Pamela Geller and I are catching hell all over for criticizing the Perry/Aga Khan curriculum about Islam in Texas schools, but here's the thing: the material that David Stein and the Ace of Spades blog are quoting as the Perry/Aga Khan curriculum is not actually part of the curriculum at all.
Ace of Spades is one of those juvenile, leering fratboy blogs that has never appealed to me. The first time this was sent to me, I took a look, saw how inaccurate, fact-free, and contemptuous (to say nothing of contemptible) the presentation was, and hadn't intended to reply. Ace can't even spell Pamela Geller's name right. But as the strange attempt to shut down all skepticism about Rick Perry continues, and people keep sending Ace's post to me, and pointing out that it is being picked up all over, so here goes. And Pamela Geller smacks down Ace here. "So.... Yeah... The New Smear Is That Rick Perry Is a Dhimmi, Huh?," from Ace of Spades, August 26 (thanks to all who sent this in):
Pam Gellar [sic], relying on a hot tip from, um, Salon, thinks Rick Perry's a dhimmi.
Salon did report on Perry's connection to the Aga Khan. But the Perry bots keep breathlessly repeating that "Geller relied on Salon!" as if Salon's hard-Left pseudo-journalist Justin Elliott were the only source for the connection between Perry and the Aga Khan. Unfortunately, that is not the case; if it were, the Perry/Aga Khan ties could easily be dismissed as Leftist propaganda. But they can't, and Ace and the others who try to dismiss or downplay the Perry/Aga Khan ties by saying that Geller got it from Salon know they can't -- there are too many other sources besides Salon. So why do they keep bringing up Salon? To manipulate you into thinking that Leftist propaganda is all there is to this. In playing that kind of shell game, they're no better than the Center for American Progress.
Ace is mightily enthused about David Stein's purported refutation of the problems that Pamela Geller and I have raised about Perry, and to which I responded in part here. Ace calls it "the greatest rejoinder in the history of blogdom." It is, in fact, considerably less than that; if Ace had done anything more than take it at face value and accept its claims uncritically, he would have discovered that quickly.
Ace claims that Stein has shown that "the 'dhimmi' curriculum that was actually produced by Texas teachers consulting with Aga Khan is...going to hurt Perry, because this is so biased against Muslims it will reinforce perceptions he is some kind of rootin'-tootin' six-gun shooting cowboy yahoo."
One very odd thing about the Aga Khan/Perry curriculum: since this whole brouhaha started, it has been taken offline. It is now available only in cached form here. Why was it taken down? Was the Perry camp embarrassed by the material that Pamela Geller published here, showing it to be a whitewash of Islamic teaching and history? Or was it taken down because it really is, as Ace says, so "biased against Muslims it will reinforce perceptions [Perry] is some kind of rootin'-tootin' six-gun shooting cowboy yahoo"?
Is either option favorable to Perry? If it was taken down because it's a dhimmi whitewash, Perry is tacitly admitting that our criticisms of him were right, and those evaluating Perry should be concerned about his naivete in dealing with the Aga Khan. If it was taken down because it was too honest about Islam and will thus hurt Perry with the dhimmi/Norquist faction of the GOP, Perry is again tacitly admitting that our criticisms of him were right: he is not able or willing to stand up to Norquist and his Islamic supremacist allies. So which is it? What are they hiding? And does it matter? Either way, the deep-sixing of the curriculum proves that we were right about Perry all along.
Ace gets his information from David Stein here. And indeed, the material that Stein presents, and Ace republishes, seems to be great. It speaks honestly about Islamic conquests: "From its early days, Islam reacted aggressively toward its civilized neighbors the Byzantines and the West." It notes that "while Westerners studied Islamic culture, Muslims showed almost no interest in Western culture, remaining ignorant of modernity and its impact."
It even seems to expose Islamic hatred of Israel: "The conflict continues because the West, and the United States specifically, support Israel (an outpost of Western Civilization surrounded by Islamic Civilization), which Muslims generally dislike or hate. Islamic enmity toward Israel is complicated, but hatred of Jews and Israel can be traced at least to the success of Nazi anti-Jewish propaganda starting in 1933."
But Ace is wildly overstating his case when he says, in his typical half-witted beer swiller's lingo, "Are you shitting me? Gellar's attacking this? This reads like her fucking blog for fuck's sake. In Texas, they're fucking reading 'Atlas Shrugs' to the kids, and Geller's complaining. Maybe it's because she thinks she's owed royalties."
Ace clearly doesn't know the first, foggiest thing about Islam; after all, it's not the name of a porn mag or a brand of beer. If he did, he would recognize that the claim that "Islamic enmity toward Israel is complicated, but hatred of Jews and Israel can be traced at least to the success of Nazi anti-Jewish propaganda starting in 1933" is itself a whitewash. Islamic antisemitism didn't begin in 1933 or come from the Nazis; it's as old as Islam itself, going back to the Qur'an's designation of the Jews as the worst enemies of the Muslims (5:82) and Muhammad's exiles and massacres of the Jews of Arabia. See a full discussion of this question here.
Why does this matter? It's misleading. If you think that Islamic antisemitism is something they picked up from the Nazis after centuries of Islamic tolerance (more on that later), one will tend to think that it is something that is carried lightly among the opponents of Israel, and can be reasoned or negotiated away. This will lead one to support political solutions for the Israeli/Palestinian conflict like land-for-peace that not only cannot and will not work, but weaken Israel.
Ace doesn't know anything about Pamela Geller, either, or he would know that she has written about the Qur'anic roots of Islamic antisemitism, and so would recognize that bit about the Nazis making the Muslims antisemitic as a whitewash, also.
This supposedly tough part of the Perry/Aga Khan curriculum, which you can find in full at this cached link here, is actually not at all the Islamorealistic presentation that Ace and Stein claim it to be. It does contain the material that they quote, but note that in all that, and in all the rest of it, there is absolutely nothing about the Qur'an's or Muhammad's exhortations to violence.
Again, why does that matter? Because if you don't identify the root of the problem correctly, you will continually apply the wrong remedies. The idea that Islam is a Religion of Peace that has been hijacked by a tiny minority of extremists has led the U.S. to all sorts of policy errors, foreign and domestic: pouring billions in Pakistan, supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, treating stateside Islamic supremacist groups with ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood as neutral civil rights organizations, etc. If the exhortations to violence and subjugation of unbelievers under Sharia that are contained in Islamic texts and teachings were acknowledged in the public sphere, Muslim groups in the U.S. could be challenged to show what they're doing to teach against such things, and investigated for sedition where appropriate. Instead, law enforcement and government officials constantly trust individuals and groups that are untrustworthy, because they don't understand the smooth ways in which they're being deceived.
Still, all in all, the material Stein presents on the curriculum is fairly good. But there is a curious thing: the picture one gets of curriculum from Geller and from Stein are wildly divergent. Stein claims that this is because Geller quotes from "brief summaries of lengthy training seminars," while he presented the "entire lesson plan." But that's not actually the case. Go to the cached link of the main page for the curriculum. It says this:
In April 2004, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) and UT-Austin finalized a grant proposal that created the partnership that became known as the Muslim Histories and Cultures Program (MHC). Much has happened since the inception of the partnership. Creation and implementation of a model was of prime importance. MHC recruited and directly trained 80 teachers affecting approximately 15,150 students of World History and World Geography in ten key Texas districts during the two sessions conducted in 2005 and 2006. The purpose is two-fold 1) to fulfill Governor Rick Perry's desire to better educate Texas teachers on Muslim topics and 2) to train teachers to use a cultural lens approach to understanding other cultures. Governor Perry was instrumental in getting this program off the ground.
It adds -- and note this well -- that "the curriculum for this project was developed at Harvard University and modified at the University of Texas at Austin." Now this is apparently referring to the curriculum for the training of the 80 teachers in the two sessions conducted in 2005 and 2006. And this material is very, very bad. It contains all the material Geller quoted, including a whitewash of Muslim Spain (debunked here) and the use of texts by the likes of Carl Ernst, John Esposito, and Michael Sells. Carl Ernst is the academic propagandist who actually traveled to Tehran in 2008 to accept an award from Iran's genocidally antisemitic President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. John Esposito is a Saudi-funded pseudo-academic who has cooked data about Islamic moderates. Michael Sells produced an edition of the Qur'an that left out all the violent and hateful bits. And they're by no means the only questionable authorities that this curriculum invokes.
But wait a minute. Remember, "the curriculum for this project was developed at Harvard University and modified at the University of Texas at Austin." But Stein claims to present "the curriculum that resulted from the Perry/Khan partnership," and specifically, "the lesson plan that deals with Islam and the West, past and present." Stein says that "the lesson plan was written by Ronald Wiltse," who is "a retired history teacher in San Antonio." But is Wiltse's lesson plan actually part of the Perry/Aga Khan curriculum at all? Only peripherally -- at best. Look back at the main cached page for the curriculum. It says that "MHC recruited and directly trained 80 teachers affecting approximately 15,150 students of World History and World Geography in ten key Texas districts during the two sessions conducted in 2005 and 2006," and that "the responsibilities of the participants are...to create lessons concerning Islamic topics with a 'cultural lens' approach tied to their grade level to share with other teachers."
That's where you find Wiltse's lesson plan: among the lesson plans developed by the 80 teachers who attended these sessions. In other words, the material David Stein and Ace are quoting as the Perry/Aga Khan curriculum is not actually part of the curriculum at all. What they're quoting is a lesson plan drawn up by one participant in the seminars that Perry and the Aga Khan sponsored in Texas -- this would be like quoting some high school kid's test answers and passing them off as the official curriculum of the school district. The material Geller quoted, on the other hand, with its multiple whitewashes of the Qur'an, Muhammad, and Islamic history, comes from the Harvard/University of Texas curriculum for the training of teachers using the Perry/Aga Khan material.
David Stein and Ace are selling the conservative blogosphere a bill of goods. They're quoting a supposedly tough, Islamorealistic lesson plan (that isn't actually all that tough or Islamorealistic in the first place) and passing it off as the official Perry/Aga Khan curriculum, when in fact, it is no more the official curriculum than a 9th grader's history paper is the official history curriculum for the school district.
Ace then turns to the Grover Norquist business. But here again, neither Ace nor the brains of the outfit, David Stein, deal with the fact that Norquist is clearly much closer to Perry than to other candidates. As I wrote here, "Perry and Grover Norquist held a joint press conference in March 2011. Perry appeared at a fund-raiser for Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform group. Also, Norquist actively campaigned for Perry back in 2009. Their association is longstanding: Perry was investigated by the Texas Ethics Commission in 2004 for allegations that the Governor illegally used campaign money to finance a trip to Bahamas; the point here is not the allegations, but the fact that along on the Bahamas trip at his own expense was Grover Norquist. Perry and Norquist are clearly not just casual acquaintances." In response, all Stein and Ace have done is point out that other candidates have worked with Norquist, too. Indeed. Which have fundraised for him? Which have vacationed with him? Any of them other than Perry? If so, I will criticize them for it as well.
Ace asks: "Ummm... we're not allowed to talk with Grover Norquist anymore, Pam? Can't sign his anti-tax pledges?" Actually, it's the other way around: is it really necessary to play ball with Norquist in order to come out for cutting taxes? Is there no candidate who will have the courage to endorse his tax policies but distance himself from him because of his Islamic supremacist ties?
But I am not asking these questions of Ace, who is demonstrably dishonest. Take this, for example:
Anyway, Stein at Counter-Contempt makes the point that if even Robert Spencer, gold-star anti-Jihadist, gave Aga Khan a clean bill of health and vouched for him, why should Rick Perry be blamed for similarly thinking he checked out?
Now, Aga Khan might actually still check out. There's no actual proof he doesn't. But let's say he does turn out to be just as Geller now alleges.
Stein asks Spencer, "How can you blame Perry for making the same error you did?" To which Spencer just says something like "He's the governor, he should have known."
Actually, I said "something like" this: "I am not entering into partnership with the Aga Khan. If I were, I would certainly vet him thoroughly first, and Perry should have." Is that "He's the governor, he should have known"? I guess for a guy like Ace, it's close enough.
Ace concludes: "This is anti-Jihadism quickly shading into anti-Americanism." So now it's "anti-American" to be skeptical about Rick Perry because he is too close to the Aga Khan and Grover Norquist? "Anti-American" to want to vet a candidate and not want the next president to have potentially compromising ties? Have another beer, Ace. Stick to what you're good at.
Meanwhile, Stein's bait-and-switch presentation on the Perry/Aga Khan curriculum has not just fooled a lout like Ace, but people who should know better, like Red State and the reliably dhimmi Commentary. Will they retract their contemptuous sneers and acknowledge they were working on false premises? I won't be holding my breath.