Now that we have launched our Send Us Your Syllabus project, it is useful to recall how it all came about. Carl Ernst’s mention of Jihad Watch and of Robert Spencer is an obvious attempt, of course, to preempt those of his students who might, just might, on their own find out about this site, which is highly dangerous, “subversive” in the best sense, of the likes of Carl Ernst and of MESA Nostra (see here, here, and here for information about MESA Nostra). By mentioning it, and then by undercutting it as best he can, Ernst hopes to somehow neutralize the effect of what that site contains, and the other information about Islam — books, articles, websites run by former Muslims — that might, shall we say, “confuse” his students and knock them off the True Path, fi sabil Ernst or fi sabil Safi or fi sabil Khalidi, Dabashi, you name it.
In this respect he is doing exactly as any propagandist — not someone seeking the truth but seeking to suppress the truth — would do: trying to keep within narrow bounds what those whose minds he is attempting to mold can find out about. What is fantastic is the amount of success that such people have had in universities, not only those who are at Arab-funded “Centers” as at Exeter and Durham in England (where they carefully vet the faculty and the courses, and drive out any of those, such as Denis MacEoin, who dared to tell the truth), or at strategically-located Georgetown, that has not one but two such “Centers.”
One of them, smack in the middle of Washington, is John Esposito’s Arab-funded fiefdom, started with seed money from a Lebanese islamochristian contractor and now financed by the Gulf Arabs and the Saudis, that “Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding” where lean, mean, jogging John Esposito churns out the coffee-table books, full of pretty pictures of blue mosques and turbaned Turks and Iznik tiles that get you so that you forget to ask that question you were meaning to ask (what was it again? Oh yes, “well, what about Islam?”), so dazzled are you by the couleur locale and easy appeal-to-the-eye of those photographs. And then there are his “scholarly” contributions (The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?), about which the less said the better.
And cheek by sagging jowl to Esposito’s operation is another “Center” that drapes itself in the Georgetown colors: that Arab (mostly Kuwaiti, I believe) funded “Center for Contemporary Arab Studies,” where goodsir Michael Hudson, and a Khalidi or two, and others have done their bit to make sure that no one figures out that the most important thing to know about, when discussing the Middle East or Arabs, is Islam, Islam, Islam. Its texts. Its tenets. Its attitudes. Its atmospherics. No, you won’t hear about that, you lazy Congressional aide, calling up the “Center” for advice on something to do with the Middle East. Nor will that equally lazy journalist, or that anti-Israel journalist (who could we have in mind? Novak? Georgie Anne Geyer? There are so many to choose from) who wants a nice quote to stick into his story that will buttress his slant, his transparent prejudices.
It was the same when Martin Kramer’s devastating little book on the state of play in Middle Eastern studies came out, Ivory Towers On Sand. This short book was going, intelligent apologists for Islam knew, to find its way into the hands of graduate students, certainly, and possibly into the hands of the cleverer undergraduates as well. Oh dear. What could be done? So they began to do what Roger Owen, once a “well-known PLO groupie” (J. B. Kelly’s description of him to me) and lowly lecturer of some sort or another at St. Antony’s, who somehow — god knows how — managed to get to Harvard, and even to become that appetizing thing, the “A. J. Meyer Professor of Middle Eastern Economics” (according to Kelly, author of “Arabia, the Gulf, and the West,” A. J. Meyer was nothing to write home about either, on his supposed specialty of “Middle Eastern Economics”), with that plush chair funded by…well, who do you think might have funded such a chair? What Arab government? Or what oil company, intent on currying favor with the Saudis and others? Go ahead, find out by calling Harvard and let’s put the results right here, shall we? Owen cleverly assigned Kramer’s text. He assigned it but made sure it was attacked in a hundred undercutting ways, using not a sword but rather a bare bodkin, inserted here, and here, and here, and here.
Carl Ernst isn’t quite as clever as Roger Owen. But he’s trying. He’s giving it the old college try.
Meanwhile, let’s all listen to that “Varsity Drag.”