I have received a most indignant email from a young lady purporting to be a student of the illustrious Dr. Omid Safi of Colgate University. Given the rather sorry state of its grammar and syntax, I rather hope that it doesn’t actually come from someone who sits at the feet of the great Safi himself, but I have no way of knowing for sure. It is reproduced below exactly as I received it, with comments from me.
My fellow students and I are getting sick and tired of your constant insults on Mr. Omid Safi.
For those of you who are just joining our program, a recap: Omid Safi teaches at Colgate U a course called “Islam and modernity.” In April 2004 I posted about it here, noting it as an example of how indoctrination and propaganda have replaced genuine intellectual inquiry in our nation’s universities, and particularly in the Middle Eastern Studies departments. Why? Because my man Omid included me in a list of “Islamophobes,” from which his hapless students had to choose one to write a paper about. He didn’t give them the opportunity to allow them to consider the arguments of these “Islamophobes” in and of themselves — he did his students’ thinking for them.
Omid eventually got wind of my posting here and we had a series of exchanges. In the course of this exchange, Omid impugns (of course) my knowledge of Islam, my good will, my overall motives, and my basic decency as a human being. All I did in response was point out that with his little enemies’ list he was acting as a propagandist, not a scholar. And I confess, I made a little fun of his pomposity and arrogance.
Yesterday I linked to these posts in a posting about a puff piece on Omid. That’s what evidently constitutes my “constant insults on Mr. Omid Safi.” If he had engaged my work critically and come up with honest criticisms of it, we might have had a basis for a fruitful dialogue. If he had ignored it, I never would have written a word about him. But since he started out with namecalling, well, our love affair just got off on the wrong foot.
He is a great teacher and the nicest person Ive ever met.
Jeepers! Ever? Hey Omid, I think this girl has, er, a little crush on you!
Ive never met or not would I like, put anyone who dedicates themselves to insulting another person’s religion and launching personal attacks on people, isnt the person you want to be around.
I am not quite sure what “Ive never met or not would I like, put anyone…” means, but I am fairly sure that I am being accused here of “insulting another person’s religion and launching personal attacks on people.” But I doubt that this young lady could find any instances in which I actually insult “another person’s religion.” I am a foe of Islamic jihad violence and terror, and I have spoken and written forthrightly about the words and deeds of jihad terrorists, and the contents of the Islamic texts that inspire them. If that is “insulting another person’s religion,” then I plead guilty. But I do not think it is. Insulting another person’s religion would be to say something like “You guys worship an elephant? That’s stupid!” Or “You think God takes on the form of bread? You ninny!” No one can produce a statement like that from me in reference to Islam, because I have never made one. As for “launching personal attacks on people,” remember: I am not the launcher. That would be your man Omid.
Religious study isnt the subject where you just wake up one morning and decide to start reading a religious text.
Duly noted. I’ll start in the evening from now on.
Can I become a doctor by just reading a medical book? Where were you educated at in this field?
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and after that on my own. I make no secret of that, or any apology for it. If I expected readers to accept what I say simply because it is I who say it, this young lady would have a case. But I do not. Every book I have ever published has been painstakingly footnoted, full of abundant references to primary Islamic texts and other key sources. Why? So that readers can check my work and decide for themselves. I was recently contacted by a philosophy professor who had done just that — gone back to all my sources to verify my contentions, and had found to his amazement that what I was saying was true.
If this young lady had had the opportunity to get a real education, she might know that the argument from authority is the weakest of all arguments. And if she had troubled to read anything I have written, she might know that never once have I relied on that argument from authority — in sharp contrast to my man Omid.
Mr. Safi is a brilliant lesson planner which challenge you academically, socially, and mentally.
A brilliant lesson planner! Wow! I am indeed awestruck by the prospect of a man whose lesson plans gleam thus, but I must point out that in fact Omid does not challenge me, not in any way. He puts me under his microscope but takes umbrage when I talk back from the slide. He has haughtily refused my offers to talk it over. Obviously if I am truly the bumbling, hateful idiot he makes me out to be, he ought to take the challenge, wax me, and be done with it. He could even sell the videotapes. But as it stands, I am the one “which challenge” him. And he has declined the challenge.
He doesn’t “white wash” Islam and breaks down each religion to its core.
Zowie! To its core, without whitewash? And let me ask you this: how many professors of Islam besides Omid have you had? (Academically.) How many books about Islam besides Omid’s and the ones he assigned have you read? (In the evening, of course, not the morning.) In other words, how exactly would you know if he is applying whitewash to the core or not? He don’t have to wear overalls to do it.
We dont think for him, his lessons speak for themselves.
Indeed they do. That’s what worries me. I am aware that you don’t think for him, but I wish you would. A little thinking would help the situation. Maybe you could think about why a Muslim, Stephen Schwartz, was included on a list of “Islamophobes,” with an explanatory note added only after I pointed out the absurdity of this. You might also wish to think about whether the things that Patricia Crone, Samuel Huntington, and Bernard Lewis have in common with Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are really the most important aspects of their work. And you might think about whether it is possible that any of the people on Omid’s enemies list might have valid points to make, and whether or not Omid is prejudicing you against them by calling them names at the outset. But don’t do all this thinking for Omid; do it for yourself.
He never said anything negative or hateful about anyones religion.
Righto, luv. He said plenty that was negative and hateful, however. Or do you not find his little list “unrepentant Orientalists, outright Islamophobes, Neo-conservatives, Western Triumphalists, right-wing Christian Evangelicals, etc.” pejorative?
You are a fraud Mr. Robert “great scholar without any formal training” Spencer.
What are you talking about? I wouldn’t even think of reading a book except in the most formal proper eveningwear (never in the morning, I know, I know). Why, I am in my white kid gloves, white tie and tails as we speak — I was just checking on a few things in the Qur’an.
What’s that? That’s not what you meant? You mean, I have no knowledge of how to study the sacred texts properly? Oh, I see. And I suppose that all the Muslims around the world who see in the Qur’an marching orders to commit violence today have had this training? For I am merely reporting on their usage. If Omid really wants to stamp out that sort of thing, let him refute things like this from Zarqawi. He’s the one making arguments from Qur’an and Sunnah, not me. Am I to be disbelieved because I don’t have a PhD when I read Zarqawi’s letter and tell people what’s in it?
Aside from that, I addressed this above: let Omid refute what I say about Islam, if he can (and he can’t). So far his argument against me boils down to the fact that he has one more degree than I do. That proves nothing: I know lots of dolts with PhDs. I don’t have one because I chose not to get one: I saw in 1986 that the field was becoming irredeemably politicized, and it has only gotten worse. Omid is a prime example. He can hide behind his degree all he wants, but that doesn’t really prove me wrong.
Did he insult you? He called you and your peers an “anti muslim”. Did that hurt your feelings? For a man whose sole purpose in life is to preach hate and associate himself with people who WOULD SUPPORT VIOLENCE AGAINST MUSLIMS, you really are a sensitive dude.
Yeah, I am a sensitive dude. You got me all choked up now, young lady. My sole purpose in life is to preach hate? Please supply one sentence, one paragraph — anything — that I have ever written that does so. Take your time. I’ll be right here. And I associate myself with “people who WOULD SUPPORT VIOLENCE AGAINST MUSLIMS,” do I? Now, did Omid tell you that? Because if he did, he might really start to get me peeved, I don’t mind telling you. Bring your proofs, if you be truthful. Tell me who it is with whom I am associated who would support violence against Muslims. You can’t, because there are no such people associated with me. I have no control over the dweebs who come to my site and post violence — when I see their posts I remove them — any more than I have any control over the Islamic apologists who come to my site and post silly justifications for terror.
You’re the laughing stock of the scholarly world.
You know, I am really starting to weep copiously now. Yes, it’s true. I’m ruining my eveningwear. To think: a self-important gang of fakes, hacks, Marxist leftovers, counterculture casualties, graying hippies, and apologists for terror are…laughing at me! I feel like Sally Brown giving her report before her class! I…I just can’t take it…
Mr. Safi often quotes you haters and its really funny how narrow minded you are all. You all portray yourselves as these great saviors who are on the course to save humanity, like ur freakin Batman or something.
I love this! Hey everybody, I’m Freakin Batman!
Mr. Omid’s silence shows how much character he has and ur insults show how pathetic you are. You people label all who disagree with you as “Islamists” and when someone tells the truth about you, you get ticked.
Yeah, “Mr. Omid” has been reaaalll silent, as he continues to teach his course in smear propaganda, he’s just quiet as a mouse. But again, he is the one doing the labeling, not me. If you knew anything about me at all, you would know that I eschew the word “Islamist.” Anyway, I ain’t ticked. Not a-tall. I am just over here still ready for the Illustrious One to tell me that he Now Deigns to Mop the Floor with me in a debate. But I know he won’t. I know Omid likes Bob Dylan, so here’s one you can give him: “Omid, don’t ask me nothin’ about nothin’, I just might tell you the truth.”
Is your word God???
No, the Word is my God.
I know you people are experts on twisting the truth. Mr. Safi urged us not to contact with you ppl but I really needed to get this off my mind.
Oh, come on, Omid, let them write! Let a hundred flowers bloom!
And a hearty “:)” to you too.