Sohaib Abbasi, a former executive at the Oracle Corporation, contributed $2.5 million to the Abbasi Program; Lysbeth Warren, a member of the Humanities and Sciences Council at Stanford, kicked in another $2 million. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, apparently worried about their reputation as spendthrifts, added a $4.5 million grant to the fund. That's makes $9 million—a right tidy sum. But it's for a good cause—it's for education
Who knows? Maybe Johnny will finally learn how to read, and Jane will acquire the necessary skills to become a first-rate junior executive at—say, McDonalds or Wal-Mart.
But wait a minute—hold your horses—this is Berkeley we're talking about here, and there are strings attached. If Johnny and Jane expect to be on the receiving end of any of this educational largesse they will have to study the Koran, learn how to spell burqa, plan a pilgrimage to Mecca, and read the works of John Esposito—especially the latter.
The $9 million is more for indoctrination than it is for education. It will fund the new Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies at Berkeley. It will expand the current curriculum of Islamic Studies, and will, hopefully, promote a better understanding of Muslim culture.
Say what? Promote a better understanding of Muslim culture? Now if that doesn't smell fishy it's because somebody has let Charlie out of the can. Isn't Islam a religion? They're not trying to promote a religion are they? Hasn't anybody told them about the separations of Church and State? Aren't these the same folks who have repeatedly excoriated Jerry Falwell for attempting to breech the famous wall between Church and State? Is there anybody at Berkeley who remembers Jefferson and Madison? Do they think Old Jeff and Little Jemmy would have approved of this nonsense? What would that dirty little atheist Tom Paine have had to say? Would it be printable?
What are these Berkeley rascals up to? Do they have an ulterior motive—a hidden agenda—are they trying to undermine Christianity, capitalism, George W. Bush, and the US government? Naw—those scoundrels would never attempt anything like that! Maybe they're planning to sell prayer rugs between classes. There's a growing market in prayer rugs. Does Esposito have some kind of a contract with the Wahabbis? What are they paying for a convert these days?
John Esposito, a professor at Georgetown University and chair of Georgetown's Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, kicked off the Studies lecture series when he spoke on "The Future of Islam" at Berkeley's Oak Lounge. Esposito is Islam's foremost promoter in America. He beats the loudest drum in the Muslim parade. He's a super salesman. He could have sold shares in the French Panama Canal Company to Ferdinand de Lesseps; he could have sold the Brooklyn Bridge to W.C. Fields; if he stood on a street corner describing a Schwinn to a five-year-old and the Fonz happened by, the Fonz would buy one sight unseen, thinking he was getting the greatest Harley ever built. Esposito is a walking one-man South Sea's Bubble.
"We have to broaden our notions of plurality and tolerance," said Esposito. "Tolerance must be based on mutual understanding and respect…Unless we do that, it makes for a bleak future.
Mutual understanding and respect? Of course! That's it! Esposito is right! What an incredible insight! What an astounding breakthrough! Now if we can get the mullahs and the ayatollahs and the imams and the Wahabbis who run those Mad-Rats-Asses schools they call universities in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Iran to adopt the Esposito program the future safety of the world is assured!
But, alas—wouldn't you know—Esposito is not talking about Mohammed and Habib and the Mad-Rats-Asses schools, he's talking about Potsy and Ralph Malph! Yes, sad to say, Potsy and Ralph Malph are culturally deprived as far as Esposito is concerned. Neither of them has ever been inside a mosque—and the Fonz has never been inside a church, but that's another story. It wouldn't hurt if the boys learned a few suras and hadiths—that would make Ibrahim Hoopercrit more comfortable when he comes around to collect the jizya. That's the tax non-Muslims—dhimmis—pay to practice their religion in the lands of the mullahs. Unlikely, you say? Not according to Hoopercrit. He says America will eventually become a Muslim country—especially if Esposito and his friends have anything to say about it.
If we can't be frank, let's at least be honest. Potsy and Ralph Malph have a more inclusive notion of what plurality entails than either Esposito or Hoopercrit. There is nothing in the way of diversity the boys haven't tried. They will eat anything that's been dead for at least five seconds. And clothes? Why, they will wear a sarong in the morning, a swallowtail coat in the afternoon, and a caftan and a pith helmet at night, and their sister's underpants when nobody is looking. And, except for Roseanne Barr and Moms Mably, there isn't woman they haven't tried to date. They will listen to any kind of music—mariachi, polka. My Gosh! They know who Nelson Eddy is! And once a year they get together for a Chipmunks festival! And do they ever love sports! They would walk a mile—and they have—just to see how many people can stuff their carcasses into a phone booth—a sport that has been in a steady and sad decline. But one must keep an eye on Ralph Malph—he's very competitive. He has been caught cheating at miniature golf.
Plurality? Tolerance? Potsy and Ralph Malph are full of plurality and tolerance. They have a surfeit of it. Why would Esposito insist on more plurality and tolerance for Potsy and Ralph Malph and make little of no demands on Mohammed and Habib? Isn't it a two-way street?
One more bit of wisdom—or perhaps nonsense—from Esposito. He says people are always looking for a Martin Luther of Islam—someone to lead an Islamic version of the Protestant Reformation. This is very interesting. During the Protestant Reformation, Christians wasted an awful lot of their time killing other Christians. That was how they settled their differences. Who can forget The Thirty Years War and the Counter Reformation? Well—maybe Esposito can.
If Islam is undergoing a reformation as Esposito insists, why are the Muslims killing Christians instead of Muslims? Why are they killing Jews instead of Muslims? And Hindus? And animists? And Buddhists? And atheists? And agnostics? Have they got it backwards—or is someone confusing conquest with reformation?