Islamist propaganda has a strong and widening foothold in American schools at all levels, from kindergarten through college. While this propaganda stratagem has all the earmarks of a classic enemy disinformation campaign, I didn't realize how pervasive it actually is until I interviewed Richard Thompson, president and general counsel of the Thomas More Law Center. The Center represented the plaintiffs in one of the earliest lawsuits to call attention to increasing Muslim influence in our public schools.
Last week's column described what attorney Thompson told me about inroads into middle schools in our country, particularly in California; and also in New York City at the Khalil Gibran International Academy (whose principal recently has resigned under pressure from parents' groups for not taking seriously the message behind her students wearing t-shirts with "Intifada" emblazoned across them). This week, I report what Thompson has observed about book publishers and universities.
When I asked him how parents might monitor what is taught and who teaches it in schools, he said, "Well, right now there are several web sites out there [for information], but on a personal level, parents themselves have to look at the books - the textbooks that their children are bringing home. Then they should read about - what does it say about Islam? What does it say about Christianity? I mean there's a bunch of propaganda going on. For instance, the textbook that was published by Houghton Mifflin [and used in California] - I mean Houghton Mifflin is a reputable publisher and [their text] was talking about how tolerant Muslims are of women. If anything, they're probably the most intolerant when it comes to women. And, in another place in the book, they talk about how tolerant Muslims are toward Jews and Christians."
I had to agree with Thompson. This is flat out propaganda because it is patently false.
I told him about my visit to the Holy Land last May during which my wife and I had Palestinian Christian tour guides. They told us that Palestinian Christians had been in the majority in Bethlehem and in Nazareth for centuries, but that's been completely reversed in just the past few years. Palestinian Christians are persecuted by Palestinian Muslims and, in great numbers, are moving away from their ancestral homelands as a direct result. Similar things are happening in many other Middle East venues as radical Islam gains strength.
"It reveals what their long-range plans are," Thompson said, "and although they may put a friendly face right now to their activities, their ultimate aim is to become dominant, and once they become dominant, they are going to persecute every other religion."
As for what parents can do to monitor what is taught, Thompson continued: "Parents have to write to the school and say…this book is inaccurate and show where the inaccuracies lie. Parents can also put pressure on the publishers themselves. Teachers, in fact, should do that too. The book publishers will react to that kind of pressure. The other thing parents can do is to find out from what source teachers are getting their instruction. There are these training seminars that are put on for teachers who are going to be teaching subjects such as Islamic History. Are these seminars being produced by organizations that are being funded by some Saudi Arabian prince?"
That troubling comment brought us to what is happening in American universities insofar as Islamic and/or Middle Eastern studies are concerned. "Because there have been some instructors," Thompson said. "I'm not sure - there was a study done by someone, I think, from Fordham University that showed how some of these Arab princes fund public relations firms that then get professors [to teach] seminars on Islamic history. And these seminars are basically pro-Muslim and anti-Christian. So parents can check on what qualifies a teacher to teach Islamic history. Parents can perhaps attend the seminars themselves and/or they can ask what seminar(s) their children's teachers are asked to attend. Then the parent can research that seminar to find out if it is funded by some Arab prince, or whether it is a legitimate seminar that is going to teach Islamic/Middle Eastern History in an objective and truthful fashion."
I would add that if it is funded by an organization, no matter how pleasant the organization sounds by name, a parent must research that organization, and luckily we have the Internet to help us do so. I'm reminded of the famous case now being tried in Texas against the benign-sounding "Holy Land Foundation" which now stands accused of being a front organization for terrorist groups. There so far have been named about 200 un-indicted co-conspirators, including The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) that claims to be a Muslim advocacy group with whom Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) has very close ties, in that case alone! Parents should find out who and what these un-indicted co-conspirators are who normally operate under our radar. If anyone or any entity in their schools has anything to do with these people or organizations, that deserves their utmost attention and concern. I would also encourage all American parents to follow the Holy Land case; it is an extremely important one.
"Is the US Department of Education involved in any of this?" I asked.
"Well, the US Department of Education is involved." he said. "That's another ironic situation, because the federal government developed these curriculum standards for K-12 and the public school system tried to perform those standards. The federal government gave them money, gave them a stamp of approval, and then university Middle East Study Centers trained the teachers to teach Middle Eastern History. But these centers are, in fact, paid for by the Saudis."
"Yikes," I said.
"So you have a huge number of universities that have compromised their objectivity," he said, "because they are getting large sums of money from Saudi princes. There was an effort in Congress back in 2006 to have all these universities, all American colleges and universities, report the amount of money that they were getting from Saudi Arabia in their Title VI International Education bill -it was House bill 609 and it was sponsored by a representative out of, I believe Indiana - Dan Burton. Well you know what happened? It didn't get passed. And I don't know if - this was in 2006 - and I don't know if there has been a similar bill introduced or not, but this would have been an easy way for Americans concerned about what is happening to check with the public universities, and private universities for that matter, to find out if they're getting huge amounts of money. I know that there was one Saudi prince [Prince al Waleed bin Talal] who donated $40 million to Harvard and Georgetown Universities - $20 million each."
"Those are huge sums," I said, to say nothing of the fact that these princes have targeted some of our most respected institutions of higher learning. What a brilliant move on their part!
"Yeah. Now they have these Middle Eastern Study Programs and then just like vampires of old, they've already tainted Harvard University with that money. Now Harvard University goes out and taints a bunch of innocent school teachers [who are] thinking that they're getting the best kind of information from this, you know, a superior school; but it's basically promoting Saudi Arabian propaganda. And a lot of universities are that way. It's not just Harvard and Georgetown but there are lists of universities funded like this. But it would be good to be able to go to one place and find out how much money is being spent on American universities to indoctrinate America's next generation of leaders. I know that, again, there are some really good web sites out there, like "Campus Watch", that monitor these studies."
"Here's the concern I have," Thompson continued. "We have Americans fighting Islamic terrorists all across the world, yet we are inviting them into our schools and universities to taint our own students and, ultimately, to destroy our civilization and our culture from within."
"The propaganda war. We are not putting resources into it," I suggested.
And the problem I have," Thompson responded, "is that we're winning the war on the battlefield, but we're losing the war in Washington, DC, and in the ivy halls of learning."
Unless America's parents do something to stop it. In a nation created of, by and for the people, this is the only solution available to us. And if we don't become activist on this subject, we will lose the glory of what our country is, and turn our children's world over to forces darker than we can imagine.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Political EditorTom McLaughlin is a teacher and columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and you can email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his blog Tom McLaughlin Blog.