The Real Perry/Aga Khan Curriculum Is Bad For Children
Last weekend the Thinker ran an article by Amil Imani and a blog by Andrew Bostom, both of which gave a stamp of approval to Rick Perry's public-school Islamic school curriculum. The only problem was that both Imani and Bostom were presenting a false argument. Neither Imani nor Bostom was actually evaluating the curriculum at all; rather, they were praising one individual teacher's lesson plan, not the actual curriculum. Thus Imani and Bostom were basing their entire argument about the curriculum upon an incorrect assumption. Stupefying.
The actual curriculum has been scrubbed entirely from the web after I first exposed it a couple of weeks back; not only has it been taken down, but the Google cache has been scrubbed as well. Clearly the Perry camp are embarrassed by the curriculum, or they wouldn't have resorted to this drastic measure to cover it up. They know what the real curriculum is, and they reveal that knowledge by this action.
Here are some of the elements of the program that show it to be a whitewash of Islam:
- The main reading is from Carl Ernst's Following Muhammad, the first three chapters. This book whitewashes Muhammad, saying that he "was, by all accounts, a charismatic person known for his integrity" (p. 85). Muhammad's exhortations to make war against unbelievers, his multiple marriages and child marriage, and other negative aspects of his biography are explained away or ignored entirely.
- The curriculum directs participants to "consider Carl Ernst's statement, 'It is safe to say that no religion has such a negative image in Western eyes as Islam.'" Then it asks them: "Why is this so? How have political and economic relationships between the Middle East and Western Europe and the United States impacted perceptions of Islam, in the past and the present? How have they impacted perceptions of the 'West' among Muslims?" Note that participants are guided to see the "negative image" of Islam as the result of "political and economic relationships between the Middle East and Western Europe and the United States." No hint is given of the possibility that Islam might have a "negative image" in the West because of jihad conquests, institutionalized oppression of women and non-Muslims, and the like.
- The curriculum quotes Edward Said, who ascribed all critical discussion of Islamic jihad and Islamic supremacism to racism and neo-colonialism, as warning that one should speak of "Islams rather than Islam," and warns that in dealing with Islam "one has entered an astoundingly complicated world." This invocation of Islam's complexity is frequently used to discourage those who point to the Qur'an's violent passages and Muhammad's exhortations to warfare as evidence of Islam's bellicose intentions. Yet Islamic jihadists routinely refer to this material with no hesitation based on Islam's "complexity."
- Readings for the session entitled "Muhammad through History" include Celebrating Muhammad: Images of the Prophet in Popular Muslim Poetry and The Miraculous Journey of Mahomet. It notes, correctly, that "for millions of Muslims around the world, the Prophet Muhammad has become the paradigm, or role model, who is worthy of being emulated." However, there is no hint whatsoever of how Muhammad, as a model to be emulated, has inspired jihad warriors and terrorists.
- The common Islamic apologetic claim that Islam inspired all the greatest achievements of Western Judeo-Christian civilization appears in the assertion that "there is strong evidence to suggest that Muslim poetic accounts of the mi'raj, reaching Europe through the Arab courts in medieval Spain, inspired the Italian writer Dante to compose his famous work, The Divine Comedy." No mention is made of how Dante placed Muhammad in hell as a false prophet.
- This session on the Qur'an makes no mention whatsoever of the elements of the Qur'an that exhort Muslims to hate unbelievers and make war against them (98:6, 48:29, 47:4, 2:191, 4:89, 9:5, 9:29, 9:123, etc.). The text used is Michael Sells's Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations, which doesn't even include the sections of the Qur'an that most directly and emphatically call for violence against non-Muslims.
- The curriculum makes sure to point out that "believers point to this very perfection of the text as the proof of the prophethood of Muhammad," and that "for many, the notion that the Qur'an is inimitable, that is, no human could possibly have produced anything so perfect, proves that it had to be God who revealed this message to Muhammad." But it makes no mention of the text's designation of non-believers as "the most vile of created beings" (98:6), the warlike passages noted above, its call to beat disobedient women (4:34), and the like.
- This second session on the Qur'an tells participants to "discuss the role of the Qur'an in providing direction for an ethical life." Here again, no mention is made of the ways in which Islamic jihadists use the Qur'an's teachings to justify violence against and the subjugation of unbelievers.
- The curriculum lists eight central themes of the Qur'an. Although there are well over 100 Qur'anic verses exhorting believers to jihad warfare, jihad does not make the list.
- This session on the Sunni/Shi'ite split and other sects in Islam fails to mention one salient point: Islamic law calls for the execution of heretics and apostates. This law has been the foundation for an extraordinary amount of bloodshed between adherents of various Muslim sects throughout history and today.
- This session dismisses as a "misconception" the idea that "Islam forbids music and representational art." It does not explain why so many Muslims, including the Taliban who destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas, came to hold this "misconception."
- Participants are asked, "What conditions in Baghdad encouraged such a vast array of discoveries and inventions?" But the readings give no hint of the fact that Jews and Christians in Baghdad actually accounted for the great majority of these inventions. See here for a full explanation.
- Participants are also asked: "Why was there such an abundance of inventions and discoveries attributed to Muslims in Medieval times but not today?" This question guides students toward a discussion of the trumped-up and manipulative modern concept of "Islamophobia."
- The curriculum states: "The religion that the Prophet Muhammad preached provided his followers an ethical and moral vision for leading a life of righteousness." Again, no mention is made of Muhammad's exhortations to hate and violence, his child marriage (which many Muslims consider exemplary behavior to imitate), and the like.
- The curriculum states: "Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians, who were subjects of new Arab rulers, could maintain their religious practices provided they paid jizya, a tax in tribute in lieu of military service." It gives no hint of the institutionalized discrimination and humiliation that this dhimmi status involved.
- The curriculum quotes Maria Rosa Menocal, the modern scholar most responsible for the myth of a tolerant, pluralistic Muslim Spain. It also discusses this tolerant Muslim Spain as a fact. In reality, however, Jews and Christians had a humiliating second-class status in Muslim Spain. When one Muslim ruler appointed a Jew as a local governor in Granada in 1066, the Muslims rioted and murdered four thousand Jews. The curriculum doesn't mention any of that.
- The readings for this session again include Carl Ernst's Following Muhammad, as well as John Esposito's The Straight Path. Both are highly apologetic, one-sided works that give the reader little idea why Muslims would wage jihad or commit violence in the name of Islam. No works of other perspectives are included.
- The curriculum blames the restriction of rights of Muslim women on European colonialism, ignoring the many Islamic texts and teachings that restrict women's rights.
- The participants are again directed to read Carl Ernst and John Esposito, as well as another modern-day non-Muslim Islamic apologist, Charles Kurzman. No works of differing perspectives are presented.
When Imani first gave his blessing to the Perry curriculum, I wrote to him, asking him how he could sanction the Islamic whitewash. Imani replied:
To fight the enemy effectively you need to know everything you can about him. Universities, admittedly tend to be too liberal. Yet, as a whole they do their job of providing information. And universities such as Harvard and university of Texas are top universities. Their participation in providing balanced information about many aspects of Islam is bound to help in dealing with it.
How is Perry's whitewashed curriculum addressing Imani's concern about "knowing everything you can"? There is no mention of the 270 million victims of over a millennium of jihadi wars, land appropriations, cultural annihilations, and enslavements.
I disagree that such a curriculum can do any good. Disarming our children in what will be the struggle of their generation is the strategy of the enemy. We should not assist in our own destruction. And again, Imani never reviewed the actual curriculum, which was removed from the web after I exposed it. This is a disinformation campaign waged by our own people. But I took screenshots, and the whole thing can be found here. "Governor Perry," it says proudly, "was instrumental in getting this program off the ground." And also: "The curriculum for this project," it adds, "was developed at Harvard University and modified at the University of Texas at Austin"; the schoolteacher whose lesson plan Imani and Bostom relied on was just a participant in a teacher training program, not a developer of the curriculum.
Why is such an extensive curriculum about Islam being taught in our public schools at all? Is Christianity or Judaism being preached in Texas public schools as well?
The visceral reaction of the right-wing blogosphere to the exposure of the Aga Khan curriculum borders on Paulian madness. Imani and Bostom are just the latest exponents of the mad rush to anoint Perry without fully vetting him. Both Bostom and Imani were anxious to portray the Ismailis as peaceful. But in fact, Perry's Ismaili connection is more troubling for the Aga Khan's ties to terror state Syria than for the nature of the Ismailis as an obscure, tiny Muslim cult. As Robert Spencer said of Bostom's piece:
So let me get this straight: an obscure Ismaili intellectual decried "fanaticism," and therefore it is just fine that the Aga Khan invested $40 million in Syria, a state sponsor of terrorism? An obscure Ismaili intellectual decried "tyrannical government" in Islam, and therefore it is just fine that the Aga Khan curriculum for Texas schools, approved by Rick Perry, is a total whitewash of Islam and jihad, and relies on such compromised pseudo-academics as John Esposito and Carl Ernst?
The whitewash of Islam that the Aga Khan/Perry curriculum presents is pure Islamic supremacism. It is completely and utterly intellectually dishonest, and enormously harmful to our children. Ten years after the Japanese attacked us on December 7, 1941, the enemy was vanquished. Ten years after 9/11, it's almost as if we lost the war. They're writing the history books, they're whitewashing their evil deeds, and Perry and Co. are promoting it all. For Mr. Bostom to pass off such concerns about Rick Perry as "hysteria" eerily evokes the caterwauling opposition that Christopher Columbus suffered when he said that the world was not flat.
Would Amil Imani or Andrew Bostom enthusiastically support the actual Perry/Aga Khan curriculum being taught to their kids?