In a move described as an initiative to promote “religious pluralism,” Duke University announced Tuesday it would broadcast a weekly call to prayer for Muslims from the Duke Chapel bell tower each Friday at 1 p.m. Yesterday, however, the University reversed itself. “Duke remains committed to fostering an inclusive, tolerant and welcoming campus for all of its students,” said Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations. “However, it was clear that what was conceived as an effort to unify was not having the intended effect.”
Thus Duke takes a rare break from its long tradition of fostering a politically correct, hypersensitive atmosphere on campus -- one rife with hypocrisy. The same university that will not acquiesce to the MSA in this case is the one that hosted the annual conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement (PSM) in 2004, during which attendees defeated proposals to moderate PSM's "Guiding Principle #5,” that refuses to condemn terrorism. It was followed up by several speakers more than willing to bash Israel as an apartheid state, comparing their treatment of Palestinians to "Algiers under the French or Poland under the Nazis," deriding American media for a "campaign of misinformation by Zionist-leaning news editors,” and accusing the Jewish State of "attempting to actually rid itself of the Palestinians while taking as much of their land as possible.”
In 2010, Duke’s ostensible commitment to pluralism led them to abruptly cancel an event about motherhood scheduled for the Duke University’s Women’s Center. They were upset that its sponsor, Duke Students for Life (DSFL), was initiating pro-life discussions elsewhere on campus. Duke Women’s Center Gender Violence Prevention Specialist Martin Liccardo (seriously) told the group their pro-life stance was too “upsetting” for some students.
Duke is also where Chick-fil-A’s campus outlet closed in 2013. The administration notified the university’s Center for LGBT Life that “West Union will close next summer for renovations and we've already made the decision not to have Chick-fil-a in the building when it reopens.” That decision followed expressions of concern from the gay rights organization, now known as the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity at Duke. Rick Johnson, associate vice president of housing and dining, insisted the closing had nothing to do with Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s comments in opposition to same-sex marriage. But he also said he had been contacted by members of the Duke community demanding Chick-fil-A’s removal. “I told them it’s really a moot point,” he said at the time. “Their contract is up at the end of this year. It seemed to satisfy them.”
And then there was Duke’s ultimate paean to political correctness. When three Duke lacrosse players were falsely accused of raping a woman and unjustly charged by district attorney Mike Nifong—who had suppressed evidence and committed perjury before recusing himself—88 Duke professors published a letter stating “what is apparent every day now is the anger and fear of many students who know themselves to be objects of racism and sexism, who see illuminated in this moment’s extraordinary spotlight what they live with everyday.”
They did so prior to anyone being charged with a crime. And rather than apologize as the case was falling apart, they doubled down, citing the “disaster" of an atmosphere “that allows sexism, racism and sexual violence to be so prevalent on campus,” and further insisting "the legal process will not resolve these problems”—even as they claimed to believe in the presumption of innocence. Stephen Baldwin, a professor of chemistry who avoided the rush to judgment, perfectly described the ethos at work. “There was a collision between political correctness and due process,” he said, "and political correctness won.”
Not this time. And while the reversal is welcome news, one suspects optics, rather than principles, was the driving factor here. Duke was hammered on social media, led by evangelist Billy Graham’s son, Franklin. "As Christianity is being excluded from the public square and followers of Islam are raping, butchering, and beheading Christians, Jews, and anyone who doesn’t submit to their Sharia Islamic law, Duke is promoting this in the name of religious pluralism,” Graham wrote on Facebook Wednesday.
In an interview yesterday with the Charlotte Observer, Graham further illuminated his opposition, insisting Duke should not allow the chapel to be used for the call to prayer. “It’s wrong because it’s a different god,” he said. “Using the bell tower that signifies worship of Jesus Christ, using (it) as a minaret is wrong.” And while he did say Muslims should be free to worship on campus, he added a dose of sarcasm to the mix. “Let Duke donate the land and let Saudi Arabia build a mosque for them.” In reference to the Paris atrocities he was even clearer. “Islam is not a religion of peace,” he added.
Later Thursday on Facebook, he also addressed Duke’s insensitivity and its apparent double-standard:
The Muslim call to prayer that has been approved to go out across the campus of Duke University every Friday afternoon for three minutes includes “Allahu Akbar”—the words that the terrorists shouted at the onset of last week’s massacre in Paris. It includes the proclamation that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. Will evangelical Christians be allowed the same three minutes weekly to broadcast the message across campus that God Almighty of the Bible sent His Son Jesus Christ to offer forgiveness of sins and salvation to all who will repent, believe, and call on His Name? Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
Mohammad Banawan, administrator at the Muslim American Society of Charlotte, criticized Graham’s position. “Those comments are trying to incite hatred,” he declared, adding it is wrong to impugn any religion based on the actions of a small group of extremists.
Perhaps it is. But the MSA is hardly small group. Since its inception at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in January of 1963, the MSA has expanded to nearly 600 chapters nationwide, including 150 affiliated with MSA National.
Furthermore, it is a group with a long track record of ties to Islamist extremism. The group was founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). That would be the same MB established by Hasan al-Bannain Egypt in 1928 that spawned al-Qaeda and Hamas, spied for the Nazis in the Middle East, and fought for the Nazi war machine in two specially formed Muslim Waffen-SS Handschar Divisions during WWII. The Brotherhood’s doctrines comprise the core of Islamist jihadism as practiced by Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Hamas and the government of Iran, and it was designed to function as the chief perpetrator of the Islamist crusade against Western societies.
The MSA apple doesn’t fall far from the MB tree. During the Texas Holy Land terror funding trial, where five defendants were convicted of financing terrorism, a Muslim Brotherhood document emerged identifying the MSA as one of several groups described as MB “friends”—all of whom shared a common goal of "eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands ... so that ... God's religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions.”
The MSA’s creation was part of a Saudi Arabian-backed effort to establish international Islamic organizations back in the 1960s, in order to spread its Wahhabist ideology. “The Saudis over the years set up a number of large front organizations, such as the Al Haramain Foundation, the Muslim World League, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, and a great number of Islamic ‘charities,’” explained Alex Alexiev of the Center for Security Policy in 2004. "While invariably claiming that they were private, all of these groups were tightly controlled and financed by the Saudi government and the Wahhabi clergy.”
In 2007, a New York Police Department report characterized the MSA as an "incubator" for Islamic radicalism. That assessment was echoed by Former FBI Special Agent John Guandolo, who described the group as "a recruitment tool to bring Muslims into the Brotherhood,” and the the "focal point” for the MB in America.
In 2011, terrorism expert Patrick Poole took it one step further. "The Muslim Students Association has been a virtual terror factory,” Poole contended. "Time after time after time again, we see these terrorists -- and not just fringe members: these are MSA leaders, MSA presidents, MSA national presidents -- who've been implicated, charged and convicted in terrorist plots.”
They include al Qaeda cleric and Colorado State University student Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a drone strike following his orchestration of the Fort Hood massacre and other plots; Ramy Zamzam, president of the MSA’s Washington, D.C. council, convicted in Pakistan for attempting to join the Taliban and kill American troops; Omar Hammami, leader of Somalia’s al-Shabaab terrorist group and former president of the MSA chapter at the University of South Alabama; and imprisoned al Qaeda fundraiser Abdurahman Alamoudi, who served as national president of the MSA during the 1980s.
A 2010 exchange at the University of California-Davis between Freedom Center’s David Horowitz and an MSA member encapsulates the group’s jihadist inclinations. "I am a Jew," Horowitz said. "The head of Hezbollah has said that he hopes that we will gather in Israel so he doesn't have to hunt us down globally. For or against it?”
"For it,” she coldly declared.
Duke’s decision will undoubtedly be criticized by the doyens of political correctness, many of whom demonstrated their own faux commitment to pluralism and freedom by pixilating, or failing to show, the “offensive” cartoons that engendered the recent Paris carnage, or by insisting that free speech has its limits if it might offend mass murderers.
Keeping in mind the free exchange of ideas to which Duke is ostensibly committed, perhaps it is time for the university to engender a campus-wide discussion on the difference between religious pluralism and dhimmitude, and the inherent conflict between Sharia Law and a Democratic Republic. The MSA has been allowed to hide behind a veil of campus-sanctioned political correctness for far too long.
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