Monday, April 28, 2008

Today in the New York Times, the story of Debbie Almontaser, who had a dream of a school named for the Lebanese Christian writer Khalil Gibran, in which students of all ethnicities and faiths would learn Arabic language and culture.

Naturally, this got her branded a fundamentalist jihaddist by the mob that forced her out of the job.

If spreading fundmentalist doctrine was, in fact, Almontaser's intent, it really wasn't working out. Accounts of the school's discipline problems during Almontaser's brief tenure include a non-Muslim student calling a Muslim teacher a "terrorist". And, to be fair, those discipline problems do suggest something about the school's leadership had gone awry.

But, say the critics, that's not the point. The point is that she's Muslim, and Muslims are the Borg, and if we don't watch out, we will be assimilated. Or something like that. As Daniel Pipes, the intellectually credentialled thug (Ph.D., Harvard, 1978) who led the charge, explains:

Mr. Pipes and others reel off a list of examples: Muslim cabdrivers in Minneapolis who have refused to take passengers carrying liquor; municipal pools and a gym at Harvard that have adopted female-only hours to accommodate Muslim women; candidates for office who are suspected of supporting political Islam; and banks that are offering financial products compliant with sharia, the Islamic code of law. ...

“It is hard to see how violence, how terrorism will lead to the implementation of sharia,” Mr. Pipes said. “It is much easier to see how, working through the system — the school system, the media, the religious organizations, the government, businesses and the like — you can promote radical Islam.”

Never mind that the real radical Muslims in New York had been thoroughly put off by Ms. Almontaser's ties to Jewish groups. And why should anyone mind that? Pipes certainly didn't care much:

In [Pipes's] article in The Sun, he referred to Ms. Almontaser by her birth name, Dhabah, and called her views “extremist.” He cited an article in which she was quoted as saying about 9/11, “I don’t recognize the people who committed the attacks as either Arabs or Muslims.” (As The Jewish Week later reported, Mr. Pipes left out the second half of the quote: “Those people who did it have stolen my identity as an Arab and have stolen my religion.”)
You know, I can't even figure out how the first half of the quote can possibly be read as support for the attacks, or militancy of any kind, but then again, I don't have the credentials of a Pipes. (Or the family history; his father was Richard Pipes, who built a fine career exaggerating the Soviet threat. Windmill-tilting may run in the blood. Or it may just be the family business.)

But, on the other hand, the critics do have a point. Muslims who come here have to adapt themselves to America --- a land where religious advocacy on points of law and "faith based" governance generally may only be practiced by radical fundamentalist Christians.


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