Wilder’s presence and MSA’s opposition shows free speech in action.
In February 2009, Dutch politician Geert Wilders – who once wrote the Koran encourages Muslims “to establish an Islamic state by force” – was deported from the U.K. because he was deemed a danger to public safety. On Oct. 15, 2009 Wilders won an appeal against the decision and is now free to enter the U.K.
Today, Wilders will also be free to wander Main Campus where he will showcase his controversial short film, Fitna, which makes claims Islam validates terrorism.
Temple’s Muslim Student Association issued a statement last week publicly denouncing Temple’s decision to allow Wilders to speak at the university, writing that “the Muslim population at Temple feels attacked, threatened and ultimately unsafe that Mr. Wilders has been invited to voice his hate-driven opinions.”
Consequently, Temple College Republicans and TU Purpose decided to cancel the event. While TUCR wishes to no longer be associated with Wilders’ visit, TU Purpose pushed for Wilders speaking engagement to remain active.
These turn of events serve as a better example of the First Amendment in motion than permitting Wilders to speak in the first place.
MSA voiced their concerns through their statement, which spread ferociously through the blogosphere and warranted a response from David Horowitz, whose organization, the David Horowitz Freedom Center, is sponsoring the event.
While we cannot confirm that MSA’s concerns were the sole reason for attempting to cancel the event, the student organization’s indirect influence had a large impact. Though MSA’s main goal – hindering Wilders from coming to Main Campus – was not achieved, the organization should be proud of its efforts.
Regardless, while we empathize with MSA and care for the safety of our student body, Wilders should be given the opportunity to voice his beliefs, and in turn, students should feel free to speak their opposing viewpoints.
We encourage students who disagree with Wilders to be their own judges today. Wilders will be given the chance to voice his beliefs, and it is only fair that the MSA and any other student who finds the politician’s words hurtful voice their beliefs as well.
As a learning institution, Temple is a bustling marketplace of ideas. Wilders, as well as students, will put his thoughts up for sale; no one has to buy into them.
If everyone checks their threatening comments at the door, no violence can ensue from a verbal debate.
Wilders’ words will undoubtedly ruffle a few feathers, but if students voice their opinion, his own feathers will not go undisturbed.