Last April I wrote here about a professor at Colgate University, Omid Safi, who in a fine example of how indoctrination and propaganda have replaced genuine intellectual inquiry, was requiring his students to write brief reports on a person selected from a list he provided, which he had labeled “Islamophobes, Neo-cons, Western triumphalists, etc.”
I wrote then about his propagandistically stacking the deck for his students with such labels, particularly when they are applied to such world-class scholars as Bat Ye’or and Samuel Huntington. I also took issue with his list for demeaning such scholars (which of course is what he intended to do) by lumping them together with political activists, journalists, etc., whose work is far more superficial. And for including a Muslim, Stephen Schwartz, on a list of “Islamophobes.”
Safi almost certainly saw my post, as several of his students contacted me indignantly not long after it went up, demonstrating their wholehearted acceptance of Safi’s propangandizing and their imperfect command of English (one remonstrated with me for calling Safi’s students “hapless” in the belief that this word meant “stupid,” when actually it means “luckless” or “unfortunate”).
However, the good professor is unrepentant: in the Spring 2005 version of this course, he has explained his inclusion of Schwartz in a footnote, and has expanded his broad-brush smear of his little enemies’ list: now the list, which is otherwise unchanged, is made up of “unrepentant Orientalists, outright Islamophobes, Neo-conservatives, Western Triumphalists, right-wing Christian Evangelicals, etc.”
Hmmm. “Unrepentant” Orientalists? Omid, my man, of what exactly do Orientalists such as Schacht, Wansbrough, Jeffrey, Muir, Margoliouth, Hughes and others have to repent? Telling the truth? Not confusing academic research with propagandistic indoctrination? Not considering Islam to be beyond criticism, particularly in the ways it incites people to violence and fanaticism?
And “outright” Islamophobes? Tell me, Omid: which person on your list is an “outright” Islamophobe? “Islamophobia” is a term invented by people trying to stifle uncomfortable questions about Islam; tell me, which one of your enemies willingly accepts this term?
You tell me, Omid. Last year, when I first became aware of your course, I offered to come to Colgate and have a public discussion with you. I’m still available; contact me at email@example.com.
Report on Islamohpobia [sic]:
You are each required to turn in a report on a significant person who contributes to a negative public presentation of Islam and/or Muslims; whose political views and/or scholarship shape how Islam is presented today. 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.:
Report: 4 pages. Include: a brief biography, intellectual history, and comments on Islam (and/or Middle East where relevant)
-1) Bernard Lewis, 2)Samuel Huntington, 3)Fouad Ajami, 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)Franklin Graham 20) Niall Ferguson 21) Robert Kagan 22) Dore Gold 23) Ibn Warraq
[*Stephen Schwartz directs his critique at the Wahhabis, and is affiliated with Sufism, but he has fully identified himself with Neo-con think tanks and political ambitions.]
UPDATE: I confess that I wrote all of the above without noticing that Safi has appended a lengthy piece entitled “Omid Safi comments on Islamophobia” mostly about me. He even quotes the April 11 post linked above in full, with comments, “before it can be taken down or altered.” (Don’t worry, Omid. I have no plans to do either.)
There is not much of substance in all of this beyond documentation — which he evidently thinks will be horrifying enough in itself to his students — that my books have been published by conservative publishers and I am affiliated with conservative organizations. Omid, I assure you: if I could interest any liberal groups in this struggle for our survival, I most certainly would. As I have said many times, the struggle against the global jihad is not a conservative or liberal issue, but a human rights issue. In the meantime, however, given the general indifference (at best) of the Left, I will get the word out any way I can.
Omid’s other points, and my comments:
1) Accusation of taqiyya: the notion that one is hiding one’s true belief to survive. This is a common accusation against many moderate and liberal Muslim thinkers, including Tariq Ramadan.
All right. But is it accurate? Is there not evidence of Salafis engaging in taqiyya? Does the fact that it’s a “common accusation” mean that it’s false? Omid, my man, surely even your undergraduates can see the holes in that one.
2) Accusation of dhimmitude: the notion that one seeks to create an Islamic state in which Jews and Christians would be second class citizens. There is no proof given, of course, on how one little professor at Colgate is going to create an Islamic state, of all places in the United States
Nice try, Omid, but your straw man here is simply absurd. I have never suggested that Omid Safi is trying to create an Islamic state. My April 11 post is headed “academic dhimmitude.” This refers to the fact that Safi is passing off propaganda as education, and making his students accept highly politicized and controvertible material as fact — notably, that Islam as a religion is peaceful and tolerant, just as the dhimmis of old had to sing the praises of Islam’s peacefulness and tolerance or risk forfeiting their contract of “protection.”
3) Look at the first question of the first comment: “Only one question: does he have tenure?” This can be taken as nothing other than an attempt to silence academic voices and discussions by threatening the source of their employment.
Absurd again. Comments are unmoderated, and I neither have nor claim any responsibility for them, but in this case I’ll reply. Safi here is using the tactic we have recently seen Ward Churchill and Shahid Alam use: claim that academic freedom is being threatened when all that is really being threatened is their professional irresponsibility and passing off of propaganda as fact. If Safi really believed in academic freedom, his course syllabus would not have an enemies list.
4) Without me asking them to, two of the students in the class, named Josh and Alyssa above, wrote back to contest Robert Spencer’s views. Their main point was that unlike Mr. Spencer, they had actually been in the class. Their objections are never acknowledged.
Omid, Omid, Omid. Do you expect your indoctrinees not even to read your own material? You posted the April 11 Dhimmi Watch post in full, in which I answer Josh and Alyssa not once, but several times. Come now, man! If you wanted to tell your students that I didn’t answer Josh and Alyssa, you shouldn’t have republished my answers!
5) Here is a bigger issue about who Robert Spencer is. Does he have a PhD in Islamic Studies? Is he teaching as an academic? Does he present his views at the American Academy of Religion, Middle East Studies Association, American Oriental Society, etc. (established, respected academic organizations that specialize in the study of Middle east, different religious traditions, etc.) Are his books published by academic publications? Answers are no, no, and again, no.
Right. And why don’t I do these things? Because the organizations you name are full of people who are not genuine academics, but ideologues who praise those who parrot their politics and savage those who don’t. Your presentation of my publishers’ (horror of horrors) conservative funding is evidence enough of the fact that you cannot deal with the substance of what I have said about Islam, but think it sufficient to press your followers’ ideological buttons.
One more thing: You say, “Once Carl Ernst pointed this the [sic] connections of Robert Spencer to consverative [sic] oganizations [sic], what was Robert Spencer’s response? To write a column called: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant: American prof’s book on Islam wins award in Cairo’”
Actually, I didn’t write that in response to Ernst. I hadn’t seen what Ernst wrote until tonight. But I’m glad you brought it up, Omid, because the Egyptian prize is just another indication of the high ideological coloring of both Ernst’s work and yours. It is more than absurd for you to quote Ernst saying that my books are “supported by specific political and ideological interests,” as if yours aren’t.
Bottom line, Omid: you can’t refute them. You can’t go into Islam Unveiled or Onward Muslim Soldiers and find anything inaccurate in them. So instead, you resort to dark mumblings about my “connections” and smears of “Islamophobia.”
This is what passes for higher education these days.