We learn from this IHE piece that Harvard economist Subramanian Swamy was apparently pretty distressed by last summer's hotel bombing in Mumbai, India by Muslim extremists. Swamy gave full vent to his feelings in a lengthy op ed piece there, arguing that Muslim terrorists were his native land's most pressing security problem. Shortly thereafter, he was in big trouble at Harvard where a group of Muslim students took offense and demanded that the university terminate his employment immediately. That didn't happen, but his faculty colleagues did an end-around by removing Swamy from the two courses he was slated to teach in the summer session for 2012. So: he hasn't been sacked, but he can't teach at Harvard either. His views, as one administrator termed them, are "destructive." I'll certainly grant you that they're controversial, but also well within the limits of controversy that an academic institution ought to be able to tolerate. It's good to see that many commenters in the response thread agree.
In a National Review Online article describing the decline of Middle East Studies in American higher education, Daniel Pipes quotes from Andrew Bieszad's recent article, "Islamo-Correctness at Hartford Seminary," in Academic Questions:
The Hartford Seminary rapidly “turned from being the premier Protestant seminary for missions to the Muslim world into an institution promoting Islamization.”
The New York Times recently ran an article by Edward Rothstein ("To Each His Own Museum, as Identity Goes on Display") about museum exhibitions that seek to vindicate certain groups' historical roles but end up distorting history through an overemphasis on group identity. In it Rothstein cites The Rise of Early Modern Science, a book by 2009 Academic Questions author Toby Huff:
From the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education:
A new short film by FIRE documents the experience of Penn State student artist Joshua Stulman, whose "Portraits of Terror" art exhibit was censored by the university because it satirized Islamic terrorism. Stulman is just one of numerous college students and faculty members who have been silenced for discussing or criticizing Islamic extremism.
Wellesley, Mass.'s head of schools has publicly apologized after learning middle schoolers participated in a Muslim prayer service during a field trip last spring. During the outing the students visited the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) mosque, a controversial site because of its ownership by the Muslim American Society and questionable activities surrounding its construction. A videotape showing the prayer session, with five boys kneeling along with Muslim worshippers, was recently published. The parent who taped the session remains anonymous. Now what do you think possibly could account for this?
Stephen Schwartz demolishes the claim by Georgetown Professor John L. Esposito that criticism of the mosque project amounts to "Islam-bashing charges leveled with no concrete evidence by pundits and politicians." Esposito, professor of religion and international affairs and director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, is the nation's leading apologist for Saudi Wahhabism, the Turkish fundamentalist Justice and Development Party (AKP), and Islamist ideologies in general. "To many," writes Schwartz, he personifies all that's wrong with Middle East studies in America today" -- notably, a gross and systematic denial of inconvenient facts. The same can be said of his blinkered championing of the proposed mosque.
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah just paid a visit to President Obama, almost two years after the deadline by which the kingdom’s educational curriculum was to have been overhauled. This reform has not take place, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom wrote to the president last week. As the National Review reports, this meeting was aimed at getting the two nations to coordinate in confronting terrorism and should also have been used by the president to personally persuade King Abdullah to fulfill his promise of textbook reform. As NR notes,
Saudi textbooks teach, along with many other noxious lessons, that Jews and Christians are “enemies,” and they dogmatically instruct that various groups of “unbelievers” — apostates (which includes Muslim moderates who reject Saudi Wahhabi doctrine), polytheists (which includes Shiites), and Jews — should be killed. Under the Saudi Education Ministry’s method of rote learning, these teachings amount to indoctrination, starting in first grade and continuing through high school, where militant jihad on behalf of “truth” is taught as a sacred duty. These textbooks are used not only in Saudi Arabia but in Saudi-funded schools around the world.
It remains to be seen whether the president broached the matter to any avail with the Saudi king.
Michael Totten, a foreign correspondent, extols Paul Berman's new book, The Flight of the Intellectuals:
While we haven't had a repeat of the apocalyptic terrorist attacks on September 11, what we do have is an entirely new class of people in the Western democracies who live in hiding and under armed guard from the same sorts of killers. Salman Rushdie was but the first, and Somalia-born feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, one-time collaborator with the butchered Theo Van Gogh, is now but the most famous.
Totten describes Berman's condemnation of much of the intellectual class to this persecution: "The killers' would-be victims have been excoriated ... , and even, in some cases, blamed for their predicament." Kudos to Berman for his defense of those preyed upon by Islamic extremists.
In recent years, threats from Islamic extremists have resulted in murder of those simply depicting Mohammed (forbidden by Islamic tradition, although not unknown to Islamic culture). From a prominent woman who fled Islamic death threats: "'South Park' and the Informal Fatwa" In a profile of cowardice, Comedy Central responded to a recent death threat by censoring the image of Mohammed on South Park You can "piss Christ," bash Buddha, mock the Pope, but humor is apparently not in the hadith.
Read: http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2010/apr/22/south-park-censored-fatwa-muhammad http://article.nationalreview.com/432601/self-censoring-isouth-parki/nina-shea
And here is the image (censored) that Comedy Central now allows:
When Danish cartoonists published cartoons of Mohammed, Islamic extremists rampaged worldwide and killed 100 people. Those who published the cartoons in the "land of the free" (USA) lost their jobs or were forced to grovel with apologies. Others had to go into hiding. Academics, of course, led the way by rotting out the foundations of any reasoned defense of a free and civil society. "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go" was the chant during the culture wars. There isn't much left of "Western Civ" or any civilization, unless it is Nihilism with cowardly fear (but not reverence) for Islam. Case in point: Years ago, Yale University admitted "Yale Taliban"--the propaganda minister for the Taliban--despite the fact he had only a fourth-grade education. Then, when Yale University Press published a book on the cartoon controversy, they censored the images for fear of death threats. Now it is another sniveling retreat in popular culture (South Park). "Land of the free"? "Home of the brave? More of the same. Shame on you Comedy Central!
AOL provides vivid and heartrending coverage of this week's vicious government suppression of the protest of tens of thousands of courageous students. We can but applaud and echo the following sentiments of a leading Iranian opposition leader -- even though the students by far outshine him in bravery :
The most senior opposition supporter in the clerical leadership made a rare public show of backing for the students in comments over the weekend. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president who usually works behind the scenes, warned that “suppression is not the way to run a country.” “Most students are protesting the existing situation,” he said. “My heart breaks when I see that students are suppressed.”
Jeff Wiesenfeld, trustee of the City University of New York, has written a letter to the New York Post concerning an alleged terrorist's appearing as a speaker at Queens College (h/t Sharad Karkhanis). The Post reports that the Muslim Students' Association (MSA) invited "an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing" to speak. James Girdusky, vice president of Queens's College Republicans, has called for an end to funding of the MSA. Queens College argues that this is a free speech issue. Trustee Wiesenfeld writes that while free speech must be protected, the CUNY community ought to speak out. I wrote an email to President James Muyskens:
I am writing a blog for the National Association of Scholars concerning Trustee Wiesenfeld's recent letter to the New York Post concerning the spat between the QC Republican Club and the MSA. The article writes that Queens has taken the position that this is a free speech issue. First, if this is a free speech issue, do you apply free speech standards to "words that wound" other groups as well as Jews? Second, if a student applies for funding of a campus Ku Klux Klan or Neo-Nazi club, would you fund that as you fund the MSA, which has stimulated anti-Semitic feeling similar to what might be feared from a KKK-type group? Third, do you see a distinction between allowing the members of the MSA to speak and providing them with funding and campus support such as student center meeting rooms?
Cross-posted from Phi Beta Cons: In the aftermath of the Fort Hood massacre, and the mounting evidence that the shooter, Nidal Malik Hasan, was motivated by Islamist beliefs, the MSM is calling for explanations from Middle East studies professors. What they're getting from these "experts," as Cinnamon Stillwell describes in a disturbing, important, and well-researched survey, "is the moral relativism and obfuscation that too often meets any effort to address Islamism or jihadism in an intellectually honest manner." Example? Writing for the Washington Post, Georgetown University's John Esposito, conflates Hasan's deeds with "extremists" of all religions, all the while professing ignorance as to why Islam should have been the object of suspicion since 9/11. Stillwell concludes:
Americans rightly concerned about the culture of political correctness and willful blindness towards Islamist ideology that has infected the U.S. military, intelligence agencies, and so many other institutions need only look to the denizens of the Ivory Tower for an explanation. Instead of explaining events like the Fort Hood shooting to the American public, all too often Middle East studies academics refuse to state the obvious and choose to obfuscate rather than clarify the events at hand. The rush to judgment against those who express valid concerns about Islamism only adds to the self-censorship that was in large part responsible for allowing Hasan to remain in the military and murder his fellow soldiers in cold blood.
Jim Leach, the new chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, wants to correct Americans' "disrespectful" attitude towards Muslim culture by giving the NEH a new theme: "Bridging Cultures." He is also annoyed at culture warriors and excitable people at town halls. NEH seems next on the list of government agencies to be politicized. Peter Wood wrote about this in an NAS.org article, "Politicizing the NEH." An excerpt:
NEH Chairman Jim Leach, speaking at the Carnegie Corporation of New York on September 29, described his plan for the humanities to help change “the temper and the integrity of the political dialogue” in the United States in a manner that sends, “an implicit message to Muslims in our country and in other parts of the world that we deeply value the contributions of their diverse and fascinating cultures.” The speech, titled “Bridging Cultures: NEH and the Muslim World,” is posted on the NEH website. Leach’s remarks are surprising on several counts. In tone, they depart from NEH tradition, which has generally celebrated American cultural achievement rather than castigate Americans for their failings. In substance, his speech amounts to an indictment without any evidence. American culture is not awash in “disrespect” for Muslim cultural contributions. A case could be made for the exact opposite: schools, colleges, museums, and other cultural institutions have been going way out of their multicultural way to point out the glories of Muslim civilization for the last decade.
Power Line Blogs picked up on the story in "Jim Leach's Bridge to Nowhere."
Surprise, surprise: multicultural dogma and concern for "the Other" have seeped from college campuses to the highest corridors of power (again).
To wit: The first veiled female appointee in the White House, Dalia Mogahed, member of the Presidential Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Mogahed recently appeared on an Islamic television show in the UK touting her Gallup poll purporting to show that women are OK with sharia. Westerners just don't get it, she says:
"the majority of women around the world associate gender justice, or justice for women, with sharia compliance. Whereas only a small fraction associated oppression of women with compliance with the shari`ah."**
For the transcript, click here. There was little news coverage, except for this British article.
Imagine if a president appointed a strict Christian adviser who stated: "gender justice means obeying the Bible and church rulings on it." Can you imagine the uproar?
The key point: Christians are not "the Other." The dominant or majority group is held to a different standard. "Others" get a pass because "it's an 'Other thing,' you just wouldn't understand."
Where is Western-style feminism when you need it? We don't lack for Women's Studies Departments that issue secular fatwas when they feel the pea of oppression through their seats in the Ivory Tower. Surely, they have something to say about treatment of women in Muslim countries? Alas, we must seek out a Yemeni feminist to criticize the appointment of Dalia Mogahed.
I can hear the comebacks: feminist critics of sharia are a minority (the abolitionists were a minority too). Or: "those uppity women need to read Dalia’s surveys and tighten their hijabs!"
**For Mogahed's puffed-up survey results, go to "Who Speaks for Islam?" For criticism of Gallup "spin" see Jihadwatch More to the point, read the conditions under which pollsters labor in Muslim countries, given the many restrictions on women and the watching eye of government and family. Do these restrictions lend themselves to representative opinion surveys?
Postscript: Apologies to Helen Reddy: "I am Woman" is the title of her best-selling song (1972). Reddy did not have sharia on her mind.
Next month the California Association of Scholars, along with the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, will sponsor a free lecture by Victor Davis Hanson on “War in the postmodern world: a review of new laws of conflict and why they are often surreal when seen in a classical context.” Here is the description of the event:
Using ancient Greece and military history as commentary, Professor Hanson will analyze the legal dilemmas faced by democracies when defending themselves against terrorist entities.
Victor Davis Hanson is a Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and Professor Emeritus of Classics at the California State University at Fresno, noted historian of ancient Greece and preeminent military historian. He is author of more than 170 articles, 16 books, and recipient of many awards, including the National Humanities Medal.
Victor Davis Hanson is also the recipient of NAS’s Peter Shaw Award and was the keynote speaker at our 2009 national conference. We hope our local members and readers will seize this opportunity to hear from an excellent scholar of Western civilization and to meet like-minded Californians.
The lecture will take place on Monday, October 12, 2009, at 7:30pm at the UCLA faculty center. Please call (310) 569-0853 if you have any questions.
A group calling itself The Ad Hoc Committee to Defend the University is circulating a statement and a petition decrying "the intrusion of partisan politics into universities' hiring and tenure practices." Inside Higher Education reported on it here and the statement and petition issued by the Committee are here. The Committee seems mainly exercised by critics of Middle East Studies professors. The petition, however, takes the position that matters involving faculty appointments should be the exclusive province of scholars within the relevant disciplines. The petitioners reject the idea that "balance" and intellectual "diversity" ought to be significant considerations in shaping university faculties. The Committee's states that, "It is university faculty, not outside political groups with partisan political agenda, who are best able to judge the quality of their peers' research and teaching."