UNC is confused about 9-11

Posted: Aug 28, 2002 12:00 AM
Moral and intellectual confusion has become the norm at our universities, with the most recent example coming from the University of North Carolina. In order to equip incoming freshmen with a better understanding of the Islamic terror attack of 9-11, the chancellor of the university has assigned as required summer reading a book containing the early revelations of Muhammad. "Approaching the Qur'an" contains those chapters (suras) of the Koran, assembled, translated and commented on by Haverford College professor of religion Michael Sells. The amount of intellectual and moral confusion in this policy has eluded nearly all those who have commented on it. Defenders of the UNC policy say that it is vital that in order to understand Islamic terror, Americans must become acquainted with Islam, and how better to begin than by reading the Koran? Let's deal with the confusion step by step: 1. On September 11, 2001, deeply religious Muslims from the Arab world, in the name of their religion, tried to murder tens of thousands of Americans, and did murder more than 3,000 completely innocent men, women and children, on airplanes, on the ground and in office buildings. Tens of millions of Muslims, largely in the Arab world, either denied that Muslims committed the acts, either attributing them to Israel and the CIA, or simply rejoicing over them. 2. There are one billion Muslims in the world, but not one authoritative Muslim organization anywhere has condemned Islamic terror generally (some have condemned 9-11 specifically). All have come out in favor Palestinian terror against Jews, and none has condemned the cult of death developed among Palestinian Muslims in which God is depicted as supplying 72 virgin women to any teenage Muslim boy who blows himself up while murdering Jews and Americans. 3. There are almost no Muslim democracies in the world; in the Arab world, there are no Muslim democracies. 4. Wherever Islamists take power, a totalitarian regime is set up, and the most primitive denials of basic human rights follow. One or more of the Islamic regimes -- Afghanistan, Sudan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Libya -- have either engaged in genocide or supported Islamic regimes that have, have forbidden all other religious expressions, have exported terror, and have relegated women to a status well beneath that of a woman in 10th century Europe. They are, with the exception of North Korea, the cruelest places on earth. Now, exactly how will reading "Approaching the Qur'an," with its selected lovely suras from the Koran, explain any of the above? It won't. Such readings are in fact irrelevant to any of the above, including understanding 9-11. So, the intent of the University of North Carolina assigned summer reading is not at all what it purports to be.
It was not chosen to help students understand 9-11; it was chosen to help students not to understand 9-11 by deflecting their attention from the contemporary Arab Islamic reality and onto selected ancient Islamic texts that bear no connection to that reality. It would be as if after Hitler and Nazism rose to power and began subjugating countries and slaughtering Jews, some American university assigned readings from Goethe and required listening to Bach so that their students could better understand Nazi Germany. To understand Nazi terror, you study the hate-filled texts of Nazism, not the beautiful novels of German writers or Bach's cello suites. To understand Islamic terror, you study the hate-filled texts that are published daily throughout the Arab world; you assign the hate-filled sermons that are preached every week in the Muslim mosques in the Middle East and Iran. But none of that will be noted, let alone assigned, at the University of North Carolina or any other major American university one year after 9-11. Our universities are not really interested in having their students understand America's enemies. They are, incredibly, more interested in having their students sympathize with them.