Possibly the scandal of Esposito can be brought to the attention of the Vatican. Possibly the Vatican can persuade the administration at Georgetown to sever all ties with the “Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.” Esposito would still have his Saudi money and his lecture fees. He would still be lean, mean, jogging about, the man who seldom even puts in an appearance any more at the office. But at least the Georgetown prestige would no longer rub, wrongly, off onto him. He would simply be alone, with his “Center.”
Surely someone on the Georgetown faculty, or in the Catholic hierarchy, or among powerful lay Catholics, can get the ball rolling on this.
As to the shoddiness of his scholarship — well, forget about it. Margoliouth and Schacht have recently been reprinted. Antoine Fattal’s book on the legal status of non-Muslims under Islam never went out of print. K. S. Lal is easily obtained. Tritton, Arthur Jeffery, Armand Abel, Charles-Emmanuel Bousquet, Snouck Hurgronje — they are all about to be reprinted, at least in relevant part. Of course, don’t think for a minute that Esposito, or any of his crew, are familiar with any of these great scholars, and dozens more. They’ve probably never read them. They seem actually to believe that the only person to have written about dhimmitude (though her work is profound, she recognizes that it also makes use of the previous work of dozens of other scholars) is Bat Ye’or, whom they like to airily dismiss as “polemical” so that they will not have to confront her meticulous, scrupulous, and irrefutable scholarship.
If ever that silly bumpersticker “Question Authority” was appropriate, it is in relation to the likes of Esposito, and Michael Sells, and tutti quanti. Whether on the take, or simply ill-informed, or lazy, or stupid, or some combination, they are guides to nothing and to nowhere. But their books could be given as incentives to those who sign up for Al-Jazeera on cable — the perfect coffee-table accompaniment to so many of its programs.
Here is what I put up January 10, 2005:
That the Administration at Georgetown, that the Georgetown alumni, have not yet realized what damage an institutional connection between Esposito’s “Center” and Georgetown is doing to the image, and name, of the latter, is a pity. When the Administration, and other faculty, perhaps prompted by expressions of alumni displeasure, do come to their senses, one hopes that all institutional ties between Georgetown and Esposito’s Center, which benefits so much from the legitimacy conferred by the name “Georgetown,” will be severed.
Perhaps a good place to begin is for the President and Trustees and alumni of Georgetown to educate themselves by reading, and assimilating, the articles on Islam by a real scholar at Georgetown — Professor James V. Schall, S. J.
Professor Schall is neither an Arab hireling, nor an apologist for Islam, nor a sycophantic supporter of Muslim causes, nor a recipient of Arab Muslim support, and lionizing. For James V. Schall, S. J. answers to a Higher Authority, and has no truck with an Arab tycoon in Beirut, a Hamas-supporter in London, or a gaggle of Saudi princelings, all daggers-and-dishdashas, with their sneers of cold command, performing some celebratory dance in Riyadh and Jeddah.
I hope that James V. Schall, S.J. is thinking about this, and that John Allen is thinking about this, and Sandro Magister, and others who can get, somehow, to the upper regions of the Vatican, to call attention to this agent of Islam — for what else should we call him? — who is battening on the Georgetown name.
In World War II, anyone who had the kind of connections and “friends” among Nazis or Nazi sympathizers that Esposito does among the supporters of terrorist groups would have lost his job.
John Esposito, however, has not been stripped of his Saudi-supplied wealth; nor has he lost his job. No, instead he has been invited by the Department of Homeland Security to address one of the meetings it has organized in New Jersey. One’s worst suspicions about the DHS, and about who is doing what in our government, appear to be justified. Those suspicions not allayed by reports from within the Pentagon about Muslim officers and aides swaggering about, or Pentagon officials who continue to be taken for “briefings” on Islam with John Esposito. We will have to find those who are just as alarmed, but are capable — in Congress or the Executive branch — of doing something about it. The Saudi lobby is very powerful; there is nothing else like it.