Just under three weeks ago, Yale President Peter Salovey delivered his freshman address on free expression. He quoted extensively from the Woodward Report, a document whose language he called “clear and unambiguous” in its defense of free speech, and he made the case for why “unfettered expression is so essential on a university campus.”
Our community now faces an opportunity to put these ideals into practice. The Buckley Program, an undergraduate group on campus, recently invited Ayaan Hirsi Ali to give a lecture this week. An accomplished and courageous woman, Hirsi Ali has an amazing story. She suffered genital mutilation as a child and later fled to the Netherlands to escape an arranged marriage. These are beyond mere “unfortunate circumstances,” as some organizations have called it. Once in the Netherlands, she worked at a refugee center, became a politician, fought for human dignity and women’s rights and ultimately abandoned her Muslim faith. In her works since then, she has voiced strong opinions against Islam, opinions which have provoked constant threats on her life ever since.