Middle East studies in the News
John Esposito and His Credentials [incl. the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding]
by Hugh Fitzgerald
In response to someone's relaying criticism levelled at him by Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch several months ago, John Esposito did not bother to respond. Or rather, his response consisted of an attack on the "scholarly" background of Robert Spencer -- no Ph.D. in Islamic or Middle Eastern studies, and the enclosure of what in Esposito's worldview constitutes an unanswerably impressive curriculum vitae that supposedly means game, set, match, without any need to actually adduce evidence of any kind about anything: "I attach my bio info" was the elegant phrase which was intended to answer all critics.
That won't do.
Esposito allows himself to believe that mere credentialism -- defense by inflated C.V. -- will be enough to protect him from detailed criticism. With the credulous, admiring Dinesh D'Souzas of this world, who live by such things (and carefully put down every article, every lecture in their own comically ever-expanding C.V.'s), that may indeed work. For intelligent people who are well-versed in the tragicomic and deceptive aspects of curricula vitae, and are skeptical of those suffering from elephantiasis, such a defense will elicit only contempt.
And Esposito certainly didn't act as if he thought his "credentials" would be enough to protect him when he hurriedly went back and interpolated the word "Jihad" into post-9/11/2001 editions of his books, even though he continued to mislead readers about the standard, accepted, main meaning of that word (for Muslims, not for non-Muslim apologists such as...John Esposito).
Esposito is a "scholarly" colleague of, defender of, friend of, Azzam Tamimi, a Hamas supporter, whose quality of mind and thought can be gauged from this YouTube entry.
He calls another "Palestinian" Muslim fanatic, Al Farooqi (stabbed to death, along with his wife, by one of his own disciples), his "ustadh" or teacher.
Esposito has been on the Arab gravy-train ever since he convinced a Lebanese contractor -- an islamochristian who, had he survived, might not have quite as happy with Esposito as he might have been a decade or two ago -- to fund his "Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding." There is in reality no "understanding" -- or rather, in a nice reversal, it's an understanding that passeth peace, and serves in effect, whatever its stated principles, as a long-running fount of apologetics for war, the war of Jihad, conducted not only or even, nowadays, mainly by qitaal (combat) but also by many other means, including "pen, speech."
And the propagandistic nonsense put out by the "pen, speech" -- in articles including one with the piquant title that was published, in timely or untimely fashion depending on your point of view, in September 2001 -- of John Esposito has the effect of keeping Infidels in a state of unwariness, distraction, and confusion. He's an updated Lord Haw-Haw, but at least the traitor William Joyce had to go all the way to Berlin to broadcast his propaganda on behalf of the enemy. Esposito can conduct his own operation -- the Prince Waleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown, right in the heart of Washington, D.C., just a mile or two from the Capitol and the White House. And he can continue to do this at a Jesuit institution, though one can be sure that the view of Esposito held by two well-educated clerics, Professor James V. Schall, S.J. and Pope Benedict XVI, is not one whit less critical than that to be found at this or similar websites.
What is to be done about the scandal of John Esposito and his exploitation of the Georgetown connection? Perhaps alumni contemplating gifts to Georgetown will have second thoughts, if made aware of the scandalous Saudi-funded operation run by John Esposito. They might make known that they will not be making such gifts after all, until such time as Georgetown severs ties with Esposito and his Center. They might make their gifts contingent on the university severing those ties, and removing the deceptive glitter of reflected glory that Esposito glories in and exploits whenever he refers to his "Georgetown Center" or, alternatively, his "Center at Georgetown," the one now being paid for by Saudi Prince Walid bin Talal, he of the facial tic and the check ostentatiously handed to Rudolph Giuliani.
Let him have his Saudi-funded operation. But let it be free-standing, without any further disgrace to Georgetown. Let the ghosts of Snouck Hurgronje and Joseph Schacht be properly propitiated at long last, for those highly intelligent ghosts -- oh, have you seen their c.v.s, by the way? -- see through Esposito. Place a paragraph by Snouck Hurgronje or Schacht on one side of the balance, and the collected works, coffee-table picture-books and all, of John Esposito on the other side, and see which side kicks the beam. Surely Snouck Hurgronje and Schacht are not pleased with the way John Esposito has been allowed to flourish and to exploit every kind of trust and naivete that the Western world and even the supposedly keen-minded Jesuits have displayed in his regard for so long.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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