Rep. Holding, the Republican congressman in North Carolina who sparked the investigation of the Duke-UNC Middle East Consortium, said it’s clear the consortium stepped outside the bounds of its Title VI grant. The Education Department has an obligation to ensure its funding is used as intended, he said, adding that other schools should make sure they’re following the rules.
“This has fallen through the cracks, and this could be going on at other educational institutions,” he said in an interview. “If the department’s providing the money and giving guidance on how the money is to be used, I think they can be as in the weeds [i.e., investigating thoroughly] as they need to be.”
The National Resource Center grant program provided a total of $22 million to language programs at about 40 universities last year. Of that total, about $3.5 million was for Middle East programs.
Along with its objection to the nature of the UNC-Duke offerings, the department also said it is concerned that, out of 6,800 students enrolled in the consortium’s courses, just 960 were enrolled in Middle East language classes, and that only 11% of the program’s graduates pursue careers in government, while 35% takes jobs in academia.
Department officials instructed the consortium to provide a “revised schedule of activities” for the next year and to explain how each offering promotes foreign language learning and advances national security interest.
The government grant to the UNC-Duke Middle Eastern program was clearly intended to support Middle East language classes and “hard” area studies – history, geography, geopolitics, economics of the Middle East – to help prepare students for government careers in national security. But only 15% of the program’s students were enrolled in any Middle East language classes, and still more disturbing, only 11% of students later took jobs in government. Like any supplier of funds, the government is rightly concerned that its money is being spent as intended by the donor and promised by the recipient; clearly, that has not been the case with the UNC-Duke consortium. What is the reason that so few students took even one course in Middle Eastern languages? Did the faculty not make clear how important such study was to understanding the peoples and polities of the Middle East? Were faculty members themselves too preoccupied with lecturing and writing on other things they deemed more important – on L.G.B.T.I.Q. matters, on love in modern Iran, on Middle Eastern cinema, on the perfidy of the Zionists — to spend time teaching Arabic, or Farsi? Did student enrollment in language courses drop off after the first year because of the palpable lack of enthusiasm of the instructors?
And how do the professors in the consortium reply to the evidence that they favored Islam over other religions, presenting it in an entirely positive light? It should not be hard to discover, by questioning students, if that charge is true. In teaching about Islam, did the instructors tell the students about the 109 Qur’anic verses that command Muslims to wage violent Jihad, to “fight” and to “kill” and to “smite at the necks” and to “strike terror in the hearts” of Unbelievers? Did they learn that Muslims are taught that they are the “best of peoples” and non-Muslims the “most vile of created beings”? Did they learn that Muslims are instructed not to take Christians and Jews as friends, “for they are friends only with each other”? Were they told about Muhammad’s claim, in the hadith, that “war is deceit” and “I have been made victorious through terror”?
Did the students learn about the misogyny in Islam? Did they learn that a Muslim husband may take up to four wives, that he may easily divorce them by uttering the triple-talaq (while divorce is much more difficult for Muslim wives), that he may “beat” a wife whose disobedience he suspects? Did they learn about little Aisha, whom Muhammad married when she was six, and consummated the marriage when she was nine years old and he was fifty-four? Or were students not told about Aisha at all, but told only that Muhammad “respected women” and “encouraged his first wife Khadija” to be a “businesswoman” (no anachronism is too ludicrous for these Muslim apologists)?
Were the students at the UNC-Duke consortium, as one suspects, taught that “Islam” itself comes from a root meaning “peace,” and that Muhammad brought “peace” to Arabia, without understanding that his pax islamica was the result of his military conquest of the formerly warring tribes? Were the students taught that Muhammad was “merciful,” but not taught that he had openly called for others to “rid him of” three people who had mocked him; all three – Asma bint Marwan, Ka’f bin al-Ashraf, and Abu ‘Afak — were then killed by his followers? Did they learn about his attack on the inoffensive Jewish farmers of the Khaybar Oasis, or of his taking as his wife the Jewish girl Saafiya, after he had murdered her father and husband? Did the students learn that Muhammad had ordered the torture and murder of Kinana of Khaybar?
Which parts of the Qur’an were given to the students to read? Let’s take a guess: undoubtedly the verse that says “there is no compulsion in religion” (2:256). Students were not told, however, that those who apostatize from Islam are to be killed, which certainly constitutes “compulsion in religion.” Nor were they likely to have learned that many non-Muslims, over the past 1,400 years, in order to free themselves from the onerous conditions of the dhimmi status, including payment of the Jizyah, convert to Islam – another example of “compulsion in religion.” Another verse that likely was taught to them is 5:32, which in its abridged form appears to condemn all killing, but in its full version actually provides the reasons when killing is justified; 5:33 then describes what methods of killing are sanctioned.
If all these dismaying aspects of Islam were not taught to students, then the government is right in charging the UNC-Duke consortium with presenting Islam in an absurdly favorable light, and the Department of Education has not just a right, but a duty, to cut funding to the consortium. There are surely other programs, in other universities, where Middle East foreign languages and area studies are taught in a more responsible manner, and to which the money formerly given to the UNC-Duke consortium can be redirected.
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