Because to have done otherwise would have been “Islamophobic.” “How radical Islam seduced the academics: The Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab case highlights the pusillanimity of those who should be confronting extremism,” by Nick Cohen in The Observer, October 10 (thanks to all who sent this in):
A few months ago, I sat in a magnificent Victorian lecture hall at University College London. It was once one of finest centres of intellectual inquiry in Europe, thanks to the efforts of its founder, the sternly anti-clerical philosopher Jeremy Bentham. It did not take me long to realise that fear of clerical fascism had led Bentham’s trembling successors to abandon intellectual inquiry and basic intellectual standards along with it.
I had come along with hundreds of others because, on Christmas Day 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a former UCL student, tried to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear and kill the 278 passengers and crew on Northwest Airlines’ flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. After such a narrow escape from mass murder, I thought that no one could deny that the universities needed to confront campus sectarianism. I reckoned without the limitless capacity for self-delusion of British academe.
By the time UCL organised a public debate on the Abdulmutallab affair, reporters had established that the Nigerian student had lost himself in London’s political netherworld, where the white far left meets the religious far right. As president of UCL Islamic Society, Abdulmutallab had presided over an “antiterror week”, which featured a promotional video of clips of violence, accompanied by hypnotic music. The film-maker had inserted footage of George Galloway saying the west believed Palestinian blood was cheaper than Israeli blood, and Amnesty International’s latest pin-up, Moazzam Begg, alleging the Americans tortured him at GuantÃ¡namo Bay.
“When we sat down, they played a video that opened with shots of the Twin Towers after they’d been hit, then moved on to images of mujahideen fighting, firing rockets in Afghanistan,” one member of the audience told the New York Times. “It was quite tense in the theatre, because I think lots of people were shocked by how extreme it was. It seemed to me like it was brainwashing, like they were trying to indoctrinate people.”
The London Times found that one cleric who had lectured the UCL Islamic Society was on record as saying of the Jews (inevitably): “They’re all the same. They’ve monopolised everything: the Holocaust, God, money, interest, usury, the world economy, the media, political institutions… they monopolised tyranny and oppression as well.” Alongside the racism came the concomitant sexism, homophobia and hatred of the western world. Channel 4, for instance, had caught another visiting imam on camera saying that the testimony of women was worth half that of a man. As for gays, he added: “Do you practise homosexuality with men? Take that homosexual man and throw him off the mountain.”
You might have thought that in light of the above, academics would have wanted to protect their students. In particular, they should have wanted to protect Muslim students from going the way of Abdulmutallab.
Instead of facing the problem squarely, they pretended it did not exist. Philippe Sands, a law professor who is always alleging that Tony Blair is a “criminal” for overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s genocidal tyranny, appeared undisturbed by the existence of actual criminals among his university’s alumni. He didn’t want to spy or snoop on his students, he said, and did not see why anyone should want him to. Other speakers followed the example set by the UCL’s provost, Malcolm Grant, and avoided discussing extremism in the university by the shabby trick of denouncing those who wanted to talk about it as “Islamophobes”….
Of course! What else could they be? Maybe…people who wouldn’t like to see another plane blown out of the sky, as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to do? Naaah!