Mollycoddling Islam and Dawah in Buena Vista University
28 May, 2007
- Eric Hoffer once said there was no such thing as an empty head because an empty head was already stuffed with rubbish. Perhaps. Hoffer was being kind—he could have said garbage. How it got there is another matter. If educators agreed with Hoffer they could close up shop and go home; they haven’t, so there must be a lot of empty heads out there in the fruited plains—hundreds, thousands, millions even, to keep the academic turnstiles whirring at a merry pace. From the mega-campuses at Columbus, Ohio, and East Lansing, Michigan, to the Ivy League, on down to Buena Vista University at Storm Lake, Iowa, there are lots of empty heads to be stuffed with what generally passes for knowledge. Knowledge, of course, can be almost anything so the question is what kind of knowledge should be shoveled into the vast landfills between Potsy’s and Ralph Malph’s ears. Should it be life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the Ten Commandments, the Federalist Papers, Milton Friedman’s America? Is someone dreaming? How about—as is more likely—another heaping helping of multiculturalism, larded with enough religious pluralism to bring tears to the eyes of John Esposito, Nihad Awad and Hussein Ibish? Sure, why not? That’s where Buena Vista University come in, and it wasn’t Zachary Taylor's idea either.
Case in point: they held a Philosophy Tea at Wood House at Buena Vista University last week. It was a great idea. Philosophy is a wonderful thing. It’s so Joe College. Everybody gets to think great thoughts and nobody has to dress up in a toga and make like Socrates. The subject was Jihad and Human Rights. Courtney McGarry, a junior, and one of the tea’s sponsors, explained: “I chose to add Jihad to the philosophy tea because it is such a controversial topic after 9/11,” she said. “It’s misconceptions that give Muslims around the world bad stereotypes and I wanted to try to fight those stereotypes.” Courtney must have been in the 10th grade when the Jihadists slammed into the Twin Towers—an impressionable age. Since 9/11, Kollege Kampus ameriKa (the Kollegiate KKK) has been awash in misconceptions and negative stereotypes, but it’s not Muslims who are on the receiving end of a fairly well organized campaign of vilification, it’s George W. Bush and the Republican Party. Eric Hoffer would cry if he could see how much rubbish has piled up and continues to pile up in those empty heads.
Buena Vista University has a student population of 1,150—not enough to matter, not enough to fill the World Trade Center were it still standing except that it does matter in the business of filling brains with rubbish and the practice of Dawah. No field is too small. The University has a first-rate curriculum for a school of 1,150. It has a professor of philosophy and religion—Dr. Swasti Bhattacharyya. Last year, Dr. Bhattacharyya taught a class in Islam. And it wasn’t an ordinary survey class. No, sir—Abe Lincoln gets two weeks if he’s lucky, Islam got an entire year. The amount of rubbish that can be stuffed in an empty head in one year is presumably greater than what can be impacted in one semester.
Dr. Bhattacharyya, of course, is credentialed. She has written Magical Progeny: Modern Technology: A Hindu Bioethics of Assisted Reproduction. She is associated with the Pluralism Project at Harvard University. If that conjures up images of the Interfaith Alliance, Robert Edgar, the National Council of Churches, Diana L. Eck, it should. These are the same people that demanded Elian Gonzalez should be returned to Cuba before Castro knew he was missing. They are Abrahamists—not as in Abraham Lincoln or Abraham’s Irish Rose, but as in Mecca, the Prophet and taqiyya. All Gods are equal but some are more equal than others. (Islam has not yet accepted Hindu bioethics—it seems the doctor is always the last to know)
Autumn Golonka, a junior, took Dr. Bhattacharyya’s class and was impressed by what she had learned. “I thought Jihad meant war,” she said, “but as outlined so eloquently by Courtney and Amy, it was shown to mean personal struggle. I was happy by the turn out and hope more people take the opportunity to educate themselves about Islamic traditions and rituals.”
Like Autumn Golonka, Latika Bourke, a 23-year-old journalist in Sydney, Australia, also wanted to learn more about Islam—and where better to learn than at a mosque. No problem—right? Well, there was. Latika didn’t make it into the mosque before being stopped by an angry Muslim man. “You should be wearing more clothes,” he said. More clothes? Ms Bourke was wearing gloves, a black trench coat and knee-high boots. “Do you know you are disrespecting our religion,” he said. “You need to cover up, you mutt.” Trench coat, knee-high boots, gloves—Paris Hilton’s worst nightmare!
Ms Bourke was there to interview Sheikh Taj el-Din Hilali. In one of his sermons, the Sheikh had gained considerable notoriety by referring to women who displayed their charms as uncovered meat. “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside in the street, or in the garden or the park…and cats come and eat it…whose fault is it? The cats or the uncovered meat?” Needless to say, al-Hilali is extremely popular in Australia’s Muslim community. Women as uncovered meat…is that a misconception? What a lively topic that would be for discussion at a Philosophy Tea! As one mutt to another, of course!
Another Islamic tradition or ritual that could have and should have invited discourse—and one that certainly involves personal struggle at a life and death level—is what is euphemistically referred to as honor killings though it is difficult if not impossible to find any honor in these incredibly foul deeds. Sure, upon occasion, Andrew Jackson and John Randolph defended their honor but they never killed women, indeed, would have fainted dead away at the thought, and would have killed any wretch they caught committing such a heinous act and would have dispatched the rascal with little remorse. But that was 200 years ago.
In 21st Century London, honor killings are on the increase—about one every two months. Police are reviewing the disappearances and suspicious deaths of 122 young Asian women (these are mostly Muslim women though the media doesn’t say so because it is politically incorrect to use the word Muslim in connection with any kind of violence). These 122 deaths and disappearances occurred over the past ten years—81 of them in London. Coroners are being asked to supply details in cases where young Asian women may have committed suicide because of harassment or intimidation.
Honor killings take more lives in the Muslim world every year than the Ku Klux Klan has in the last hundred years. It’s a problem that cannot be ignored. Rosie O’Donnell can’t make it go away by blaming the Bush administration. Philosophy Teas, high on bad cholesterol multiculturalism and devoid of True Grit philosophy, is what got the United States into the mess it is now in. America needs Abe Lincoln, not Jimmy Carter. America needs George Armstrong Custer, not Dr. Swasti Bhattacharyya.
To listen to some hypocrite from CAIR or the National Council of Churches accuse the Crusaders of committing countless outrages and in the next breath say Islam is a religion of peace makes no sense; it is not only offensive, it is pure, unadulterated philosophical twaddle—the kind of rubbish Eric Hoffer found in empty heads, the kind that is found today on many college campuses in so-called Philosophical Teas.