After receiving $20 million from Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University has been renamed the Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. According to this article, “The Center’s leaders say it now will be used to put on workshops regarding Islam, fostering exchanges with the Muslim world, addressing U.S. policy towards the Muslim world, working on the relationship of Islam and Arab culture, addressing Muslim citizenship and civil liberties, and developing exchange programs for students from the Muslim world.”
Why, it sounds as though the activities it plans are no different from those of the State Department or, more generally, the idiotized and paralyzed American government: explaining and explaining away Islam through the “workshops” and “fostering exchanges” and “working on relationships” and “addressing Muslim citizenship and civil liberties.” Would that include discussing the relation of Islam and the conceivable loyalty of Muslims to the American Constitution and especially to the Bill of Rights?
Every single item is transparent. Every single one, phrased so innocuously, is full of promised threats to the legal and political institutions of this country, to its social understandings and arrangements, to the harmony of its society. That goes for everything advocated by the sinister Esposito and his handmaids (Voll, Haddad, and so on) and his Saudi backers, all smiles in official Washington (from the now-banished tennis-playing Aspen-Xanadu’ed Prince Bandar, to the gravel-voiced Al-Turki who replaced him) and all daggers and dishdashas and the sneer of cold command at home. For at home all the masks kept on in front of the powerful Infidels of Washington are torn off, just the way Muslim women can tear off, at home, the clothes they wear when they go outside.
Who could object to such a list of goals, all carefully crafted to appear to be aimed at greater “dialogue” and harmony?
Who could object?
Everyone who has begun to look around the world, and trusted the evidence of his senses, including the sensorium of his mind, could.
Will the Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding deal with any questions of substance? Here’s a proposal for them: Islam is the original creator of “the Other.” Indeed, through all of Islam runs the clear distinction, to be found running thread-like through Qur’an, Haidth, and Sira, of the clear distinction, and opposition, between Believer and Unbeliever, Muslim and Infidel. If ever there were a belief-system, or a civilization, that relied so completely on, and constantly reinforced, the idea of “the Other,” that belief-system is Islam.
Will the Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding dare to present a symposium on “The ‘Other’ In Islam”? Perhaps it is now time to call for papers on this topic. But who will do the calling?
You do it, you who secretly agree with so much of what you read here, yet are also worried, as a member of MESA Nostra, of what happens if you dare to express your real thoughts. Go ahead. Take a stand. Make a statement. Shake things up. Show Cole, Khalidi, Anderston, Esposito that you too are fed up with them and the nonsense they have peddled and the embarrassment they have caused to real students of the Middle East — all of whom must, of course, understand the tenets, the attitudes, the atmospherics of Islam. There is not a single question, political, cultural, economic, literary, in the entire Middle East that does not, in some way, relate to Islam.
So why is Islam the subject that, in any serious way, is completely ignored at meetings of MESA Nostra? Why will such a symposium never be held at the Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding?
We know why. But let’s pretend we don’t. So here’s what some one should do (yes, first ask the government or a foundation for a nice grant — without which no thoroughly modern academic would think of opening a book, or putting fingers to keyboard, or even trying to ponder a matter).
Call for Papers:
Islam and “The Other.” Ever since its creation out of pagan Arab lore, Judaism, and Christianity, in the seventh or eighth centuries, Islam has — as a belief-system that came into being at the very time that Arab tribesmen were conquering far more advanced, settled, wealthier populations of Christians and Jews in Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt, and North Africa — served to both justify, and promote, such conquest.
Scholars are invited to submit papers to Professors Ibn Warraq and Ali Sina.
The meeting will be held in the Mutanabbi Room at the Ramadan Inn, in Fairfax, Virginia, where MESA Nostra traditionally holds its meetings. Metal detectors will be functioning appropriately. Participants will be supplied with Kevlar helmets and jackets for use both during, and after, their presentations, and members of the D. C. police force, as well as a contingent of Marines, will be available to escort participants back to their hotels or other undisclosed locations.
This should provide the opportunity for a fruitful and useful scholarly exchange.
All are welcome to send their proposals for papers. Death threats will, however, be forwarded to the F.B.I.