Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Losing the Propaganda War II

Islamist propaganda has a foothold in American schools at all levels. I didn’t realize how pervasive it was until I interviewed Richard Thompson, president and general counsel of the Thomas More Law Center. Last week’s column described inroads into middle schools in California and New York City (The NYC school principal has since resigned under pressure after distributing “Intifada in NYC” T-shirts). This week, I report Thompson’s comments about textbook publishers and universities.

When I asked how parents might monitor who teaches what in our schools, he said, “Well, right now there are several web sites out there [for information], but on a personal level, they have to look at the textbooks their children are bringing home. What do they say about Islam? About Christianity? . . . For instance, a textbook published by Houghton Mifflin, a reputable publisher, was talking about how tolerant Muslims were of women. If anything, they’re probably the most intolerant when it comes to women. And, in another place, they talk about how tolerant Muslims were toward Jews and Christians.”

I told him about my visit to the Holy Land last May where our Palestinian Christian tour guides told us how Palestinian Christians had been the majority in Bethlehem and in Nazareth for centuries, but that’s reversed in just the past few years. Palestinian Christians are persecuted by Palestinian Muslims and moving away from their ancestral homelands. Similar things are happening in several other Middle East venues as Radical Islam gains strength.

“It reveals what the long-range plans are,” Thompson said, “and although they may put a friendly face right now to their activities, their ultimate aim is to become dominant, and once they become dominant, they are going to persecute every other religion.”

As for how parents could monitor things, Thompson continued: “They have to write the school and say, ‘I think this book is inaccurate’ and show where. You can also put pressure on the publishers themselves. Teachers should do that too. Publishers will react. You can do is find out where teachers are getting their instruction. Check out training seminars for subjects such as Islamic History. Are these seminars being put on by organizations funded by some Saudi Arabian prince?”

That brought us to what is going on in American universities. “There was a study done,” said Thompson, “I think by someone from Fordham University - that showed how some of these Arab princes would fund public relations firms who then would get professors [to teach] seminars on . . . Islamic history. And these seminars were basically pro-Muslim and anti-Christian. So [parents can check on what qualifies a] teacher to teach Islamic history. Have they gone to any seminars? What seminar did they go to? Then they’d have to research the seminar to find out if it is funded by some Arab prince, or whether it is a legitimate seminar that is going to teach Islamic History in an objective fashion.”

“Is the US Department of Education involved in any of this?” I asked.

“That’s another ironic situation,” he said, “because the federal government developed these curriculum standards K-12 and the public school system tried to perform those standards . . . the federal government gave them money, gave them a stamp of approval, and university Middle East Study Centers would train teachers to teach Middle Eastern History. But they were, in fact, paid for by the Saudis.”

“Yikes,” I said.

“[Many] universities have compromised their objectivity because they are getting large sums of money from Saudi princes. There was an effort in Congress back in 2006 to have universities report the amount of money that they were getting from Saudi Arabia in their Title VI International Education bill - it was House bill 609 and it was sponsored, I believe, by Indiana Representative Dan Burton. It didn’t get passed and I don’t know there has been a similar bill introduced, but this would have been an easy way for Americans to [check up on universities]. I know there was one Saudi prince who donated $40 million to Harvard and Georgetown Universities - $20 million each.”

“Those are huge sums,” I said.

“Yeah. They’ve already tainted Harvard University with that money. Now Harvard goes out and taints a bunch of innocent school teachers [who are] thinking that they’re getting the best kind of information from a superior school and it’s basically promoting Saudi Arabia propaganda. A lot of universities are that way. It’s not just Harvard and Georgetown - there are lists of universities. . . . I know that there are some really good web sites out there, again, like ‘Campus Watch’ that monitor these studies.”

“Here’s the concern I have,” Thompson continued. “We have Americans fighting Islamic terrorists all across the world, yet we are inviting them into our schools and universities to taint our own students and to destroy our civilization and our culture from within.

“We’re not putting enough resources into the propaganda war,” I suggested.

“We’re winning the war on the battlefield,” said Thompson, “but we’re losing the war in Washington, DC and in the ivy halls of learning.”


Anonymous said...

Bravo, once again, Tom!


Anonymous said...

Your propaganda columns are excellent examples of the very thing you would alert your readers to. Long on vague assertions and shallow generalizations, short on particulars and supporting information.

The citation of "a someone from Fordham University" is inaccurate. What your interviewee was probably referring to is a book titled The Stealth Curriculum written by Sandra Stotsky and published with support from the Thomas B Fordham Foundation. The Fordham Foundation web homepage states unequivocally: "We are neither connected with nor sponsored by Fordham University."

This is a little ironic given your woofing over the accuracy and objectivity of history text books. Can we expect a printed correction?

Doug Hjelmstad

Tom McLaughlin said...

Welcome to my blog Doug. I've missed your acerbic letters to the editor.

Don't hold your breath waiting for a printed "correction," and who are the "we" you refer to? What you left out in your ellipsis were Thompson's words: "I think." They're similar to your word "probably" and they're known as qualifiers.

It was a 5500 word interview and I think Thompson did pretty well even if you don't. You're not worried about radical Islam and that's fine as long as you can stay in liberal la-la land. Did you come out for even a little while after 9-11?

Check out the link above on home grown terrorists and try opening your mind while you read it. It's by a former NY Times reporter who has opened hers.