what worries me.

    To say that Satanic verses was slammed by most Muslims is conjecture at best.

    I heard Mr. Rushdie speak, you should have been there – this dialogue would have been a much more interesting dialogue if we could have had it in person. That was the end result of your decision, your voice was not present and our discussion was all the poorer because of your absence. Next time, I would encourage you to think better of the situation, and let us talk to one another as brothers and sisters on this one world on which we live as neighbors.

    Reply

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