Berkeley Muslim Conference Versus Western Civilization
What happens when Marxism meets Islam at one of
America`s most left-wing universities?
You get a conference called
"Deconstructing Islamophobia: Immigration, Globalization
and Constructing the Other," dedicated to the ideas
that the USA is the source of all the world`s evil and
Americans are mean-spirited hicks who denigrate Islam,
in particular by stereotyping the religion—even though
Islam has declared war on the U.S. and western
civilization by direct attack.
You have to wonder
the organizers, from something ominously called the
Center for Race and Gender at Berkeley, [Send
them mail] had in mind when they chose a woman in
maximum hijab as the event`s icon. Doesn`t that image
feed into the "stereotype" of women being forced
to hide their individual identities from society in a
Another negative was the use of the word "Islamophobia."
The dictionary defines a
phobia as an irrational fear. But a more accurate
description of Americans` attitude would be reasonable
antipathy toward a self-declared enemy.
Quite obviously, the followers of Islam and
multicultural socialism who presented this affair had no
interest beyond preaching to the converted and the
further indoctrination of left-leaning students already
in their clutches.
The two-day event was the mirror opposite of my last
Islam-connected experience on campus, as reported in
"Nonie Darwish vs. Berkeley Left on Islamo-Fascism."
The courageous Egyptian-born woman, now an outspoken
critic of Jihad, was repeatedly interrupted by
harassment and threats. Her description of growing up
female in an Islamic country was too threatening in its
honesty for the far Left to allow without
shrill attempts to shut her up. (Watch.)
That October evening was a disturbing experience.
Thuggish characters used intimidation in an attempt to
end the free speech of one brave woman. I felt like I
needed to be disinfected just from being there.
Religion of Peace and its leftist defenders put on
their reasonable hats for the Islamophobia extravaganza,
which scheduled around
two dozen mostly academic speakers from around the
world, at no small expense. There were no police
required to protect speakers from violent intimidation.
The audience was of one mind—USA
Islam good. There was no hostility because there was
no diversity of views: the program was designed to
present a unified ideology.
The major negative note was the endless complaining
that is now the norm when throngs of immigrants get
together. But they were downright cheerful in agreeing
that Americans are terrible people, full of
colonialist stereotypes against
It`s a wonder anyone wants to come here at all.
But the shared view of conference speakers was that
Americans` negative attitudes about Muslims arise from
generalizations about exotic foreigners as the
"other," and that thinking came from
colonialism, even though America
was never much of a colonial power. The ideology is
a handy formula for incorrectly explaining the world and
has little to do with actual history. But the level of
academic integrity is apparently very low in
Sunaina Maira, [Send
her mail]mentioned the Barbary pirates, who figured
in a genuine historical episode from America`s early
President Jefferson sent the U.S. Navy
to dismantle the Muslim raiders who had terrorized
the high seas for centuries. Robert C. Davis`s recent
book, Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters
that Islamic pirates took around a million Christians as
slaves over 300 years.
Maira also overlooked the invasions of Muslim armies
attacking Europe, with battles at
Tours in 732,
Lepanto in 1571 and
Vienna in 1683. Of course, the Sons of Allah are
back today, but armed with
visas instead of
But you wouldn`t know that from this one-sided
One academic analyst,
Peter Gottschalk, [Send
him mail]expressed shock and dismay that political
ethnic stereotypes (!) when drawing Arabs and
Muslims. He has published a
book on this subject, Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy.
Of course, people who frequent the real
stereotypes as being the general currency of
cartoon imagery. Furthermore,
Arab cartoons of Israelis, Jews and
Americans are not exactly generous depictions.
I was also bothered by the
use by some of extreme academic-speak, a version of
English so unintelligible that it made my head ache to
listen. The presentation of
Dina Al-Kassim [Send
her mail]was so full of gibberish I began writing
down her curious phrases, e.g.: "old Orientalism,"
"new racism, "
"Muslim collectivity," "sudden coherence," and
"social discord phantasm. "
I understand that the academic world in certain
fields trains its acolytes to speak this
mutant form of communication in order to converse in
code and self-identify to other members of the exclusive
group. It`s a strategy designed keep out the riff-raff
who insist upon meaningful debate.
But do many parents regard this dubious skill as
worth the tuition they are paying? I
More substantially disagreeable were some of the
characters given starring roles, in particular
Hatem Bazian, a lecturer in Near Eastern studies at
UC Berkeley. He created a controversy in 2004 when he
called for an
intifada in the United States (at a San Francisco
"peace" rally!), an incident
recorded on the photoblog
Zombietime. But he put aside the bomb-thrower
persona to play the genial MC at the culminating panel
of A-listers on the final night.
Another person of disrepute was Parvez Ahmed, if only
because of his position as the Chairman of the Board for
Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR), an
organization that has seen
several of its high-ranking officials prosecuted and
imprisoned for terrorism. He has personally suggested
SLAPP lawsuits would result if anyone spoke ill of
CAIR. His remarks at the wrap-up session were a boring
recitation of CAIR-gathered statistics to portray
Muslims residing in the US as successful high-achievers
who nevertheless suffer from the indignities foisted
upon them by cruel redneck Americans who don`t celebrate
In fact, FBI data published in 2007 show that
hate crimes against Muslims have fallen sharply. But
facts were in short supply while the conference
positioned "Islamophobia" as a new academic discipline.
"Placing Islamophobia within the context of ethnic
studies would allow researchers to look more broadly at
the confluence of race, culture, ethnicity and religion
that define the American Muslim experience today,"
according to the San Francisco Chronicle`s backgrounder
on the conference (Looking
at people`s phobia of Muslims by Matthai
Kuruvila, April 16, 2008).
It`s infuriating to see a taxpayer-supported state
university being used as a propaganda tool by the
Islamic fifth column. The academic world leans left in
its politics, but what I heard was worse—poisonous
rhetoric, designed to undergird an angry fifth column in
And this was an open forum. You have to wonder what
these people say when the public is not invited.
Daniel Pipes recently remarked at a
talk I attended at Berkeley, the alliance of the
academic left and Islamists has big payoffs for both:
the left gets to recruit from an expanded pool of
well-educated young people who despise America, and the
Muslims glean the legitimacy of the university.
If the shock troops for global authoritarian Islam
were smart, they would continue walking through the open
door that universities willingly offer. The welcome mat
is out for America-haters with PhDs who can talk the
talk. Well-paying careers are available to glib Muslims
who can peddle totalitarian values in the guise of
multiculturalism. And we citizens are fools to allow our
universities to be used to undermine the American
Brenda Walker (email
her) lives in Northern California and publishes two
ImmigrationsHumanCost.org. She is happy to have had
an old-fashioned American liberal-arts education where
she wasn`t forced to celebrate diversity.