Jewish World Review August 28, 2002 / 20 Elul, 5762
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.
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.
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08/22/02: LET THEM EAT PEANUTS!