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And why do they persist? Because they are encouraged and promoted by Islamic Studies programs, by craven politicians, and by the mainstream media. I will never forget a TV interview I saw a couple of years ago in Norway. A Muslim woman politician told a female reporter that men and women are completely equal under Islam. The reporter smiled and nodded and went on to the next question. Or think of the 2008 lecture in which the Archbishop of Canterbury argued for sharia as an inevitable and benign addition to Western jurisprudence. And who can forget President Obama’s famous June 2009 speech in Cairo celebrating Islamic history and civilization, in which nearly every sentence was either an outrageous exaggeration or an outright falsehood?
The kind of blatant untruths about Islam that President Obama served up in Cairo are cultural-elite mantras. Some of those who recycle these lies are ignorant enough to think they are true. Others know better. But they have decided that when it comes to the subject of Islam, ideology matters more than truth. “Respect for difference” matters more than truth. Such is the essence of multiculturalism. For a good multiculturalist, the ultimate virtue is not embracing the truth but looking away from it in the name of cultural sensitivity. If one encounters evil in some non-Western culture – especially Islam – one must turn a blind eye to it. And one must call day night and night day: one must equate blatantly mendacious, whitewashing cliches about Islam with seriousness, intelligence, and open-mindedness, and equate frank, unvarnished accounts of Islamic theology, history, and culture with ignorance and bigotry.
Imagine how different things could be! Imagine if politicians, academics, and mainstream journalists actually began discussing Islam in a spirit of objectivity and intellectual responsibility. Imagine if books like the van Rooys’ and Bostom’s were prominently and favorably reviewed, made required reading in university courses, and became the sources of common wisdom about Islam for us and for our posterity. Alas, what is really happening – even though such solid compendiums of objective information are readily available – is that all too many members of the next generation, if they are “learning” anything at all about Islam, are “learning” it from slippery propagandists like Esposito and Armstrong. This is, not to put too fine a point on it, an intellectual travesty, an educational scandal, and a cultural disaster. And it does not bode well, needless to say, for the prospects of what some of us still like to think of as the Free World.
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