The poster had been unsubscribed because of extensive bouncing. However,
stirring the pot is fun regardless... ;-}
----- Forwarded message from firstname.lastname@example.org -----
From: "A B" <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2002 21:30:52 +0000
Subject: Discussion Point: Forbidden subjects in higher education
This list does not get used often enough. So, I pass along this article in
the hopes that it may spark some interest. What are your opinions on
"censorship" in higher education when it is done for "political correctness"
in "times such as these"?
October 29, 2002 9:30 a.m.
Damned If You Do
Historians dare to criticize Islamic dhimmitude at Georgetown and pay a
Will Jews and Christians on American college campuses have the freedom and
more importantly, the courage to speak out against oppression of their
people in Islamic nations? Not, it seems, at Georgetown University, where
Jewish student leaders turned on the leading historian of dhimmitude the
state of formal discrimination historically imposed on Jews and Christians
living under Islamic occupation when Muslim students became angry and
emotional over her remarks.
Bat Yeor, who occasionally contributes to National Review Online, made her
reputation by documenting the tragic fate of the dhimmi Christians of the
East, in lands conquered by Islam. Classical Islam prescribes a state of
existence for subject Jews and Christians under which they must live as
second-class citizens, paying a special tax to their Muslim rulers, living
under special rules, and not granted the same basic human rights enjoyed by
Muslims. Bat Yeor, born a Jew in Egypt but exiled to Europe, is the
best-known historian of what she has termed dhimmitude, and has written
three books on the subject.
A coalition of Jewish and Christian student groups at Georgetown invited the
historian and her husband, historian David Littman, to deliver a lecture a
week ago today on the stated topic of "Ideology of Jihad, Dhimmitude and
Human Rights" which was the title of the speech, according to flyers the
event organizers produced. If statements the Littmans provided to National
Review Online are accurate, it is hard to believe that their hosts were
unaware of the nature of their work in the field.
"The various flyers in my possession that were prepared, posted, and widely
circulated via e-mail by the organizers (I considered some of them somewhat
provocative and said so), confirm that all were fully aware of the
subjects and themes to be addressed by both speakers," David Littman said.
Littman says the organizers agreed to provide special security for the
event, indicating that they anticipated the possibility of trouble. Littman
says he and his wife met with Ben Bixby, one of the Jewish student
organizers, a week before the lecture, gave him copies of Bat Yeor's books,
as well as copies of her recent articles. "Anyone glancing at these
publications would know exactly the thrust of subjects and themes of the
evening lectures," he tells NRO.
On the morning of the lectures, says Littman, he and Bat Yeor met Bixby and
fellow students Julia Segall and Salamon Kalach-Zaga for breakfast. They
spoke about the planned speeches. Littman says he decided to present a
version of a talk he had given at the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, and
provided a copy to the organizers. For her part, Bat Yeor says it is
impossible for her to believe that she would have been invited to speak by
students who were unfamiliar with her work.
Of her lecture, Bat Yeor says, "I explained the roots of jihad according to
Muslim theologians and jurists, its aim, strategy, tactics and rules. This
was followed by a short description of the jihad war of conquest on three
continents over a millennium: from Portugal to India, from Budapest to
Sudan, as those war operations, victories and conquests were described in
Muslim and Christian chronicles. Dhimmitude is the direct consequence of
jihad. It embodied all the Islamic laws and customs applied over a
millennium on the vanquished population, Jews and Christians, living in the
countries conquered by jihad and therefore Islamized.
"Then I spoke of the return of the jihad ideology since the 1960s, and of
some dhimmitude practices in Muslim countries applying the sharia [Islamic]
law, or inspired by it. I stressed the incompatibility between the concept
of tolerance as expressed by the jihad-dhimmitude ideology, and the concept
of human rights based on the equality of all human beings and the
inalienability of their rights."
According to a letter written to the campus newspaper by Scott Borer-Miller,
a Jewish student who was present at the lecture, students "openly laughed
and made comments" during Bat Yeor's half-hour lecture. In the
question-and-answer period that followed, Bat Yeor reported "sometimes
vehement" opposition from Muslim students in the audience. She describes it
as "religiously motivated."
"They wouldn't accept a word of criticism on jihad and dhimmitude," she
says. "I had approached and explained the subject as a matter of human
history, like any other such subject. My vision was pluralistic, and based
on countless testimonies, including Muslim ones. It was clear that the
students who objected would not accept nor even tolerate the perception of
Bat Yeor describes the Jewish students as looking "miserable and stunned."
David Littman told me last week in New York that one of the Jewish students
came to him and asked him not to deliver his lecture. He refused, and faced
another outcry from Muslim students, particular when he mentioned
disapprovingly that Muhammad's favorite wife, Aisha, was a small child when
she was married off to the Prophet. Bat Yeor told me last week that several
Jewish and Christian students approached her and her husband after the event
and thanked them for their testimony. "I asked them, 'Why didn't you stand
up for us when we were being attacked?'" she said. "They didn't have an
Three days after the lecture, a story appeared in The Hoya, the campus
newspaper, in which Kalach-Zaga, spokesman for the Georgetown Israel
Alliance, alleged that Bat Yeor and her husband misled the organizers. "We
wanted an event that talked about authoritarian regimes and how they twist
and distort Islam to justify repression against minorities. The information
that [Yeor and Littman] provided us with was about this topic, but their
presentation wasn't concerned at all with this," the paper quoted
Kalach-Zaga as saying.
"The speakers gave us certain ideas about what they would speak about so
that they could get in the door, and once they were in, they gave a
completely different idea of what we had wanted. It was two-faced and
manipulative," he continued.
In a letter to The Hoya, Jewish student leaders Julia Segall and Daniel
Spector called the event "a disaster, and [we] denounce the views brought
forth by Bat Yeor and David Littman." The pair called their guest speakers
"hateful, slanderous and a crude surprise to us." They accused the speakers
of making "no effort to make a clear distinction between pure, harmonious
Islam, and the acts of a few who falsely claim to act in the name of Islam."
"This is pure nonsense," Bat Yeor replies. "When one studies the Inquisition
or the Crusades, one does not feel obliged to make a clear distinction
between 'pure' Christianity and those historical events. In a university,
the examination of several analyses of history should be encouraged. The
Muslim view is exclusively religion-based, and proceeds from the assumption
that there is only one valid interpretation of history: the Islamic one. No
criticism of jihad is accepted because it is a just war according to Muslim
"This attitude imposes the worst law of dhimmitude on non-Muslims: the
refusal of their evidence. The historical testimony of the millions of human
victims of jihad is rejected on its face by this doctrinal attitude."
It strains credibility to believe that the Jewish student organizers thought
that Bat Yeor, whose work makes plain that jihad and dhimmitude are
inextricably linked to Islamic doctrine and practice, would present them
with a lecture saying the codified oppression of non-Muslim peoples is a
peculiar distortion of Islam. None of several Jewish students involved with
putting the event together responded to NRO's request for comment. David
Littman says that unless the student organizers retract their accusations
that he and his wife deceived the event's organizers, he will consult a
lawyer about a libel suit.
Rabbi Harold White, the Jewish chaplain at Georgetown, said he was visited
by several of the "horrified" organizers the day after the presentation.
"They didn't have problems with the facts [Bat Yeor and David Littman] were
presenting," says Rabbi White. "They believed [the historians] were very
rude. From what the students said to me, it was their mannerisms, and
cutting off questions, that led to the apology. No [student] said to me that
they doubted what she said was true. The just didn't like the presentation."
That contrasts starkly with the complaints the three students Spector,
Segall, and Kalach-Zaga made for public consumption, in the pages of the
campus newspaper, in which they mostly complained about the content of the
Yeor-Littman speeches ("we in no way agree or support what was said"), and
in Kalach-Zaga's case, accused the husband-wife team of being "two-faced and
Rabbi White at first told NRO he suspected that the Jewish students had not
read any of Bat Yeor's work prior to bringing her to campus, but corrected
himself when he recalled that a Palestinian student group had requested of
the Jewish student leaders that they cancel Bat Yeor's talk. "I know [the
Jewish students] were provided with the material in advance, because in
justifying the program to the leadership of the Arab group, they said they
had read it and were convinced the program wouldn't be offensive."
When Muslim students in attendance reacted angrily to the speakers'
presentations on jihad and dhimmitude, the Jewish students apparently
changed their tune. "I don't think it was intimidation," says Rabbi White.
"I think it was based on the fact that the week before, they had
participated in a successful program on Jewish-Palestinian dialogue, and I
think they must have figured it would endanger dialogue in the future."
As for Chi Alpha, the lone Christian group co-sponsoring the event, Shawn
Galyen, the group's (non-student) chaplain, said he had never heard of Bat
Yeor, but agreed to co-sponsor the lecture when Jewish organizers told him
she would speak on the human rights situation of persecuted religious
minorities in Islamic countries. Galyen said he was "disappointed" when her
speech took up Islamic theology.
"I didn't think I heard a clear distinction when there could have been one
between religion and people using religion for bad purposes," Galyen tells
NRO. "If I would have known that was her work, I would have never been
involved in it. It just isn't helpful, that kind of presentation."
But if what Bat Yeor and David Littman said about Islamic doctrine and
history is true, I put it to Galyen, isn't it "helpful" as opposed to a
lie that keeps social peace? Galyen demurred, saying that his group isn't
political, and that he only wishes that Bat Yeor had shown more
"graciousness." The chaplain added that he wasn't sure that her voice
belonged on a college campus, but when pressed, couldn't explain why.
All this, say Bat Yeor and Littman, shows how the Jews and Christians of
Georgetown have embraced a dhimmi mentality, by abasing themselves before
the sensibilities of Muslims, whose co-religionists persecute and oppress
Jews and Christians abroad. Political correctness demands that Islam be
thought of as inherently peaceful and tolerant, and no explorations of its
history and doctrines that would lead to a contrary view may be presented.
Walid Phares, a professor of Middle Eastern studies and ethnic-religious
conflict at Florida Atlantic University, calls the Georgetown controversy
"significant, but not unique."
"In the past two decades, any intellectual who advocates the fact that
Middle Eastern Christians have suffered, or presented their research on this
phenomenon, has been repressed," said Phares, who is a Maronite (Lebanese
Catholic). "After 9/11, and continuing jihadist attacks on Christians around
the world, it's very sad that students at a prominent university would try
to suppress voices of academics, of researchers who are just trying to shed
light on a very difficult issue. History is history, and in the same way
Christians have criticized their own history, including the Crusades, it's
time for the Muslim intellectuals to start criticizing the Islamic conquests
and the jihad."
It's notable that this controversy erupted at Georgetown, says Phares, given
the role its influential, Islamophilic Middle Eastern Studies department has
played in what Phares calls "the erasing of the plight of Middle Eastern
Christians under Islamic regimes."
Charles Jacobs, director of the Boston-based American Anti-Slavery
Organization, says Bat Yeor's historical argument must be heard because she
is describing the basis for laws and ideology today in Saudi Arabia, Sudan,
Iran, parts of Nigeria, and other Muslim nations, that determine how
non-Muslims are governed.
"In most of the Middle East, the legacy of this religious inequality exists
today," he says. "How can centuries of religious discrimination cemented
in daily practices through the requirement to wear distinctive garb, through
the enforced custom of not looking at a Muslim in the eye, of not being able
to defend yourself in court against a Muslim for any charge conceivable
how could this disappear overnight? This is what stokes the jihadi fires,
and this is what Bat Yeor is calling attention to."
Could it be that Jews and Christians at Georgetown and other elite
universities, who are among the small number of Americans in a position to
do something to draw attention to the plight of the dhimmi peoples, may not
want to hear about their suffering, past and present, because it upsets the
social peace on campus? Because it gainsays the comforting multiculturalist
nostrum that any unpleasant manifestation of Islam is not Islam at all?
Because preserving good relations with Muslim groups requires not noticing
dhimmitude and, if it comes to it, possibly even dishonestly trashing the
reputations of two scholars who do?
Any peace built on a lie is no peace at all, and a dialogue based on
anything but the truth is self deception. It is to be hoped that the
Georgetown debacle may result not in Bat Yeor's voice being silenced by
dhimmitized Americans, but amplified by Americans who are tired of the
silence on Islamic persecution of dhimmis. There is a nascent effort
underway in certain Washington circles to establish an institute affiliated
with Bat Yeor to promote scholarship on dhimmitude. This distressing
incident at Georgetown underscores the need for such an institute, so
Eastern Christians and Jews of dhimmi heritage can preserve and defend their
history. "Ignorance is the enemy of reason," says FAU's Phares. "Maronites,
Copts, Syriacs and others have been victims of jihad for centuries. After
9/11, the role of these communities in the West is extremely important. They
can tell what has happened to them."
Surf the Web without missing calls! Get MSN Broadband.
----- End forwarded message -----
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.3 : Fri Aug 01 2014 - 20:14:54 EDT