In “UCLA’s Professor of Fantasy” in the American Thinker, December 24, Cinnamon Stillwell and Eric Golub expose one of the most egregious academic liars and Islamic apologists on the scene today: Khaled Abou El Fadl, who a few years back said he was willing to “risk his reputation” on his prediction that there would be anti-Muslim hate crimes because of the Crusades movie Kingdom of Heaven (there weren’t, of course; so much for his reputation):
The Center for Near Eastern Studies (CNES) at the University of California, Los Angeles and the UCLA School of Law’s Journal for Islamic and Near Eastern Law co-sponsored a lecture (podcast available here) last month by Khaled Abou El Fadl, chair of the Islamic Studies Interdepartmental Program, with the vague title “Shari’ah Watch: A View from the Inside.”
The flyer for the lecture promised “an informed discussion about Shariah and its role and impact in the West,” yet Abou El Fadl delivered neither. Instead, his audience of 35 — comprising mostly seniors and left-wing students — witnessed a meandering, repetitive lecture that had little or nothing to do with the stated premise. Indeed, despite acknowledging the growth of Westerners’ interest in Shariah in the wake of 9/11, Abou El Fadl expressed surprise that an intelligent person would find it a remotely interesting topic: “It’s exciting for me, but it’s rarely exciting for people who do not relish medieval legal discourses … to say the least it’s a rather odd position to suddenly find Shariah jumping into public discourses in the West.”
What is odd is why more Middle East studies professors don’t relish the opportunity to condemn the medieval practices sanctioned by Shariah — stonings, beheadings, honor killings, and execution for apostasy, for starters.
Instead, Abou El Fadl spent over fifteen minutes describing alleged acts of violence worldwide against Muslims by non-Muslims, a trend he ascribed to “the effect of the Islamophobic hate tract.”
When he did get around to discussing Shariah, it was only to claim that its detractors were motivated by bigotry:
We look at the history of anti-Islamic discourse, particularly in my field, a discourse in which Shariah is flattened to be a symbol of barbarism. … This is what Edward Said responded to in his famous book, Orientalism. I describe it as a civil anti-Muslim discourse.
Actually, most of its critics merely want to stay alive, for it turns out that barbarism does indeed come with the territory.
In what would come to constitute the bulk of his lecture, Abou El Fadl launched into a litany against what he called a “frenzy of self-appointed experts” — individuals who have dared to criticize Shariah and who have opposed its implementation in the West:
[There is] a battle over the authority, legitimacy — in academia, especially — over who gets to speak for Shariah in the West. … The various discourses that we find from the Steven Emersons, the Robert Spencers, the Daniel Pipes, countless ‘watch’ folks, the Jihad Watch folks — various pseudo-experts on whatever they wish to be experts on. … The idea is these people [Muslims] don’t even respect each other’s lives, so how can you expect them to respect anyone else’s life? Now this fundamental message of Islam, which is argued to have been from the start to this day: one can politely ignore it, but the fact remains that it is a violent, totalitarian, dominating ideology.
In fact, it’s the apologist discourse emanating from the Abou El Fadls of the world that is the “dominating ideology” in universities across the country.
Abou El Fadl then proceeded to examine quotes by writers he believes exemplifies this alarming “discourse” and to which he attributed “serious consequences” and “challenges to the post-humanist ethos.” They included Bruce Bawer, Michael Savage, Mark Steyn, Glenn Beck, and, again, Islam scholar Robert Spencer, who, El Fadl claimed:
[j]ust made $4,000,000 dollars last year. … A lecture like this with him would cost the sponsors $10,000. Islam bashing is very lucrative. Shariah bashing … is also extremely lucrative.
To make $4,000,000 at $10,000 per speech would require four hundred speeches per year. When contacted by the authors for comment, Spencer confirmed that “I have never made $4,000,000 in a year, or anything close to it. I have never charged $10,000 for a talk, or anything close to it. Khaled Abou El Fadl is lying outright.”
This statement points to Abou El Fadl’s making things up — shocking behavior for a professor of law at a leading research university. And it didn’t stop there. Abou El Fadl went on to paraphrase a quote from one of Spencer’s books:
Spencer summed it up: ‘Sure, there are violent quotes in the Bible, but the difference is Muslims don’t have an interpretative tradition.’ … But that’s what being a Shariah scholar is all about: an interpretative tradition.
To which Spencer has responded:
I never said that. I said that they don’t have an interpretative tradition that mitigates the literal force of the Qur’anic verses inciting to violence. Obviously they have an interpretative tradition; I discuss it at length in several books.
Daniel Pipes responds here, and says that Stillwell and Golub “pay particular attention to Abou El Fadl’s false statements about Robert Spencer and Steven Emerson – that’s the ‘fantasy’ in the title. His falsehoods about them are so egregious, they deserve to get Abou El Fadl sacked.”