Will the Trump Administration move against the radioactive wastelands of far-Left indoctrination and Islamic proselytizing that our nation's colleges and universities have become?
On Friday, it made a small, long overdue step in that direction: Associated Press reported that "the Trump administration is threatening to cut funding for a Middle East studies program run by the University of North Carolina and Duke University, claiming that it's misusing a federal grant to advance 'ideological priorities' and unfairly promote 'the positive aspects of Islam' but not Christianity or Judaism."
The U.S. Department of Education wrote to the UNC-Duke Consortium for Middle East Studies, no doubt interrupting these cosseted pseudo-academics as they swapped stories about how oppressed they are, and told them they had three weeks to revise their course offerings or else they could lose federal funds that were intended for instruction in foreign languages.
The Education Department letter came after Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.) noted that the UNC-Duke Consortium for Middle East Studies had held a taxpayer-funded conference featuring "severe anti-Israeli bias and anti-Semitic rhetoric," which made it like virtually every other conference on Israel and the Middle East held in every college and university over the last few years, but never mind. The Education Department found that instruction in foreign languages (which, remember, the money was for) and national security had "taken a back seat to other priorities," and that the Consortium was spending taxpayer money on courses that were "plainly unqualified for taxpayer support."
The letter also observed that the Consortium was failing to offer – shocker! -- a "balance of perspectives" on religion. Instead, the Consortium was placing "considerable emphasis" on "understanding the positive aspects of Islam, while there is an absolute absence of any similar focus on the positive aspects of Christianity, Judaism or any other religion or belief system in the Middle East." There were few, if any, courses discussing the persecution of non-Muslims in the Middle East, "including Christians, Jews, Baha'is, Yadizis, Kurds, Druze and others," and pointed out that the grant's rules require that students be given a "full understanding" of the region. Not, that is, one that could have been taught by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
AP, unsurprisingly, thought this was horrifying – not the course on Jew-hatred or the ones proselytizing for Islam, but the Education Department's letter. It reported that "academic freedom advocates say the government could be setting a dangerous precedent if it injects politics into funding decisions." These "academic freedom advocates" were not reported as saying anything at all about the dangerous precedent that academic institutions all over the country have already set by injecting politics – far-Left politics, of course, required, taken for granted, pervading everything – into academic discourse.
Henry Reichman, chairman of a committee on academic freedom for the American Association of University Professors, fumed: "Is the government now going to judge funding programs based on the opinions of instructors or the approach of each course?" Without any sense of irony, this man who has won honors and advancement because of his adherence to left-wing political correctness railed against the Trump administration's letter, saying: "The odor of right-wing political correctness that comes through this definitely could have a chilling effect." He said nothing about the chilling effect of indoctrinating a generation of young Americans into thinking that their nation and its history are evil, that murderous jihadi thugs are noble freedom fighters, and that "climate change" and "Islamophobia" are real things that they need to worry about.
Jay Smith, a history professor at UNC and vice president of its chapter of the American Association of University Professors, was outraged, charging the Department of Education with "ideologically driven harassment" and declaring that Education Department official Robert King, who signed the letter, "should stay in his lane and allow the experts to determine what constitutes a 'full understanding' of the Middle East."
It is important to remember that Smith was raging against just one small expression of disapproval toward two of the universities where this proselytizing for Islam has been going on in universities and colleges for years. But the Education Department's letter is at least some pushback. And it signals to other "institutions of higher learning," as these Antifa/Muslim Brotherhood recruitment centers quaintly used to be called, that they may not continue to be able to get away with this indefinitely.
In a sane world, none of the academic institutions that have been little totalitarian fiefdoms in which Leftist politics are taken for granted and thrust upon every student, and Muslims ostensibly standing against the alleged abuses of the Israeli military themselves abuse and even sometimes brutalize Jewish and pro-Israel students should receive any taxpayer funding at all. The federal government should withhold all – yes, all -- funds from any university or college, no matter how great or insignificant, where only one point of view is allowed to be taught, and which train young people in little, if anything, other than a sense of grievance at perceived racism, "white supremacism," and "cisgender hegemony."
As it happens, I took a UNC/Duke graduate course on Islam back in 1985, when I was a graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Even that many years ago, the violent aspects of Islamic doctrine were downplayed and whitewashed. There is no doubt whatsoever that in the intervening years, the impulse to absolve Islam of all responsibility for the crimes committed in its name and in accord with its teachings has only intensified.
Smith rages that the Department of Education should allow the "experts" to set the parameters of academic instruction. "Experts." Sure. Everyone at this point should be wary of what historian Christopher Dummitt calls "the so-called proof presented by alleged experts." He notes, in a fascinating article about his own promotion of currently fashionable gender fictions, that his "own flawed reasoning was never called out—and, in fact, only became more ideologically inflected through the process of peer review." Yes, and that is happening in every academic department in virtually every university and college in the country. Untold millions of young people have had their heads filled with this destructive nonsense. If America is to have a future, this must stop.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.