Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the newly-minted Caliph of the Islamic State, and John Esposito, a professor at Georgetown University, have something in common: each has a doctorate in Islamic Studies.
They differ on some minor theological details, however. Mr. Baghdadi finds in Islam the scriptural justification for beheading and enslaving infidels, the violent suppression of religious minorities, and the propagation of Islam through aggressive warfare. Mr. Esposito, in contrast, sees Islam as a religion of peace.
Who is right?
Up until now, Professor Esposito could usually trump his critics with his certified scholastic expertise on Islam. Unfortunately, he can’t out-credential the Caliph. Yet somehow we are supposed to believe him, the renowned professor of Islamic Studies, and ignore that black-turbaned man over there behind the curtain.
Oleg Atbashian of The People’s Cube discusses this topic at FrontPage Mag in an article about the opening of the Center for Global Islamic Studies at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Some excerpts are below:
Centers for Islamic Studies: a Cold-War-Style Influence Operation?
by Oleg Atbashian
The launch of a new Center for Global Islamic Studies at the extremely leftist University of Florida in Gainesville may have been planned as a purely academic affair, but the announcements in the local and national media, including AP and Fox News, exhibited more than a purely academic interest in this event. To compare, one doesn’t often see national media announcements about, let’s say, a local center for the study of viruses — unless the virus is Ebola. And just like with any news about Ebola studies, any news about studies of Islam attracts attention from the general public, who want to know if there’s a hope for the cure, containment, and safety from danger.
Unfortunately, these may not be the kind of Islamic Studies that answer those hopes. The Center opened on September 18th with a conference on “Global Islam and the Quest for Public Space,” headlined by none other than Georgetown professor John Esposito, a known apologist for radical Islam and founding director of the Saudi-sponsored Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.
A small group of protesters picketed the event outside the Pugh Hall on the university campus, with a dozen creative posters and a vinyl banner pointing out that John Esposito and the leader of ISIS both hold PhDs in Islamic Studies: “Same goal, different tactics.” The video of the protest can be seen online.
The protest organizer, Randy McDaniels of ACT for America and the Counter-Terrorism Advisory Group, stated that our students certainly need to study Islam, as long as such studies are based on scientific objectivity and critical analysis. But the presence of John Esposito as the keynote speaker indicated that the new Global Islamic Studies Center was likely to go the way of many other universities, opening their doors and exposing our children to political Islam under the guise of education, with programs funded by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other state sponsors of Islamic fundamentalism.
While many among the leftist faculty and the students were visibly upset with the protest, complete with occasional angry obscenities, a few others were interested in the message and asked for a flyer. Some of them asked, “What’s wrong with having an Islamic Studies Center, even if it’s financed by foreign money?”
The short answer would have been to compare such a project to active measures undertaken in America by the KGB during the Cold War — except that, unfortunately, most American students aren’t familiar with this term. Their knowledge of the Cold War has been thoroughly sanitized by the leftist faculty, especially if the professors are Marxists who used to root for the other side. The resulting perceived absence of the Soviet subversion, propaganda, disinformation, and other influence operations inside the U.S. and around the world creates the impression of an ideologically neutral world, in which America’s response to protect liberty can very easily be misconstrued as imperialist aggression against the innocent.
Read the rest at FrontPage Mag.