Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Brigitte Gabriel, the author of two New York Times Best Sellers “Because They Hate” and “They Must Be Stopped.” She is also the founder and president of ACT! for America, the largest national security grassroots organization in the U.S. with over a quarter of a million members, 750 chapters nationwide and a full-time lobbyist on Capital Hill. She just issued a report titled: Education or Indoctrination? The Treatment of Islam in 6th through 12th Grade American Textbooks.
FP: Brigitte, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Congratulations on issuing your new report, Education or Indoctrination. What inspired you to embark on this project?
Gabriel: When I was doing research for my second book “They Must Be Stopped,” I came across numerous instances where information that was being put in school textbooks or taught in classrooms was inaccurate, sometimes outright false, and at times sounded more like indoctrination than education. ACT! For America Education executive director and I discussed this at length in 2009, because when we traveled and spoke to groups about this they were very concerned. We investigated the issue more closely and found there had been a handful of previous studies done on this, but we believed much more needed to be done. We also knew that if we did a report, we could leverage its impact by drawing on the strength of our growing grassroots organization. So by late 2009 we drafted a plan, created the budget to do it, and embarked on the research in early 2010.
FP: How broad was your research?
Gabriel: We retained a top-notch team of experts with years of experience in this area. They selected 38 textbooks based on how widespread they are used in the schools and how much they address the topic of Islam. To give you an example of the breadth of the research, our team spent two years conducting the research, and comparing what they found with credible historical sources as well as Islamic sources. The results were astonishing, even to those of us who are familiar with this issue.
In some books the errors were less frequent and egregious, but in most of the books errors of the commission and omission occurred with such frequency that it was clearly evident the average student today is receiving a rewrite of history that paints a rose-colored picture of the history and central doctrines of Islam that is not supported by the facts. The report is painstakingly and thoroughly documented, with nearly 375 footnotes and a bibliography of nearly 275 sources.
FP: What type of topics do you address in your report?
Gabriel: The report examines everything from the founding of Islam and its early history, up through modern times. The report addresses a broad range of topics such as:
- Muhammad and Jerusalem
- Relationship between Muhammad and the Jews of Medina
- Sharia law
- Status and treatment of Jews and Christians under Islam
- Jihad and the early Islamic conquests
- Islam and women
- Islam and slavery
- The Crusades
- The Holocaust
- The Arab-Israeli conflict
FP: Share a few examples with us.
1) Slavery: While the books went into great detail exposing and condemning the Atlantic slave trade run by Europeans, they were all either completely or nearly silent on the Islamic slave trade, which began eight centuries before the Atlantic slave trade and continues in some parts of the world today. This double standard treatment of Islam vs. the West was fairly common in the books we reviewed. The danger here is that students are led to draw conclusions about the West with respect to slavery that they aren’t led to draw when it comes to Islam.
2) Islamic Conquests: Book after book used phrases like “Muslim conquerors treated those they conquered with tolerance.” Some books claimed, falsely, that conquered Jews and Christians retained religious freedom. One book said, “Full religious freedom.” Another said the Muslim conquerors were “extremely tolerant.” Such a rewrite of history, when there is so much historical data that contradicts these false assertions, could well be termed educational malpractice. And like the issue of slavery, look how it leads students to rosy, positive views of the history of Islam that simply don’t square with the facts.
3) Treatment of Women: The books typically either devoted little attention to this subject, or when they did, they overlooked or downplayed the second-class treatment of women under Islamic law and in Muslim cultures. Actually the word downplayed is an understatement. Some even claimed that women had more rights than they did. Again, this was consistent with a narrative the books created about the supposed tolerance and goodness of historical Islam.
4) Jihad. Not surprisingly, the books generally toed the politically correct line that “Jihad” is essentially a “struggle to be a better Muslim.” I like how my friend Dr. Walid Phares describes this description of Jihad as “Islamic Yoga.” Students get almost no understanding of the centrality of Jihad to the historical advance of Islam through conquest and the creation of the Islamic Empire. They are therefore conditioned to agree with the apologists for radical Islam and the talking heads from groups like CAIR who describe Jihad completely differently from what happened in history and how the vast majority of ancient and contemporary Islamic scholars define Jihad. Again, this fits the narrative the books have created about historical Islam that simply isn’t accurate.
5) 9/11. This is especially disturbing. It’s one thing to rewrite ancient history. People can debate about the reliability of various historic accounts. However, we all know, except for the conspiracy crowd and politically correct deniers, that 9/11 was an act of Jihad perpetrated by 19 Islamic jihadists. Yet almost without exception, the textbooks we reviewed did not tell the students this. They called them “Terrorists,” some referred to Al Qaeda (but didn’t describe what it is), but they completely ignored any reference to the terrorists as “Muslims” or Jihadists.” One book described them as those who believe they are fighting for a noble cause! It would be as if school books written in 1951 described those attacking Pearl Harbor as an enemy fleet without ever telling students who they were or why they did it. It is an astonishing rewrite of modern history done obviously to appease the forces of political correctness – but it’s not historical education.
FP: What can people do — especially those who are very concerned about this and have kids in schools?
Gabriel: They should go to www.actforamericaeducation.org, and read either the executive summary or the full report or both. They can download and print either or both. There is an action item option on that page where they can find out things they can do. We mailed the executive summary to over 70,000 state and local school board members, and this year a number of our chapter leaders and members met with school board members and school officials to bring their attention to this report. We are going to continue this effort over the next two years, and our goal is to convince as many of the book publishers as we can that they need to revise their books so that they treat the history and central doctrines of Islam more accurately. We’re not opposed to teaching about the major religions in the public schools, as this is part of our history and culture. But the teaching should be accurate, and when it comes to Islam, most of the time it simply isn’t.
FP: Brigitte Gabriel, it was an honor to speak with you. Thank you for everything you do for the cause of freedom and liberty.
We encourage all of our readers to go to actforamericaeducation.org and to read the report and then to spread the word and make a difference.
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