The withdrawal of the speaking invitation to Nonie Darwish (Notebook, Jan. 13) is a sad event for Princeton and for the cause of free speech. I agree completely with the Jan. 13 letter from George A. Pieler ’73 and Stephen C. Carlson ’73, former presidents of Whig-Clio.
Along with Muslim groups on campus, it appears that Tigers for Israel found her proposed speech too incendiary for a college campus. This led one commentator to suggest that the group rename itself Chickens for Israel. While I do not know the leaders of TFI, I am willing to forgive them on the grounds that they really did not understand Nonie Darwish’s message.
As it happens, because of my recent research, I do know Ms. Darwish, her message, and her family. She is a kind, decent lady who brings a point of view that must be heard everywhere in a free country, including on the Princeton campus. We should seek to protect the rights to free speech and personal security of critics of Islamist extremism, like Ms. Darwish.
It is time to make history again. I suggest that the alumni organization take two steps: (1) Invite Ms. Darwish back to campus under its auspices; (2) Recommend that regular courses be initiated that deal with the lives and philosophies of Ms. Darwish and her ilk. They have a lot to teach us, especially the multiethnic chickens who could not bear to countenance her presence on our hallowed campus.