Middle East studies in the News
Has Islamic Indoctrination Overtaken American Schools? [on Saudi funding, refs. Title VI, Sandra Stotsky, Harvard's Center for Middle Eastern Studies]
by Editorial Board
There is an insidious program featuring a white-washed, and thus untrue, version of Islam that has permeated our educational institutions, beginning in kindergarten, winding its way through the 12th grade, and into our universities. In circuitously slick ways, the Saudi government has managed to insinuate its own version of Middle Eastern culture and history, and strictly positive views of Islam, upon millions of American students thus indoctrinating them to a biased, pro-Islamic position when the full truth is far more complex and, not surprisingly, not quite as glowingly favorable.
Journalist Stanley Kurtz has explored the depth of this interference and warping of American kids' perceptions of Middle Eastern culture in an extremely illuminating essay, Saudi in the Classroom. It is apparent that these infiltrations are designed to establish a powerful influence upon the way in which our young people will view the Middle East and Islam; and they are designed to weaken our children's understanding that Islam itself is used as a basis for terror attacks against America and the West today. This indisputable fact, as evidenced by bin Laden's frequent exhortations and quotes from the Koran as well as an enormous amount of historical and current literature, is critical to our understanding the nature of the enemy we face.
When we realize what is actually occurring, we must conclude that our educational system, from K through 12 and including our universities, is now the vital second front in our war against global terror. No concerned American can afford to ignore what is being perpetrated with our own taxpayer funds, and which, inexplicably, has been expanding and gaining momentum right under our noses but outside of any mandated oversight or scrutiny.
It is a matter of the greatest urgency that Americans begin to focus on this intellectual invasion of our unique American culture or the very foundations of our freedoms and liberty will be eventually weakened to the point of collapse, just as tragically as the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed last week. The worst of this ongoing situation is that so far, few Americans are aware of this gigantic impediment to our children's acquiring knowledge of the world they will inherit, and what will threaten it.
There is an unsung hero who first became aware of the methods by which Saudi operatives took control of an essential part of our educational system. Sandra Stotsky is a former director of a professional development institute for teachers at Harvard, and a former senior associate commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Education. Ms. Stotsky served in this capacity from 1999 to 2003. This was the period during which the Massachusetts Department of Education responded to the 9/11 attacks by utilizing Harvard's Center for Middle Eastern Studies — which, as a prestigious university and a federally subsidized Title VI "National Resource Center," seemed an obvious choice.
The project and its objectives appeared benign enough, and even conducive to positive aspects of "multicultural" understanding. Yet this has proved to be a "grand illusion," if not a potentially deadly attack upon American traditions and values. Stotsky learned that at the outset, a teacher-training center was established with the announced goal of instructing those assigned to provide information to our young students about Islamic history, emphasizing key contemporary questions, such as the nature of Islamic Fundamentalism and terrorism, the lack of democracy in the Middle East, and the necessity for demanding equal rights for women in the Muslim world.
So far, so good. Right?
As this federally subsidized Title VI "National Resource Center" at Harvard was scrutinized more closely, researchers learned that the original promise of "balance and objectivity" had been compromised, and that the expanding outreach program was delivering seminars promoting, not describing, Islam while sharply criticizing alleged American prejudice against the Muslim world. It soon became clear that Saudi-trained teachers were, and still are, inserting a dangerous and biased-against-America narrative into the heart of our American intellectual fabric.
In sum, Sandra Stotsky concluded that what is happening is nothing less than a pernicious sabotage of our educational system by offering nothing less than indoctrination, not illumination, about a very potent force responsible for the war that has been declared against America. In this context, Ms. Stotsky remarked, "If Harvard's outreach personnel had designed similar classroom exercises based on Christian or Jewish models, then People for the American Way, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the A.C.L.U. would descend upon them like furies."
Stotsky discovered that one of the key teaching texts is "The Arab World Studies Notebook," acknowledged by its editor, Audrey Shabbas, as deliberately favoring the Arab point of view. More appalling is the revelation that this continuing "outreach" program has refused to include the most recent book by one of the world's top tier experts on Islam, Bernard Lewis. Professor Lewis's What Went Wrong: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East has been barred from inclusion in this blatantly pro-Arab and pro-Muslim curriculum. This exclusionary stance on the part of the program's directors leaves little more to question about whether the Saudi agenda is, in fact, a stealth assault on American education – beginning at the kindergarten level. Stotsky's conclusion is that the program is blatantly distorted and manipulative. Needless to say, it must be examined, resisted and eliminated, if a generation of Americans is to be afforded a realistic education on solid facts pertaining to the history of the Middle East, Islam and Muslim expansion, devoid of the completely exonerated interpretation which Saudi activists are now spinning and pushing.
When Sandra Stotsky's tenure as supervisor of Harvard's Center for Middle Eastern Studies ended in 2003, she was sufficiently concerned that she wrote a most informative book, outlining her observations and conclusions on the inherently threatening dangers of Saudi Arabia's deliberate meddling in American education. Her book - The Stealth Curriculum: Manipulating America's History Teachers – is an exposé of a threat to all Americans. It should be read, understood and then acted upon by contacting congressional representatives, insisting that oversight and supervision of Harvard's Title VI National Resource Center be put into place with all due dispatch. Pro-Islamic propaganda in our most prestigious institutions of learning, as well as in our K-12 schools, must be resisted and eliminated.
Clarifying this, Stotsky wrote in The Stealth Curriculum: "Most of these materials have been prepared and/or funded by Islamic sources here and abroad, and are distributed or sold directly to schools or individual teachers, thereby bypassing public scrutiny." Stotsky goes on to note that after 9/11, the Saudi government sent U.S. schools thousands of packages of educational material that, for example, attributed the Middle East's problems to Western colonization.
Clearly, every concerned American must become active in promoting serious bi-partisan reform legislation to deal with Saudi Arabia's sinister intrusion into the heart of our education system. And further, every parent reading this article must demand of his children's schools to know what of Islam is being taught to their children. If the version taught is "The Arab World Studies Notebook," or a version that ignores common and obvious current problems such as the brutal subjugation of women, virulent anti-Semitism or political Islam's goal of global domination, get it out of your schools immediately.
The camel's nose is already under our tent. It's time we pushed him back out.
For more on this exceedingly critical issue for every American, read the special four part investigative report - Tainted Teachings, What Your Kids are Learning about Israel, America, and Islam - published by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA). As the JTA put it: "Saudi Arabia is paying to influence the teaching of American public schoolchildren. And the U.S. taxpayer is an unwitting accomplice, often bypassing school boards and nudging aside approved curricula....These materials praise and sometimes promote Islam, but criticize Judaism and Christianity. Ironically, what gives credibility to...these distorted materials is Title VI of the Higher Education Act. Believing they're importing the wisdom of places like Harvard or Georgetown, they are actually inviting into their schools whole curricula and syllabuses developed with the support of Riyadh."Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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