Love and thanks,
Education or Indoctrination?
The Islamic Ideological Straitjacket in American Universities
The function of the university is to seek and to transmit knowledge and to train students in the processes whereby truth is to be made known. To convert, or to make converts, is alien and hostile to this dispassionate duty. Where it becomes necessary in performing this function of a university, to consider political, social, or sectarian movements, they are dissected and examined, not taught, and the conclusion left, with no tipping of the scales, to the logic of the facts.
So stated the University of California at Berkeley’s Academic Personnel Manual, in a section inserted by University of California President Robert Gordon Sproul in 1934. It is a ringing affirmation of the commitment of the university to education, not propaganda.
Alas, this is no longer the ideal throughout vast swaths of our higher education system. In college after college, the acolytes of multiculturalism have gained control of the faculty and administration. From these positions of power, they have systematically undermined the historic educational ideal of free inquiry in favor of a relentlessly partisan agenda. Instead of teaching the dispassionate pursuit of knowledge, university students nationwide are now indoctrinated into a post-American ideology that denounces as “racist” the criticism of any culture other than our own. In a depressing sign of the times, Berkeley removed its endorsement of dispassionate inquiry from its academic manual in 2003.
The ascendency of multiculturalism has made academia into a welcoming environment for the stealth jihad. Anti-Western professors, often backed up by Saudi money, have turned Middle Eastern Studies departments into propaganda mills for the view that Westerners themselves, and Americans in particular, are ultimately to blame for the actions of Islamic terrorists. Meanwhile, extremist Islamic student groups are not only tolerated on campuses, but are financially supported by guilt-ridden university officials.
Lacking any confidence in their own civilization and culture, university administrators and professors are unwilling and unable to halt the spread of Islamic supremacism in their own backyards.
OMID SAFI: THE PROFESSOR AS PROPAGANDIST
In Spring 2004, Professor Omid Safi of Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, offered a class called “Islam and modernity,” during which he gave this assignment (spelling and grammar as in the original):
Critical reports on Islamophobes, Neo-cons, Western triumphalists, etc.: 3 pages each on. Include: a brief biography, intellectual history, and comments on Islam (and/or Middle East where relevant)
1) Bernard Lewis, 2) Samuel Huntington, 3) Fareed Zakaria, 4) David Frum, 5)Paul Wolfowitz, 6) Leo Strauss, 7) William Kristol, 8) William Bennett, 9) Daniel Pipes, 10) Charles Krauthammer, 11) Alan Bloom, 12) Robert Spencer, 13) David Pryce-Jones, 14) Stephen Schwartz, 15) Bat Yeor,16) Jerry Falwell, 17 Pat Robertson, 18) Francis Fukuyaman, 19) Patricia Crone 20) Niall Ferguson 21)) Robert Kagan 22) Dore
Gold 23) Ibn Warraq
Over several years of teaching this course, Safi never bothered to correct the misspelled names and tortured syntax, although after I criticized him for the one-size-fits-all quality of his enemies’ list, he added this explanatory note: “This group is a broad coalition that includes folks from diverse backgrounds, such as unrepentant Orientalists, outright Islamophobes, Neo-conservatives, Western Triumphalists, right-wing Christian Evangelicals, etc.”
This explanation, however, did not adequately account for the oddness of his list. I was honored to be included with groundbreaking scholars like Bat Ye’or, Ibn Warraq, Patricia Crone, and Samuel Huntington, even though by grouping us together Safi only meant to cast aspersions on all our work. Furthermore, by lumping us together with activists like the late Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, Safi’s list suggested that all were motivated not by a scholarly interest in truth, but only by religious bigotry or prejudice. I intend in that no insult to Falwell or Robertson, although Safi obviously intended one; I only mean that their statements and writings about Islam are not scholarly, but religious and political.
To include scholars on the list with political advocates as if they were all examples of the same phenomenon—so-called Islamophobia—slyly demeaned the scholars’ objectivity and the value of their work. Which was, I expect, exactly what Safi meant to do.
Indeed, the propagandistic nature of this list and the course in general had no business in a university classroom. Labeling a group of people “Islamophobes” in a course about Islam is hardly conducive to freedom of thought. (It was especially silly in light of the fact that one person on Safi’s enemies list, Stephen Schwartz, is himself a Muslim—a fact that Safi duly noted in later editions of the list.) By classifying this truly diverse group of people as “unrepentant Orientalists, outright Islamophobes, Neo-conservatives, Western Triumphalists, right-wing Christian Evangelicals, etc.,” Safi was not teaching his students to think for themselves; he was propagandizing, carefully molding their reactions in advance, and making it difficult for them to come to their own judgments as to whether or not those on his list did or did not fit his pre-fabricated categories. He wasn’t allowing his students to evaluate on its own merits the monumental work of Bat Ye’or, or Ibn Warraq, or that of Samuel Huntington, or Patricia Crone. No, Professor Safi kindly did their thinking for them; the students were already instructed that the scholarly achievements of the people on Safi’s list had no merit, for they were all merely a product of “unrepentant” Orientalism.
Safi, in presenting his enemies’ list to his students, abandoned the traditional professorial ideal of the disinterested pursuit of knowledge, and instead simply tried to purvey propaganda. He should have been laughed out of his profession for this, but in fact his course is not at all unusual today in Middle East Studies departments at universities all over the country. Universities, especially when it comes to Islam, now place little value on objective inquiry and freedom of thought. Not only did Safi suffer no loss of academic reputation, but he soon obtained a position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a much larger and more prestigious school than Colgate.
Is Safi a stealth jihadist? There is no evidence that he is. But professors who prevent their students from learning about Islam in an objective manner, and those like Safi who place an ideological straitjacket on their students, are performing a valuable service for the stealth jihad. For in this manner Safi signaled to students that any investigation of Islamic supremacism, violent or nonviolent, would be classed as “Islamophobia,” “unrepentant Orientalism,” “Western triumphalism,” and even “neo-conservatism”— all the worst epithets in today’s academy.
Safi’s course was just one example among many of how Middle East Studies in American universities has been taken over by propagandist-professors and political agitators who are working, wittingly or unwittingly, for goals that overlap or coincide with those of the stealth jihadists. Students, untutored in these matters, and often trusting in the “scholarly” nature of the undertaking (and the personal charm that can be turned on by those intent on winning over students for various purposes), are frequently defensive about these professors. Only later, when some of them study the same subject in relative freedom, do they come to realize what a shoddy bill of goods they have been sold. But for many, the views that are inculcated when they are young take a long time to undo—if they’re ever undone at all.
IN MY MIND I’M WAGIN’ JIHAD AT CAROLINA
Omid Safi’s new home, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, gained nationwide attention in 2002, when all incoming freshmen were assigned to read an annotated rendition of parts of the Qur’an. The book was Approaching the Qur’an: The Early Revelations, translated and annotated by Michael Sells. The Qur’an’s “early revelations” of the subtitle generally preach a relative tolerance and mutual coexistence between Muslims and nonbelievers; the doctrines of jihad and dhimmitude that—according to mainstream Islamic theologians—actually supersede the more tolerant verses, and that have proven so oppressive to Jews, Christians, and other non-Muslims throughout history, unfold in later Qur’anic revelations. Thus they are not included in the book.
One may wonder what such a misleading presentation was designed to accomplish. Safi defended his decision to translate only the more moderate Meccan Suras on the grounds that they are the most accessible introduction to the Qur’an and Islamic study as a whole. While that may be true, taken in isolation Approaching the Qur’an is severely misleading about the nature of the religion as a whole and about the intentions and motives of Islamic jihadists, the very people who have made Islam such a hot topic for students.
On the Carolina faculty Safi joined Carl Ernst, another academic propagandist. In his highly apologetic 2003 work Following Muhammad, Ernst marvels that “in all the images of Islam that are commonly circulated in European and American culture, little can be found that is positive.” He concludes, “Although I am not a psychologist, I cannot help but feel that there is a mechanism of projection operating here, along the lines spoken of by Jungians, in which one’s negative characteristics are projected onto others.”
Projection? So we are to believe that the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington, the 2005 attacks in London, the Madrid subway bombing, the attacks on a school in Beslan and a theatre in Moscow, the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings, the murder of Theo van Gogh in the streets of Amsterdam, the beheadings of Nicholas Berg and Daniel Pearl, the murder of scores of Buddhists in southern Thailand, and over ten thousand other jihadist terror attacks around the world since September 11—all committed by Muslims and in the name of Islam—have nothing to do with Islam’s negative image in the West?4 No, it is all projection, and the entire Western world of accusing infidels must sit on the couch and endure years of therapy with Herr Doktor Jung in order to get to the psychic origins of the particular projection in question.
This is the state of the academy in the early twenty-first century, precisely when our nation needs people who have academic training in the ideology of those who would destroy us. But such politically incorrect training is not to be had—and its absence serves the purposes of the stealth jihadists.
After I spoke at the University of North Carolina in 2004, Professor Ernst wrote a piece about me. Declining to provide any evidence to challenge my analysis of Islam and Islamic jihad, he simply warned that my books were non-scholarly and were published by presses that he believed reflected a conservative political agendas In this display Ernst epitomized the decline of the academy into a propaganda mill; it’s a sad spectacle to see a university professor criticize a book not because of any faulty arguments, hut because it was published by people on the wrong side of the political fence. This demonstrated yet again how far American universities have fallen away from Berkeley’s former assertion that the university exists to train students to find the truth. The idea of pursuing and uncovering the truth did not seem even to occur to Professor Ernst, who was clearly more concerned with gaining recruits for his particular point of view.
Aside from the degradation of academic culture, the whitewashing of Islam presents a more immediate danger. This was horrifically brought home at UNC itself on March 3, 2006, when a twenty-two-year-old Iranian student named Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar drove an SUV onto the Carolina campus, deliberately trying to kill people and succeeding in injuring nine. After the incident he seemed singularly pleased with himself, smiling and waving to crowds after a court appearance at which he explained he was “thankful for the opportunity to spread the will of Allah.”
Taheri-azar left a letter in his apartment explaining his rampage. It is chillingly detached, almost clinical: “In the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate. To whom it may concern: I am writing this letter to inform you of my reasons for premeditating and attempting to murder citizens and residents of the United States of America on Friday, March 3, 2006 in the city of Chapel Hill, North Carolina by running them over with my automobile and stabbing them with a knife if the opportunities are presented to me by Allah.”
In the letter, Taheri-azar identifies himself simply as “a servant of Allah.” He declares that “in the Qur’an, Allah states that the believing men and women have permission to murder anyone responsible for the killing of other believing men and women …. After extensive contemplation and reflection, I have made the decision to exercise the right of violent retaliation that Allah has given me to the fullest extent to which I am capable at present.” And further, “Allah’s commandments are never to be questioned and all of Allah’s commandments must be obeyed. Those who violate Allah’s commandments and purposefully follow human fabrication and falsehood as their religion will burn in fire for eternity in accordance with Allah’s will.”
In a letter written a week later, Taheri-azar asserted, “I live with the holy Koran as my constitution for right and wrong and definition of justice… Allah gives permission in the Koran for the followers of Allah to attack those who have raged [sic] war against them, with the expectation of eternal paradise in case of martyrdom and/or living one’s life in obedience of all of Allah’s commandments found throughout the Koran’s 114 chapters. I’ve read all 114 chapters approximately 15 times since June of 2003 when I started reading the Koran.” And he did not try to murder UNC students “out of hatred for Americans, but out of love for Allah instead. I live only to serve Allah, by obeying all of Allah’s commandments of which I am aware by reading and learning the contents of the Koran.”‘ Later he expanded on this by sending a detailed exposition of the Qur’an’s teachings on warfare to the Carolina campus newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel.’
Thus nine University of North Carolina students fell victim to a Muslim motivated by a violent Islamic ideology that UNC professors had taken great pains to downplay or to deny existed at all. If they had instead acknowledged the existence of the jihadist ideology after September 11 and, in its program for freshmen the next year, called upon local Muslim groups—including the local chapter of the Muslim Students Association—to develop comprehensive programs teaching against the jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism, Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar might never have rented an SUV with an intent to kill on that day in March.
To be sure, the MSA dissociated itself from Taheri-azar’s actions, but it could do nothing else, and no one in the area was knowledgeable or courageous enough to ask them hard questions about what they intended to do to prevent the spread of Taheriazar’s ideology among UNC’s Muslim students in the future.
The writings of Carl Ernst and Michael Sells made sure of that. And Omid Safi is now at UNC to pitch in as well.
THE SAIDIST STRAITJACKET OF INTELLECTUAL CONFORMITY
The likes of Safi and Ernst are the rule, not the exception, on American campuses today, and this has come at the detriment of our national security. It’s difficult to anticipate the attacks of our enemies, and to devise a comprehensive strategy to defeat them, when so many of the nation’s top experts in Islam and the Middle East are beholden to a rigid, politically correct ideology that ignores or denies the theological roots of Islamic terrorism and supremacism.
This became evident immediately after September 11. With so many academics invested in the interpretation of Islam as a religion of peace, the attacks came as a complete surprise to nearly the entire profession. Thomas Hegghammer, a postdoctoral research fellow at Princeton University and a research fellow at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment in Oslo, has noted that academics as well as defense and security officials were caught off guard by September 11, since “Middle East scholars on both sides of the Atlantic had long shunned the study of Islamist militancy for fear of promoting Islamophobia and of being associated with a pro-Israeli political agenda. In these communities, there was a tendency to rely on simple grievance-based explanations of terrorism and to ignore the role of entrepreneurial individuals and organizations in the generation of violence. This is part of the reason why the main contributions to the literature on al Qaeda in the first few years after 9/11 came from investigative journalists, not academics.”
Boston University professor Richard Landes observes that “the problem with Middle Eastern Studies in the USA (a fortiori in Europe) is that it’s been colonized by Muslim and Arab scholars who have politicized the field and intimidated Western scholars ….Today’s Middle Eastern Studies more closely resembles the kind of atmosphere that dominated the late medieval university (inquisitorial) than a free and meritocratic culture committed to honesty.”
Historian Bernard Lewis, the first name on Professor Safi’s enemies list, warned in April 2008 of the dangers of the prevailing ideological straitjacket, pointing out that Middle East Studies departments in universities all over the country now manifest “a degree of thought control and limitations of freedom of expression without parallel in the Western world since the 18th century, and in some areas longer than that ….It seems to me it’s a very dangerous situation, because it makes any kind of scholarly discussion of Islam, to say the least, dangerous. Islam and Islamic values now have a level of immunity from comment and criticism in the Western world that Christianity has lost and Judaism has never had.”
The intellectual godfather of this brand of stifling conformism on American campuses today was Professor Edward Said (1935-2003), whose 1978 book Orientalism has become the philosophical foundation for the anti-Americanism and benign view of jihadist activity and Islamic supremacism that now prevail almost everywhere. Not that Said is responsible for the decline of the academy all by himself. The cult of the Third World, multiculturalism, the expansion of universities and of their faculties, and the rampant careerism in today’s academy have all played a role, as has the exaggerated attention now paid to the racial, sexual, and ethnic identity of writers.
Nevertheless, while the Left has been blazing an anti-American course in academia since the 1960s, Said’s work provided an intellectual framework for it in Middle East Studies, making possible a wholesale purge from academia of the Western, non-Muslim “Orientalists” who had previously pursued the study of Islam and the Muslim world as an academic discipline.
The former Muslim and scholar of early Islam, Ibn Warraq, penned a blistering critique of Orientalism entitled “Edward Said and the Saidists, Or, Third World Intellectual Terrorism.” As noted by Ibn Warraq, “Said attacks not only the entire discipline of Orientalism, which is devoted to the academic study of the Orient but which Said accuses of perpetuating negative racial stereotypes, anti-Arab and anti-Islamic prejudice,” but he also “accuses Orientalists as a group of complicity with imperial power, and holds them responsible for creating the distinction between Western superiority and Oriental inferiority.” In short, Ibn Warraq charges, Said contends that up until 1978, “much of what was written about the Orient in general, and Islam and Islamic civilisation in particular, was false.”
Predictably, Said became a kind of academic rock star, as professors became enthralled by his denunciation of nearly the entire canon of scholarship that preceded him. The result has been insidious. “The most pernicious legacy of Said’s Orientalism,” states Ibn Warraq, “is its support for religious fundamentalism, and on its insistence that ‘all the ills [of the Arab world] emanate from Orientalism and have nothing to do with the socioeconomic, political and ideological makeup of the Arab lands or with the cultural historical backwardness which stands behind it.'” Oriental-ism, Ibn Warraq concludes, is “worthless as intellectual history” and “has left Western scholars in fear of asking questions—in other words, has inhibited their research. Said’s work, with its stri dent anti-Westernism, has made the goal of modernization of the Middle Eastern societies that much more difficult. His work, wherein all the ills of Middle Eastern societies is blamed on the wicked West, has made much-needed self-criticism nearly impos- sible. His work has encouraged Islamic fundamentalists whose impact on world affairs needs no underlining.”
Said’s anti-Western “scholarship” has certainly undermined those who seek to resist the jihadists’ agenda. What’s even worse is that much of the Said-style pedagogy in academia is funded by foreign Islamic fundamentalists who hardly have America’s best interests at heart.
FOLLOW THE MONEY
Those who propagate the anti-Western agenda are rewarded handsomely. Safi’s propagandizing earned him a position at a major university. And Ernst, for his apologetic Following Muhammad, which displaced responsibility for the ills of the Islamic world onto the West, was awarded the Distinguished Prize in the Humanities by the board of trustees of the Cairo-based Shaykh Muhammad Salih Bashrahil Prize for Outstanding Cultural Creativity. The award comes with a $30,000 cash prize.
Most important, an influx of huge amounts of money from Islamic donors has made it clear to scholars, academic departments, and entire universities that an outwardly pro-Islamic orientation will pay off in spades. The source of much of this largess is the plutocrat Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a member of the Saudi royal family.
Alwaleed’s own political views became clear when he achieved worldwide notoriety in October 2001 after presenting New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani with a check for $10 million for the Twin Towers Fund, a charity devoted to aiding relatives of police and firefighters killed on September 11. Along with the check, Alwaleed released a statement about the terrorist attacks, declaring, “At times like this one, we must address some of the issues that led to such a criminal attack. I believe that the government of the United States of America should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance towards the Palestinian cause.” In response, Giuliani rejected the check and denounced Alwaleed’s display of moral equivalence.” “There is no moral equivalent for this act,” Giuliani proclaimed. “There is no justification for it. The people who did it lost any right to ask for it when they slaughtered 4,000 or 5,000 innocent people. And to suggest that there’s a justification for it only invites this happening in the future. It is highly irresponsible and very, very dangerous.”
While Giuliani had the moral fortitude to sacrifice millions of dollars to take a moral stand against Alwaleed, the same cannot be said of the administrators at Harvard and Georgetown universities, both of which accepted $20 million donations from Alwaleed in December 2005 to finance Islamic studies departments. Harvard’s provost, Steven E. Hyman, gushed about its new program, “For a university with global aspirations, it is critical that Harvard have a strong program on Islam that is worldwide and interdisciplinary in scope.” Georgetown, meanwhile, renamed its Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding after its new benefactor—the center is now the “H.R.H. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.”
Alwaleed was well aware of what he was buying. Martin Kramer, author of the superb expose of academic bias in Middle East Studies in American universities, Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America, remarked, “Prince Alwaleed knows that if you want to have an impact, places like Harvard or Georgetown, which is inside the Beltway, will make a difference.”
And Harvard and Georgetown have by no means been the only recipient of the Prince’s largesse: in May 2008 he announced a sixteen-million-pound (or $29 million) gift to Cambridge and Edinburgh Universities—again for Islamic study centers ostensibly devoted to building bridges of understanding between the Western and Islamic worlds.” This came as part of an even larger initiative by wealthy Muslims to influence university life in Britain: in April 2008, Jonathan Evans, the director-general of MI5, the British intelligence and security service, declared that after British universities had received donations amounting to nearly 500 million pounds (or $915 million) from Muslim donors from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and elsewhere, there had been a “dangerous increase in the spread of extremism in leading university campuses.” He said that many of the donations came from Muslim organizations “which are known to have ties to extremist groups, [and] some have links to terrorist organizations.”
These donations are not intended to fund objective scholarship on Islam; they’re meant to forward a very specific agenda. Even the Muslim American Society imam W. Deen Mohammed, the son of Nation of Islam leader Elijah Mohammed, has acknowledged that Saudi money comes with strings. He told the Los Angeles Times that “in Saudi Arabia it’s the Wahabi school of thought … and they say, ‘We’re gonna give you our money, then we want you to… prefer our school of thought.’ That’s in there whether they say it or not. So there is a problem receiving gifts that seem to have no attachment, no strings attached.” Mohamed said of his own dealings with the Saudis, “I suspected some strings were attached. I said I can’t accept this kind of relationship. They were choosing my friends for me, too. The enemy of the friends who were giving me money was supposed to be my enemy, too.”
Who are the enemies of Alwaleed? Are they now the enemies of Harvard and Georgetown also? What is his money paying for?
Clues to these questions can be found in the work of one of Alwaleed’s primary beneficiaries.
JOHN ESPOSITO AND THE FACTS
Georgetown Islamic Studies professor John Esposito has for many years proffered Alwaleed’s brand of moral equivalence. At the Conference for Civilisational Dialogue in Malaysia in 1997, Esposito, according to a report on the conference, “explained that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter; and that terrorism, as seen in the case of Israel’s or the Tel Aviv regime’s treatment of Palestinians, can and has been used to legitimate wanton violence and continued acts of oppression.”
It should come as no surprise, then, that Esposito became director of Georgetown’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. Years prior to that, Esposito was the Clinton administration’s Islamic expert and a media favorite. Kramer offers a blistering analysis of Esposito’s thought in Ivory Towers on Sand: in the 1990s Esposito’s peculiar genius, says Kramer, was in convincing people that “Islamist movements were nothing other than movements of democratic reform.”” Esposito has also actively discouraged academic investigations of the jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism; Kramer notes that in the 1992 edition of Esposito’s since-revised book, The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?, Esposito deems “Islamist violence” to be “beyond the bounds of approved research. Dwelling upon it would only reinforce stereotypes. After all, announced Esposito, `most’ Islamic movements had reached the conclusion that violence was `counterproductive.”They speak of the need to prepare people for an Islamic order rather than to impose it.”
It’s clear why Esposito saw a need for post-September 11 revisions to this book, but it’s also noteworthy that he implicitly acknowledges that the Islamic supremacist agenda is proceeding not just by violence, but also by more stealthy means: violence, notes Esposito, could be “counterproductive” to the overall goal of instituting an “Islamic order” in the West. He did not say that the Islamic groups set aside the goal of establishing an Islamic order; he simply noted that they were going about it by different means.
Also in The Islamic Threat, Esposito defines jihad as “the effort to lead a good life, to make society more moral and just, and to spread Islam through preaching, teaching, or armed struggle.”24 Yet as we saw in chapter two, this definition bears little resemblance to the statements on jihad by classic Islamic jurists. And Rice University professor David Cook, author of Understanding Jihad and one of the few academics who retains a spirit of independent inquiry into Islam, observes that Esposito’s definition of jihad “has virtually no validity in Islam and is derived almost entirely from the apologetic work of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Muslim modernists. To maintain that jihad means ‘the effort to lead a good life’ is pathetic and laughable in any case.”
Esposito was even more disingenuous in his 2008 book Who Speaks for Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think, cowritten with Dalia Mogahed, the executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies. In this purportedly comprehensive Gallup World Poll of global Muslim attitudes toward terrorism and other issues, Esposito and Mogahed quote Albert Einstein: “A man should look for what is, and not what he thinks should be.” And they state grandly that “the data should lead the discourse.”
But that is just what Who Speaks for Islam? does not do. Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, in a devastating review of the book in The Weekly Standard, pointed out that Esposito and Mogahed had played games with the survey data in order to present the Islamic world as more moderate and pro-democracy than it really is. “Mogahed,” said Satloff, “publicly admitted they knew certain people weren’t moderates but they still termed them so. She and Esposito cooked the books and dumbed down the text.” Esposito and Mogahed report that 13.5 percent of Muslims believe that the September 11 attacks were fully justified, but Satloff reveals that “the full data from the 9/11 question show that, in addition to the 13.5 percent, there is another 23.1 percent of respondents-300 million Muslims—who told pollsters the attacks were in some way justified. Esposito and Mogahed don’t utter a word about the vast sea of intolerance in which the radicals operate.”
“Amazing as it sounds,” Satloff notes, “according to Esposito and Mogahed, the proper term for a Muslim who hates America, wants to impose sharia law, supports suicide bombing, and opposes equal rights for women but does not ‘completely’ justify 9/11 is … ‘moderates.’
Hillel Fradkin, director of the Center for Islam, Democracy and the Future of the Muslim World and senior fellow of the Hudson Institute in Washington, also denounced the book for distorting the results of the poll on which it’s based. He concludes that “the book is a confidence game or fraud, of which Esposito should he ashamed. So too should the Gallup Organization, its publisher.”
Most disturbing of all may he the authors’ refusal to consider the real implications of their own finding that “Muslims—women as well as men—want to ground their ‘democracy’ partly or entirely in sharia or Islamic law.” Unlike Esposito and Mogahed, the Muslims who answered the survey most likely thoroughly understand what sharia really means. And to the extent that they support the onset of sharia, they support the goals of both the violent and stealth jihadists.”
Esposito, then, has essentially made a career (both before and after receiving Alwaleed’s millions) out of denying or mini”mizing the jihadist threat, while arguing that the problem within Islam is restricted to a tiny minority who misunderstand the teachings of their own religion, and who are too powerless to undertake any stealth jihad in the United States. It is a soothing picture, and one that many Americans want to hear. But insofar as Esposito’s picture of jihad and Islamic supremacism is (at best) misleading, and the stealth jihad really exists, this popular analyst’s findings only leave us unprepared in the face of an actual threat.
Esposito is only the most prominent of a legion of tenured “Islamic “experts” who have convinced innumerable officials and a large segment of the American public that the solution to the conflict between the West and the Islamic world lies in economic and social solutions, as well as in economic and political solutions, they have no apparent fallback position if they find that after the Islamic grievances have all been met, the Islamic supremacist agenda remains.
SAUDI MONEY AND WHAT IT BUYS
Esposito is hardly the only academic who has benefited, in terms of both financial support and career advancement, from the inflow of Islamic money into American universities. Another is Columbia professor Rashid Khalidi, who taught a fifteen-week teacher training course on Middle Eastern politics offered by Columbia’s Middle East Institute.
The institute was yet another academic institution bankrolled by the Saudis who, the New York Sun reported in March 2005, “funneled tens of thousands of dollars” into the institute’s teacher outreach programs.
However, New York City’s schools chancellor, Joel Klein, removed Khalidi from the program, and Columbia president Lee Bollinger withdrew the university’s support for the course, after radical statements by Khalidi surfaced in the media, such as his sly justification for jihad terror attacks against Israeli civilians: “Killing civilians is a war crime, whoever does it. But resistance to occupation is legitimate in international law.”
Nevertheless, at Columbia Khalidi continues to hold the Edward Said Chair in Arab Studies, which is endowed to the tune of $2.1 million. After coming under criticism for failing to report foreign donors for this chair, Columbia revealed its contributors, which included the United Arab Emirates (which donated $200,000) and the Olayan Charitable Trust, a Saudi-based charity. Commented Martin Kramer, “If you’re a Saudi, it’s very convenient for Rashid Khalidi to claim that the source of America’s problems in the region is not their special relationship with Saudi Arabia, but their special relationship with Israel. All he has to do is say it’s Palestine, stupid”
For propagating the Saudi line, Khalidi has not only received a chair at Columbia University; he has also made friends in the highest places. In 2001 and 2002, the virulently anti-Israeli Arab American Action Network (AAAN), which was headed by Khalidi’s wife Mona, received $75,000 in grants from the Woods Fund, a Chicago–based nonprofit organization. One of the members of the Woods Fund board of directors at that time was 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, Khalidi’s former colleague back in the 1990s, when they both taught at the University of Chicago. In 2000, Khalidi held a fundraiser for Obama’s unsuccessful run for a seat in the House of Representatives.” Obama’s meteoric rise to the top of national politics only places Khalidi, the point of view he represents, and the moneyed forces behind him, even closer to the centers of power than they were already.
MEANWHILE, IN THE ACADEMIC DESERT
While conformity to Edward Said’s anti-Western agenda is driven from the top down by administrators and professors at our nation’s universities, often with massive amounts of money from the Islamic world as an incentive, the Muslim Students Association of the United States and Canada (MSA) fights for the Islamization of America among college students.
We have already discussed numerous examples of the role in the stealth jihad played by the MSA, which the Muslim Brotherhood memorandum lists as a principal actor in its “grand jihad” in the United States. However, like other stealth jihadist organizations, the MSA seeks to portray itself as a moderate, mainstream Islamic group. A loose association of Muslim student groups located on more than seven hundred American and Canadian campuses, the MSA lists a set of “Guiding Principles” on its website that paint a picture of an earnest and high-minded religious organization:
· Sincerity is the foundation of our existence.
· Knowledge precedes our actions.
· Humility guides our conduct.
· Truthfulness is the mark of our speech.
· Moderation is the compass of our journey.
· Tolerance is the banner of our outreach.
· Forgiveness precedes our reconciliatory efforts.
· Patience is the hallmark of our planning.
· Gratitude binds our hearts together.
The “Constitution of The Muslim Student’s Association of the United States and Canada” states that “the aims and purposes of MSA shall be to serve the best interest of Islam and Muslims in the United States and Canada so as to enable them to practice Islam as a complete way of life. Towards this end, it shall, in cooperation with the Islamic Society of North America:
1.help Muslim student organisations carry out Islamic programs and projects;
2. Muslim students organising themselves for Islamic activities;
3. mobilise and coordinate the human and material resources of Muslim student organisations.
And who could object to any of that? Most university administrators today assume that the MSA is an innocuous religious organization, and at some schools they donate considerable sums to MSA chapters in an effort to offset what they see as the “Islamophobia” of the Bush administration. According to conservative activist David Horowitz, MSA chapters are “all funded by student activities fees and by outside sources that are not disclosed. At the University of Pennsylvania, the Muslim Students’ Association boasts a $50,000 annual budget. Of this total $20,000 comes from student fees. By contrast, College Democrats and College Republicans at the University of Pennsylvania receive no student funding.”
Yet, if the MSA is indeed the moderate organization that university administrators believe it is, then why do we find MSA chapters at schools such as New York City’s Queensborough Community College sponsoring incendiary speakers proclaiming that “eventually there will be a Muslim in the White House dictating the laws of sharia”?
That the MSA is not the moderate group it claims to be is evident from the close ties the organization maintains to a number of radical Islamic organizations. Besides the Brotherhood connection, the MSA has links to the Wahhabis, the Islamic supremacist sect that controls Saudi Arabia. Hamid Algar, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, in his Wahhabism: A Critical Essay observes that “some Muslim student organizations have … functioned at times as Saudi-supported channels for the propagation of Wahhabism abroad, especially in the United States.” He notes that over time the MSA gradually “diversified its connections with Arab states”—that is, it no longer depended solely upon Saudi Arabia, but “official approval of Wahhabism remained strong.”
The MSA has also been linked to the Muslim World League, a group that has financed the jihad terror group Hamas. Furthermore, it sought donations for the Holy Land Foundation, whose assets were seized by the U.S. government in December 2001 to prevent it from funding Hamas.’ In many ways the MSA serves as a reminder of the close connection and overlap between the agents of the stealth jihad and the soldiers of the violent jihad. Both are working for the same goals, and they find their paths crossing quite often.
Moreover, MSA chapters have fostered anti-American paranoia with actions such as the endorsement of a 2002 document devised by the Revolutionary Communist Party that claimed the U.S. government was “coming for the Arab, Muslim and South Asian immigrants …. The recent ‘disappearances,’ indefinite detention, the round-ups, the secret military tribunals, the denial of legal representation, evidence kept a secret from the accused, the denial of any due process for Arab, Muslim, South Asians and others, have chilling similarities to a police state.”
Despite the MSA’s pretense at moderation, the jihadist sentiments of many MSA members have been known for many years. On October 22, 2000, Arif Shaikh and Ahmed Shama of the MSA chapter at UCLA led a demonstration at the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles. Shama shouted, “Victory to Islam! Death to the Jews!” and told the crowd: “Our solution is simple ….Our solution is the establishment of justice by Islamic means. That is the only solution to this Israeli apartheid.” As we saw in chapter two, “justice by Islamic means” refers to warfare against unbelievers and their subjugation under Islamic law. Even worse, as Shama burned the Israeli flag, the crowd chanted, “Khaibar, Khaibar, 0 Jews, the army of Mohammed is coming for you,” and “Death to Israel, victory to Islam?
When MSA members at another campus, the University of Michigan, hosted speaker Sami al-Arian (who later pled guilty to aiding a terrorist group, Palestinian Islamic jihad) in October 2002, the crowd also chanted “Death to Israel.”‘” But the Khaibar reference at UCLA was even more pointed for those who knew Islamic history, as it refers to a Jewish Arabian oasis conquered by a Muslim expedition led by Muhammad. After conquering Khaibar, Muhammad banished most of the Jews into exile, commanding them to leave behind all their gold and silver.4’ Some Jews remained at Khaibar, but later, during the caliphate of Umar (634-644), the rest of the Khaibar Jews were banished to Syria and their remaining land was seized.”
These were the glories that the MSA commemorated during their demonstration in front of the Israeli Consulate. In chanting “Khaibar, Khaibar, 0 Jews, the army of Mohammed is coming for you,” the crowd was expressing its desire for the eradication of Israel. And Israel isn’t the only country that MSA-sponsored agitators want to see wiped out: in January 2001, Abdul-Alim Musa, Imam of Masjid al-Islam in Washington, D.C., spoke at an event hosted by the MSA at UCLA. He declared, “If you were to say that the Soviet Union was wiped off the face of the earth…people would have thought you were crazy, right?… We saw the fall of one so-called superpower, Old Uncle Sam is next.”
Do such views reflect the MSA’s own perspective? If they don’t, one might legitimately wonder why such sentiments are expressed over and over again at MSA-sponsored speeches, activities, and publications. For example, the UCLA MSA chapter publishes a news magazine, Al-Talib, which for a time, as we have seen, boasted MPAC’s Edina Lekovic as its editor. This is no small-time campus paper: the MSA prints 20,000 copies of each issue, and Al-Talib has 56,000 readers in thirty-seven states. In July 1999 AlTalib featured Osama bin Laden on its cover. The story on him declared, “When we hear someone refer to the great Mujahid… Osama bin Laden, as a ‘terrorist,’ we should defend our brother and refer to him as a freedom fighter.”^= In November 2000, AlTalib said this of Abdullah Azzam, who cofounded al Qaeda with Osama bin Laden: “We pray that Sheik Azzam’s dream of a true Islamic state comes true.” After September 11, Al-Talib carried advertisements for three Islamic charities that were later shut down for funneling money to jihad terror groups: the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the Global Relief Foundation, and the Benevolence International Foundation.”
The UCLA chapter of the MSA is no anomaly. The Muslim Student Union (MSU) at the University of California at Irvine—that is, the local MSA chapter—has sponsored several talks by Imam Abdel Malik-Ali, a fiery American convert to Islam. At an MSU event on October 5, 2006, as students cheered he shouted, “They [sic] Jews think they are superman, but we, the Muslims, are kryptonite. They [sic] Jews know that their days are numbered.”‘ Ominous in a different way was the February 2006 declaration of the MSA at Columbia University denouncing the Danish Muhammad cartoons. “We are protesting the newspapers’ insult to Islam ….Freedom of expression is not absolute?”
Perhaps not, but the problem with restricting free speech is that insults and “hate speech” are in the eye of the beholder. Such restrictions become weapons in the hands of those who wield political power, or who are jockeying for that power—weapons to silence their opponents. Today’s worldwide effort by Islamic jihadists and their allies and dupes to classify all critical examination of Islamic supremacism as “hate speech” only benefits Islamic supremacists: if this effort succeeds, we Americans will be mute and hence defenseless in the face of the jihadist onslaught.
MSA chapters have worked for restrictions on free speech. In April 2006, MSA members at Michigan State University staged a protest against the Danish Muhammad cartoons, which they declared to be “hate speech.” This incensed Indrek Wichman, a professor of mechanical engineering at the university, who fired off an email to the school’s MSA chapter in which he declared:
I intend to protest your protest. I am offended not by cartoons, but by more mundane things like beheadings of civilians, cowardly attacks on public buildings, suicide murders, murders of Catholic priests (the latest in Turkey!), burnings of Christian churches, the continued persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt, the imposition of sharia law on non-Muslims, the rapes of Scandinavian girls and women (called `whores’ in your culture), the murder of film directors in Holland, and the rioting and looting in Paris France ….If you do not like the values of the West—see the 1st Amendment—you are free to leave. I hope for God’s sake that most of you choose that option. Please return to your ancestral homelands and build them up yourselves instead of troubling Americans.
For this the MSA demanded that Professor Wichman be reprimanded and that faculty members and freshman students be forced to undergo mandatory “diversity training.” After extensive negotiations with the MSA and LAIR, the university instituted university-funded—though non-mandatory—diversity training for faculty and students, including an MSA-led workshop.”
Meanwhile, the MSA chapter at Penn State has hosted Sheikh Khalid Yasin, an American convert to Islam who has shown his support for Islamic supremacism by declaring, “If you don’t have a people that is governed by sharia, then you have a lawless people.”‘ Similarly, the MSA chapters at Temple University and George Washington University have hosted Imam Zaid Shakir, who has stated that “every Muslim who is honest … would like to see America become a Muslim country,” and that American Constitutional government is “against the orders and ordainments of Allah.” The MSA at Virginia Commonwealth University has hosted Imam Siraj Wahhaj, who, as we have seen, has declared, “If only Muslims were clever politically, they could take over the United States and replace its constitutional government with a caliphate.”
Unfortunately, such statements hardly raise eyebrows among the professors who make up the Middle East Studies establishment. American universities have become propaganda centers not only for the anti-American Left, but for stealth jihadists and their allies—the apologists who are dedicated to lulling Americans into believing there is no jihadist threat.
If we are to win the war against the jihadists, we need to have a thorough understanding of their doctrine, history, and sources of inspiration. Sadly, the segment of America most suited to investigating these questions—academic experts in Middle Eastern Studies—has rejected this responsibility. Instead, it has adopted a politically correct orthodoxy that values “tolerance” of non-Western cultures above any objective search for truth. The mere suggestion that the jihadists’ hatred for us is rooted in the Qur’an and other fundamental Islamic texts is simply not tolerated in academia. As a result, many American citizens as well as policy makers continue to cast about in vain for a way to satisfy our enemies’ grievances.