Friday, September 01, 2006

Academia, Islam, and Saudi money

Hat tip to Cox and Forkum for the cartoons. This may be the message they export to the US via the educational materials they create for Muslims worldwide, but it's hardly what they tell us to our faces. For Western schools and universities, they take a different approach in what we learn and know about Islam in Western academia.

Fjordman at the Brussels Journal published an interesting article on this very topic called "The Failure of Western Universities". It deals, in part, with the complete denial of Western Academia about the Islamic enemy we face (bold emphasis in the following quotes is mine):
...Bruce Lawrence, Duke professor of religion, has published a book of Osama bin Laden’s speeches and writings. “If you read him in his own words, he sounds like somebody who would be a very high-minded and welcome voice in global politics,” Lawrence said. Lawrence has also claimed that Jihad means “being a better student, a better colleague, a better business partner. Above all, to control one’s anger.”

Others believe we make too much fuss about this whole Jihad business. John Mueller, Professor of Political Science at Ohio State University, in the September 2006 issue of Foreign Affairs asked whether the terrorist threat to the USA had just been made up: “A fully credible explanation for the fact that the United States has suffered no terrorist attacks since 9/11 is that the threat posed by homegrown or imported terrorists – like that presented by Japanese Americans during World War II or by American Communists after it – has been massively exaggerated.” “The massive and expensive homeland security apparatus erected since 9/11 may be persecuting some, spying on many, inconveniencing most, and taxing all to defend the United States against an enemy that scarcely exists.” ...

Anything that doesn't fit into the leftist worldview is simply disregarded in academia. It's not suprising, given their leftist bias, but that alone is not the full story. Fjordman explains in detail, the influence of Saudi money to purchase and promote THEIR desired viewpoint of how we in the west should view and understand the Muslim world:

...It is difficult to understand why American or Western authorities still allow the Saudis to fund what is being taught about Islam to future Western leaders, years after several Saudi nationals staged the worst terror attack in Western history. The United States didn’t allow Nazi Germany to buy influence at US Universities. Although the Soviet Communists had their apologists in the West as well as paid agents, the US never allowed the Soviet Union to openly sponsor its leading colleges. So why are they allowing Saudi Arabia and other Islamic nations to do so? The Saudis are enemies, and should be banned from exerting direct influence over our Universities and major media. It is a matter of national security.

Still, although bribes and Saudi oil money represent a serious obstacle to critical Western studies of Islam, they do by no means make up all of the problems. Quite a few academics are so immersed with anti-Western ideology that they will be happy to bash the West and applaud Islam for free.

Few works have done more to corrupt critical debate of Islam in Western institutions for higher learning during the past generation than the 1979 book Orientalism by Edward Said. It spawned a veritable army of Saidists, or Third World Intellectual Terrorism as Ibn Warraq puts it. According to Ibn Warraq, “the latter work taught an entire generation of Arabs the art of self-pity – “were it not for the wicked imperialists, racists and Zionists, we would be great once more” – encouraged the Islamic fundamentalist generation of the 1980s, and bludgeoned into silence any criticism of Islam.”

“The aggressive tone of Orientalism is what I have called ‘intellectual terrorism,’ since it does not seek to convince by arguments or historical analysis but by spraying charges of racism, imperialism, Eurocentrism” on anybody who might disagree. “One of his preferred moves is to depict the Orient as a perpetual victim of Western imperialism, dominance and aggression. The Orient is never seen as an actor, an agent with free-will, or designs or ideas of its own.”...

The accusations of Saudi money buying influence at US univeristies is not rumor or speculation; the article gives many examples and instances. It's shocking. The leftist academics are only too eager to use anything available to bash our own culture and history, in order to promote their own agenda. Thus, any enemy of America is a friend of theirs; they can't see that they are cutting off the branch on which they are sitting.

Not everyone on the left is blind to this. Even some liberals understand the danger:

What It Means to Protect the Nation

... There is something terribly wrong with people seeking to demean and weaken the president in war time, thereby strengthening our country's enemies. As a result of the language and tactics of those opposed to our presence in Iraq, our enemies have been emboldened, believing the American public to be sharply divided on the war, and in fact at war with itself. To other countries, Americans appear pitted against one another not in an election, but in a verbal bloodbath, convincing the world we are impotent -- a paper tiger.

The tyrannical forces in Iran led by its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, make clear that if they can destroy us, they will. Ahmadinejad has said about the U.S., "...Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism? had best know that this slogan and this goal are attainable, and surely can be achieved..." Ahmadinejad has also stated his goal of destroying the state of Israel several times, saying, "...Israel must be wiped off the map."

If a sovereign nation makes such threats, do those who are threatened have to wait until the missiles are in the air before taking action? Or may threatened states defend themselves with preemptive action? ...

Even some Democrats like Ed Koch and Joe Lieberman can see the danger. Ahmadinejad has been amazingly blunt about his goals; he could hardly speak more plainly. Yet we still have academics and intellectuals telling us there is no danger, or if there is, it's greatly exagerated, because nobody else has died yet.

That last statment really gets to me. I worked in the field of security for 12 years. When we were doing our job properly, there were no problems, because we eliminated them before they became problems; that was our JOB. Yet, all too often, some idiot on the client's board of directors would start to complain that they were paying too much for security, and cuts needed to be made. Their reasoning? Why, there were no security problems; and in their minds, that meant security wasn't even needed very much. So then they would make their cuts. Then when the problems started, from the weaknesses THEY created, they would get angry and blame us, and the problems would continue until somebody smart enough to connect the dots would put things back right.

On a government scale, we see this dynamic in action too. The crime rates drop; politicians claim there is no need for such a large police force, because there is hardly any crime. They cut law enforcement jobs, and the crime rate shoots up. So another politician campaigns to increase law enforcement, wins (hopefully) and things get put back right.

It's time to put things back right in our universities, to bring some balance back, so they are more than just indoctrination centers for politically correct thinking, Multi-culturalism and it's related moral relativism.

Foreign powers like the Saudi's must not be allowed to buy influence and dictate what we teach in our schools. Fjordman's article, which is quite long, has many examples and embedded hyperlinks to support his contention that the Saudi's are exerting an enourmous influence on our schools, the MSM, and even our government. They do this through private donations and through various organizations, Fjordman gives details about this in his article. It's a good resource, I am bookmarking it for future reference.

I do feel I need to comment on Fjords statement that "The Saudis are enemies". We are in a very delicate situation with them. We depend on them for oil, they depend on us for defense (they have no significant military force to defend themselves from, say, Iran).

While the Saudi government does support the US in opposing Iran, the Jihadists in all Muslim countries do share many views, despite sectarian differences. While they might vie with each other for power, they can still cooperate against a commonly percieved enemy; the infidel. The educational efforts of the Saudi's reach far beyond their own Wahhabi sect. They supply educational materials for mosque schools around the world, and are buying influence in Western schools and universities as well.

The Saudi's are also facing divisions within their own country, with Jihadists who want war with the West. It's a complex situation; the Saudi's may support us on some issues, and not others; they may tell us one thing, yet do another. That is why we have to be so cautious of their influence-buying. Yet, our dependancy on their oil, and their own vulnerability to their fragile position at home, make it difficult to be more forceful with them at this time.

This could change if we do more to become energy independent. But will we? When?

Related Links:

Saudi Wahhabi education in the USA

Saudi Education Reforms... NOT

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