| Moral and intellectual
confusion has become the norm at our universities, with the most recent
example coming from the University of North Carolina.
In order to equip incoming freshmen with a
better understanding of the Islamic terror attack of 9-11, the chancellor
of the university has assigned as required summer reading a book containing
the early revelations of Muhammad. "Approaching the Qur'an" contains those
chapters (suras) of the Koran, assembled, translated and commented on by
Haverford College professor of religion Michael Sells.
The amount of intellectual and moral confusion
in this policy has eluded nearly all those who have commented on it. Defenders
of the UNC policy say that it is vital that in order to understand Islamic
terror, Americans must become acquainted with Islam, and how better to
begin than by reading the Koran?
Let's deal with the confusion step by step:
1. On September 11, 2001, deeply religious
Muslims from the Arab world, in the name of their religion, tried to murder
tens of thousands of Americans, and did murder more than 3,000 completely
innocent men, women and children, on airplanes, on the ground and in office
buildings. Tens of millions of Muslims, largely in the Arab world, either
denied that Muslims committed the acts, either attributing them to Israel
and the CIA, or simply rejoicing over them.
Now, exactly how will reading "Approaching the
Qur'an," with its selected lovely suras from the Koran, explain any of
2. There are one billion Muslims in the world,
but not one authoritative Muslim organization anywhere has condemned Islamic
terror generally (some have condemned 9-11 specifically). All have come
out in favor Palestinian terror against Jews, and none has condemned the
cult of death developed among Palestinian Muslims in which the Creator
is depicted as supplying 72 virgin women to any teenage Muslim boy who
blows himself up while murdering Jews and Americans.
3. There are almost no Muslim democracies in
the world; in the Arab world, there are no Muslim democracies.
4. Wherever Islamists take power, a totalitarian
regime is set up, and the most primitive denials of basic human rights
follow. One or more of the Islamic regimes -- Afghanistan, Sudan, Iran,
Saudi Arabia, Libya -- have either engaged in genocide or supported Islamic
regimes that have, have forbidden all other religious expressions, have
exported terror, and have relegated women to a status well beneath that
of a woman in 10th century Europe. They are, with the exception of North
Korea, the cruelest places on earth.
It won't. Such readings are in fact irrelevant
to any of the above, including understanding 9-11.
So, the intent of the University of North Carolina
assigned summer reading is not at all what it purports to be. It was
not chosen to help students understand 9-11; it was chosen to help students
not to understand 9-11 by deflecting their attention from the contemporary
Arab Islamic reality and onto selected ancient Islamic texts that bear
no connection to that reality.
It would be as if after Hitler and Nazism rose
to power and began subjugating countries and slaughtering Jews, some American
university assigned readings from Goethe and required listening to Bach
so that their students could better understand Nazi Germany. To understand
Nazi terror, you study the hate-filled texts of Nazism, not the beautiful
novels of German writers or Bach's cello suites. To understand Islamic
terror, you study the hate-filled texts that are published daily throughout
the Arab world; you assign the hate-filled sermons that are preached every
week in the Muslim mosques in the Middle East and Iran.
But none of that will be noted, let alone assigned,
at the University of North Carolina or any other major American university
one year after 9-11. Our universities are not really interested in having
their students understand America's enemies. They are, incredibly, more
interested in having their students sympathize with them.