Academic malfeasance: Khaled Abou El Fadl on Judeo-Christian values
Khaled Abou El Fadl, who revels in the title of Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Professor in Islamic Law at the UCLA School of Law, has a big theory. As explained in a talk on April 21, 2018, titled “What It Takes for Islamic Intellectuals Today” (at 37:34-42:05; transcript here), his breakthrough idea goes like this:
As the number of Muslims in the West grew in the late twentieth century, the Christian Right sought a way to counter this “dangerous” new population and devised the idea of promoting supposed Judeo-Christian values to which it connected all things modern – “from cars to planes to electricity to computers, everything.” The beauty of this myth lay in helping the Christian Right create an alliance with its “natural allies” in what Abou El Fadl calls the Zionist Right.
And who were the key figures in this alliance? Why, none other than Robert Spencer of JihadWatch.org and myself.
This is how Robert Spencer, from the Christian right, became wedded to Daniel Pipes, from the Zionist right. They met together. They met especially with a well-known and well-documented group of industrialists and financiers, convinced them of the danger that they meet; they convinced them that Western civilization is in danger by the rise of Islam and got them to fund everything. … The way they work is actually wonderfully synchronistic.
The two of us then found another twenty intellectuals who shared two attributes: being well-funded and failures in academia. Never mind our failures, we had the money and “with money you can create your own academic forum.” We twenty then “worked closely with a group of activists” and coordinated our movements “with well-known media outlets … and with certain politicians.”
Voilà! It is “amazing” how “money can engineer a great deal of falsehood,” Abou El Fadl concludes this riff.
(1) It is also “amazing” how remote from reality a “distinguished professor” at a major university can be.
(2) According to Philip Jenkins, the term Judeo-Christian goes back to George Orwell in 1939 and acquired prominence when Dwight Eisenhower used it in 1952 (“our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith. … With us, of course, it is the Judeo-Christian concept”). In other words, the term long pre-dates the growing Muslim presence.
(3) Yes, the Christian and Zionist rights are allies. Generally, those on the Right agree on issues, as do those on the Left. (Who would have guessed?) They don’t require Muslims to serve as a common opponent.
(4) When they cooperate politically, it is over specific issues distant from something so rarified as Judeo-Christian values.
(5) Robert Spencer and I are allies. We first communicated in 2002 and have done so often since then. I have blurbed several of his books and even commissioned one of them. But “wedded,” seriously? And we met with a “group of industrialists and financiers”? Rubbish; only in Khaled Abou El Fadl’s ever-fertile and scandalously unscholarly Islamist imagination.
(6) Did someone say Islamist? Actually, it was me who exposed the good professor as a “stealth Islamist” in 2004, bringing an abrupt end to his run of flattering press reviews.
Photo credit: YouTube screen grab (cropped)