‘The wrong kind of Islamoawareness’

Carol Towarnicky has a nice article below.

AT THE end of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week came a story about for-real fascists:

The Vatican beatified 498 priests and nuns who, if not actual fascists, certainly were aligned with the cause of Spain’s fascist leader, Francisco Franco, and were killed by Franco’s foes. The generalissimo claimed to be defending “Christian Europe” from communism when he overthrew Spain’s democratically elected government in the ’30s and established a 40-year dictatorship known for its atrocities – and its strong support for the Catholic Church.

There’s no evidence that the murdered priests and nuns agreed at all with Franco’s policies. And it would be absurd to blame fascism on Catholicism just because a lot of fascists were Catholic. Yet that’s the dynamic the speakers in the Islamo-Fascism Awareness campaign on 100 college campuses last week set up for American Muslims: If some extremist Muslims are terrorists, it must follow that something in Islam is to blame for terrorism.

If Muslims disagree with this analysis, they are urged not to be “in denial of the threat from within their culture,” in the words of ex-Sen. Rick Santorum, who lectured at Penn State, Penn and Temple.

Of course, Santorum was a model of reason compared to the headliner, Ann Coulter, who hasn’t backed off past statements calling Muslims “ragheads” and urging that we invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.

If this isn’t technically “hate speech,” it certainly is hateful, but to say something like that last week was to be charged with “political correctness” and attempting to “silence” the free expression of ideas.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m terrified of Muslims who use Islam to excuse mob violence, the repression of women and homosexuals, and suicide bombings. At the same time, these extremists are a fraction of the 1.3 billion Muslims in the world, and most see in their religion a message of peace, love and tolerance. They are no more responsible for what extremist Muslims do than pro-life activists are responsible for those who bomb abortion clinics.

And here’s something else I became aware of last week: There’s a strong subtext of political partisanship and provocation in the campaign, directed not only at Muslims but also at feminists, Democrats, environmentalists and at intellectual inquiry itself.

One ploy was to engender so much protest that the speakers could claim to be denied their right to speak. Another was to devise a trap for opponents. As outlined on the IFAW Web site, student sponsors were to create petitions with objectionable statements and then target groups least likely to sign them. That way they could trumpet the refusal of Muslims and feminists to sign as proof that they’re unwilling to condemn terrorism.

Another underlying theme is that left-leaning college professors are not giving “equal time” to the theory behind Islamo-fascism. This is correct. The facts simply don’t support the contention that there is such a thing as “Islamo-fascism.”

I suspect that Islamo-Fascist Awareness Week influenced fewer college students than it did those watching at home on Fox, and that’s a problem. When I wrote about the first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison, I received several e-mails purporting to quote the Koran as supporting violence toward Jews and Christians and charging that Ellison intended to impose shariah law in the United States, apparently from the back bench of Congress.

The good news is that people of good will see statements – such as the ones made against Congressman Ellison – for what they are: bigoted.

“We know nothing of Islam – nothing,” Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the leader of Reform Judaism in America, declared in a speech in September to the Islamic Society of North America. Yoffie called for a dialogue, and he’s right. It’s time we learned about Islam, not from publicity-seeking Christians or Jews or well-funded neocons, but from Muslims themselves. That’s the only “awareness” worth having.

Indeed, and I encourage everyone that really wants to learn about Islam, to visit your local mosque and talk to your Muslim neighbors rather than listening to bigots who give an outrageous view of all Muslims


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