The Dartmouth Observer

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Thursday, August 22, 2002
Islam in North Carolina...Spin it 'Round Your Head Like a Helicopter

In tangential reference to the recently-concluded-and-hence-no-longer-ongoing controversy at UNC-Chapel Hill, my buddy Vijay writes:

This seems to be part of a larger national debate that has been going on for close to a year now about how we apporach Islam. It is clear that there are many people out there who are using Islamic values and scripture to justify the mass murder of Americans. It seems important then for us to study this phenomenon. However, as I've discussed before on this site, Academia tends to do a poor job of it. Instead of studying fanaticism and the ideology of people like bin Laden, Professors and University administrators are trying their hardest to ensure that a politically correct version of Islam is proliferated. Increasigly, these multiculturalists are worried about negative reactions to Islam, as opposed to negative interpretations of Islam. So, is Islam to blame for September 11? I don't know, but Academia is certainly not helping us figure it out.

While I agree with Vijay, in general, that academia is increasingly weakening itself through its renunciation of the canon from whence it came (well, I agree with him on the weakening part, I'm not sure what he'd say about the rest of it), I think the conclusion that he's drawn here is about as bogus as George W. Bush claiming to know anything about Aristotle. I am not sure how adamantly Vijay supports the claim being made that having the Koran for assigned reading violates the First Amendment - reading excerpts from the Koran is not tantamount to being forced to practice Islam nor to acknowledge or refuse to acknowledge anything about the doctrine contained therein. However, since Vij brought up the New Testament by way of attempting to demonstrate that forced reading of that text would cause uproar among atheists, ACLU members, and other unsavories, I should point out that if one wants to understand Christian fanatics of the stripe that blow up abortion clinics, one would do well to read the entire Bible in order to understand the logic behind the belief. While I might agree that omitting sections of the Koran that would shed light on the interpretation of jihad espoused by Islamic fundamentalists is less-than-good, it is important that people - especially Bible belters - understand that Islam is not so different than the other two monotheistic religions of the West. So, while I agree that ideally the entire Koran would be assigned so that students could make a more accurate comparative study of Islam and their own faith, I don't think it is a mistake to walk before one runs, as small as the steps may be. Students should understand the basics of Islam before they study fanaticism. Hey, the Pentagon makes the same baby-steps argument for missle defense...which sort of segues into my next post (that I suppose will appear above this one in the blog).