In a May 1 online statement, Scottsdale Community College (SCC) President Christina M. Haines condemned a World Politics course’s module on Islamic terrorism and announced that the offending professor would apologize. This statement and SCC’s demands for a wider purge of the course materials presented a shocking example of politically correct academic thought police enforcing de facto sharia censorship of critical inquiry into Islam.
As Jihad Watch Director Robert Spencer has already reported, a Muslim student initiated the controversy at the end of April. The student complained to college officials about three multiple-choice course questions concerning Islamic doctrines justifying terrorism.
Once posted to the Internet, the questions provoked a firestorm of online Islamic rage, including numerous death threats to the course professor, Nicholas Damask. He accordingly went into hiding along with his wife and nine-year-old grandson.
Haines’ statement demonstrated once again how feelings of victimization have imposed an Orwellian academic dictatorship over factual scholarship:
SCC deeply apologizes to the student and to anyone in the broader community who was offended by the material. SCC Administration has addressed with the instructor the offensive nature of the quiz questions and their contradiction to the college’s values. The instructor will be apologizing to the student shortly, and the student will receive credit for the three questions. The questions will be permanently removed from any future tests.
The statement gushed with hackneyed Ivory Tower pieties that prioritize multicultural, not intellectual, diversity and undermine the separation of objective truth from falsehood among battling ideas. “SCC cultivates success when individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds are respected and empowered to contribute,” Haines stated. Meanwhile, she irrelevantly cited SCC’s nondiscrimination standards “on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age,” as if facts could discriminate. Oblivious to the irony regarding Damask, a former Heritage Foundation Salvatori Fellow who is among the almost-extinct breed of conservative professors, she praised that “we all benefit by embracing a diversity of voices, viewpoints, and experiences.”
SCC’s responses to the charges against Damask also included for his signature a prewritten letter to the offended student. Thus Damask would have to grovel and make a “sincere apology” for his “offensive material,” even though a “simple apology may not be enough to address the harm that I caused, but I want to try to make amends.” He has rejected this letter, which, like all of SCC’s responses to the Damask affair, have arisen completely outside of any established disciplinary procedure.
No person of integrity such as Damask would sign SCC’s letter, which effectively declares that he has been reeducated and has learned to love SCC’s Big Brother. “I need to view the educational material being taught through many perspectives representing our diverse student population at SCC and respecting the many cultures and religions in our world,” Damask would declare. In addition to removing the three condemned questions, he would “be reviewing all of my material,” all the while being “truly thankful that you raised this issue as it makes me a better instructor to align with the values at SCC.”
Various Muslim commentators actually argued online that Damask’s “course should be banned as it promotes hate.” As one Muslim commentator on Facebook stated:
Removing three questions will do absolutely nothing as the class still propagates hateful information. To associate terrorism to Islam out of the exclusion of everything else, is to pose a threat to the Muslim community. Your students will grow to hate, fear and avoid us and may take a vengeful stance—all out of spreading misinformation.
The Facebook commentator falsely claimed that the meticulous Damask needed more “thorough research” on the subject of Islamic doctrine, but evidence suggests that his critics are the ones with questionable views.
For example, Imraan Siddiqui, the head of the Arizona chapter of the Hamas-derived Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), whipped up frenzy against Damask. Siddiqui likened him to “hate groups” spreading “misinformation and indoctrination.”
Similarly Manzoor Hussain, the author of Islam: An Essential Understanding for Fellow Americans, commented online on a news report about Damask. Hussain stated that SCC “did the right thing by apologizing for the use of Islamophobic questions.” In opposition to comments condemning the radical CAIR, he asserted that “CAIR defends the rights of Muslims, and many Muslim Americans support it.”
However, Newspeak terms such as “Islamophobia” cannot conceal Hussain’s questionable human rights views. He has praised and posted on his Facebook page a “wonderful video” that provides “excellent education to Muslim parents” on “to properly raise their daughters.” Specifically, this Muslim-produced video and accompanying website offer “Six Tips for Raising Muslim Girls.”
“Build their love for modesty” is one of the video’s lesson for Muslim parents of daughters, which means namely that they should wear the Islamic hijab head-covering. “Start teaching your daughters about the importance of modesty from a young age,” the video states, and “celebrate your daughter if she inclines towards wearing the hijab. She should know her parents are proud of her.” Hussain apparently did not consult women such as the ex-Muslim atheist Yasmine Mohammed, who have written bitterly about the oppression of such Islamic modesty norms.
Saidah Khalil’s reader comments also expressed defense of CAIR. Yet like CAIR, she has revealed on Facebook her anti-Israel hatred. Unsurprisingly, she supports the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) economic warfare movement against Israel.
Like others who demanded Damask’s firing, reader commenter Beverly Slapin angrily dismissed SCC’s treatment of the Damask affair as completely insufficient bunk. SCC needs to apologize to the Muslim community and the entire student body for allowing this obvious example of Islamophobia to go unchecked—and the teacher needs to be fired. The administration needs to deal with Islamophobia—along with racism, sexism and all the other “isms” that are allowed to flourish in our educational institutions—without hesitation, without excuses.
Like those of Khalil, Slapin’s Facebook posts would offer Damask a good case study in the interrelationship of jihadists and leftists in the struggle to destroy Israel. She has condemned Israeli “massacres” of Palestinians, which has supposedly been ongoing since 1948 with the support of Western countries including the United States. She has correspondingly supported the Middle East Children’s Alliance, a BDS advocate, and, akin to the fired CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill, demanded that “there’s no excuse. FREE, FREE PALESTINE!”
Damask received more angry reader comments from Atahar Malik about “racist hate,” but Malik’s Bangladeshi background only further justifies Damask’s scholarly investigation of jihadist doctrine. Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan, broke away from West Pakistan, now Pakistan, in a 1971 independence war which ended with India invading Bangladesh and forcing a Pakistani surrender. The Pakistani military and jihadist allies from Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) engaged in genocide and mass rape against Bangladesh’s rebels and Hindu minority, war crimes that later led to Bangladeshi prosecutions and executions of JI officials.
Malik’s Facebook comments about Pakistan therefore hardly “align with the values at SCC”:
Pakistan is the living hell on earth. Its name should be changed to Fuckistan. Pakistanis are the most mean-spirited and narrow-minded people in the world, next are the Northern Indians and Gujaratis.
Malik’s postings also correctly condemn the “terrorist” JI, which massacred Bangladeshi intellectuals in 1971, and its North American affiliate, the Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA).
Any such disturbing aspects of Damask’s accusers have, though, gone unnoticed by the mainstream media that has effectively treated him as an Unperson, as revealed to this author in a blog talk radio interview. No mainstream journalist has bothered to contact him and news reports do not even mention his name. Rather, they simply uncritically discuss “discriminatory questions regarding the religion of Islam.”
As Damask has discussed with this author, his experience illustrates how “lunatics” have corrupted academia’s humanities programs, for which he recommends simple abolition. While his views have attracted great interest among local Arizona Republicans in the general public, he has become a pariah in what is supposed to be an institution of higher education serving the common good. Citizens who fund public institutions such as SCC and broader college programs should take note whether their hard-earned tax dollars are informing students about jihadist dangers or merely whitewashing them.
Clear death threats were made both to Prof. Damask and to his family, requiring them, including his grandson and his elderly parents, to move out of fear for their safety. More than a week went by, during which the school officials allowed those death threats – including demands for his home address — to remain on the college’s social media page, allowing the hatred directed at the professor to be spread, giving others the same dangerous ideas, and increasing the mortal threat to the professor and his family. Threats were also made to shoot up, and to burn down, the school. Why didn’t the college officials immediately remove all of the threats on the school’s social media page? Or take down the page altogether? Had they no desire to protect the professor, to prevent his being subjected to an on-line campaign of vilification, hate, and death threats?
Damask said the student never made a formal complaint and school officials sent him a pre-written apology letter for the student and told him to sign it. Damask did not sign the letter and says he has no plans to apologize.“I’ll never apologize for teaching the content that I am, or the manner in which I’m teaching it,” he said.
Now that a higher authority, the Maricopa County District Board, has declared its support for Professor Damask, and will be investigating the way that SCC administrators handled the whole matter, the tables have turned. The outrageous behavior of administrators, that included their leaving up the Instagram account of SCC for more than a week, letting the death threats against Professor Damask mount up, will now be subject to examination. So will the “prepared letter of apology” that Chris Haines tried to threaten Damask into signing. Her outrageous assault on academic freedom just might end in her being dismissed. That would be a consummation devoutly to be wished.