Universities, for those of us who lecture on campuses, are the battleground for the heart and soul of the next generation of leaders. They are the battleground where we must fight to win back the opinion and allegiance of American college students. This is made harder when Islamists in both the college and local communities try to intimidate us and deny our free speech on campuses in some of the least likely places.
We have grown to expect these things on the major East and West Coast cities “elite” university campuses that harbor radical professors and anarchist student and radical Muslim community activities. But not in the heartland where I spoke last week at the University of Memphis. This occurred in the South, in "Bubbaland" as my friends from the region call it.
I was invited to give a lecture sponsored by Professor David Patterson of the Judaic Studies Program. When news about my appearance spread, the Muslim community both on and off campus launched a full-scale campaign to stop my lecture. They demanded that Dr. Patterson cancel my speech. E-mails flooded the University of Memphis administration and Dr. Patterson from Muslim students on campus and Muslims in the community and mosques. Here are some of their comments:
"People like Brigitte are plenty in the world, they are the true enemies of Islam. And despite their rubbish talks, the truth about Islam is spreading like a wildfire across Americas and across the globe (All Praise to Allah)."
"Dr. Patterson, hosting of this lady is orders of magnitude worse than hosting of the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan."
"Do you honestly think the scheduled lecture will serve any useful purpose other than inflaming the Muslims, insulting them and spilling poison in the community?"
It is interesting to see the reaction of the Muslim community to someone with Muslim shrapnel in her body who speaks against butchering innocent people in the name of Allah. If they would put the same energy into condemning the radical element within Islam and join us in saying that slaughtering people in the name of Allah is murder not Jihad, maybe we wouldn't question their loyalty as American citizens. Dr. Patterson refused to bow to their intimidation and insisted on going on with the scheduled speech.
By the time I showed up at the amphitheater style lecture hall on campus, police officers were already standing at each entrance. Nearly half of the hall was filled with Muslims with their leaders dressed Osama Bin Laden-style sitting in the front two rows at eye level making “their point” -- which was that I wasn’t going to get away with speaking freely.
Just as the program was about to begin, a Muslim student walked to the front and asked the crowd to raise their hands if they believed that this lecture was “undemocratic.” They complained that I would be taking questions on cards instead of allowing them to ask them publicly. Experienced in these settings, I knew they would make speeches, spew anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiments and create chaos in the room during the Q&A. I decided that they were not going to do that. The provocative Muslim student behavior before I even began my lecture proved my foresight. Dr. Patterson explained that taking questions from cards distributed to the audience was normal protocol at university speaking events like mine.
Patterson tried to calm the unruly crowd but nothing was working.
Fed up, I went straight to the podium and ordered everyone to sit. I told them, this is my lecture and I run the show. If they didn’t like the way I conducted my lecture and my questions they could leave the room, now. Shocked at my behavior and authority they shut-up. The non-Muslim members of the audience applauded.
I finished, asked Professor Patterson to make introductory remarks and returned to my seat.
Dr. Patterson introduced me by telling the audience what an eye opener this lecture had become because of the reaction. He stated that he never realized that here in Memphis a speaker should be threatened for his/her safety just to speak on a college campus. He introduced me and I delivered my speech with police officers on both sides as well as about eight others in the lecture hall and around the building.
Unknown to me, a Muslim student attending the University of Memphis was arrested weeks prior to my lecture for, among other things, possession of DVD's on pilot training and charts on the layout of the Memphis airport. They found links on his computer to sites associated with a radical Sunni Muslim organization in Iraq, and searches for information on how guns and bombs can be smuggled past airport security. After witnessing the Muslim reaction to my lecture and what happened few weeks ago at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when an Iranian Muslim student drove into, for Allah's sake, innocent students gathering on university grounds, the Memphis police was not going to take any chances.
It is a sad state of affairs when any speaker on any American University campus has to be surrounded by police officers to protect their freedom of speech and person from intimidation and menace. America is the country where free speech is protected under our constitution. Who would have expected that in the home of the Beale Street Blues, W.C. Handy and Elvis, I would be confronted by Muslims trying to muzzle my free speech and perhaps all of us?
At the end of the lecture the Muslims immediately in front swarmed over me questioning and intimidating me. Police officers quickly moved in and pulled me out straight to the police cars as the enraged Muslims started shouting.
Based on what happened to me in Memphis, I think its time for Americans to wake up as to what is occurring within their very midst. It is time to be energized and empowered to stand up and fight to take back our universities. Its incidents like this that spurs speakers like me to defend our civilization and everything it stands for.
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