Vanderbilt University’s Hypocrisy Gets Laughable

Last week The Tennessean published two guest editorials, one by a former FACT employee and me on why Tennessee’s marriage laws did not discriminate against same-sex couples, and one by a Vanderbilt professor, Carol Swain, about Islam and terrorism. Both generated a lot of pushback from The Tennessean’s readers, but the reaction at Vanderbilt became another in a long list of examples of its almost laughable hypocrisy.

The Marriage Editorial

Our editorial on same-sex marriage simply pointed out the obvious, namely, that when it comes to what can happen when a man and a woman have sexual relations vis-à-vis two people of the same sex, there is a biological difference. And it noted that because there is nothing inherently sterile in a male-female sexual liaison, the state had an interest in encouraging such liaisons into marriages, an interest that does not pertain to same-sex relationships.

Dr. Swain’s Editorial

As to Dr. Swain’s editorial, it seemed that she was trying to give credit to a certain person in Tennessee she admires for helping bring to light what the historical practices and current day events tell us about “the dangers of radical Islam.”

And there are dangers. There is no denying that jihad against those who do not submit to Allah is part of Islamic theology, and, while different Muslims may apply and carry out jihad in different ways, incidents like what happened in France with Charlie Hebdo shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone anymore. Thus, as she said at the very beginning of her commentary what many others have said, Islam needs to be “monitored better than it has been under the Obama administration.”

She also said that the Muslim worldview has a “set of beliefs totally incompatible with Western beliefs concerning freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of association.” Many Muslims here may share our Western beliefs, but I think her point was what polls show, namely that Muslims, on the whole, do not. Why, even this week Congressional Democrats urged Saudi Arabia to stop flogging a blogger in its own country!

The Response

The reaction to these two editorials was such that The Tennessean, in a rather unusual move, felt it necessary to explain why it decided to publish them. Of course, The Tennessean, as a private enterprise, can publish or not publish what it wants, but as a news organization that offers opinions, why should anyone be upset that it published an opinion that some wouldn’t like or that might be contrary to its own? If The Tennessean were only to publish opinions everyone liked, it would not publish any opinions.

But the biggest reaction was at Vanderbilt University. Vanderbilt sent out an official email across campus saying it didn’t want any of its Muslim students to feel “unwelcome or unsafe” and, among other things, provided the contact information for the counseling center. After all, according to the email, “ensuring that this campus is welcoming to, and supportive of, all of our students has been and will remain our top priority.”

That’s interesting, because a couple of years ago the University certainly didn’t make the Christian organizations on campus feel very “welcome” if they believed sex was to be engaged in by a married man and woman. And they sure weren’t “supportive” of them; in fact, the University essentially kicked them off campus.

But the biggest irony and example of hypocrisy is that we never found any emails to students similar to those sent in response to Dr. Swain after remarks made on campus in 2010 by Awadh A. Binhazim. At the time, Mr. Binhazim was “listed on the Vanderbilt website as ‘Adjunct Professor of Islam at the Divinity School’ and an adviser to the Muslim Student Association.”

Mr. Binhazim said outright that Islam taught that homosexuals deserved the death penalty, and he agreed with what Islam taught. As a faithful Muslim, he said he didn’t “have a choice to accept or reject” its teachings. You can watch his remarks at this link.

So I guess we can begin to draw some conclusions about what Vanderbilt will support and welcome. By the University’s protestations, neither conservative Christian views on sex nor conservative concerns about radical Islam are “welcome and supported.”

But by its virtual silence, it would appear that Vanderbilt does “welcome and support” Islamic views on the death penalty for the homosexuals in support of whom it kicked the Christian organizations off campus.

As one comic is prone to say, “I don’t care who you are, that right there is funny.”


David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

FACT-RSS-Blog-Icon-small Get David Fowler’s Blog as a feed.

Invite David Fowler to speak at your event