Recently, two Chatham, New Jersey mothers went on Fox News complaining that their children’s school was “indoctrinating” their kids into (or about) Islam. The NJ Star-Ledger latched on to the episode big time, claiming that the interview was one-sided and lecturing that the school was merely teaching children about Islam within the context of teaching the basics about all major world religions. In Islamic indoctrination in Chatham! A Fox News fantasy, the Star-Ledger writes:
Most Americans know little to nothing about Islam, polls have found, yet have a negative view of the faith. Most don't know any Muslims personally, and say they aren't interested, or don't know whether they want to learn more about the world's second-largest religion.
This is the challenge facing U.S. educators. And as if that weren't bad enough, among this happily ignorant population are some tin foil hats who actually believe their children are being indoctrinated into Islam, by our public schools. And Fox News is happy to put them on air, completely uncontested.
Two mothers from the New Jersey suburb of Chatham, Libby Hilsenrath and Nancy Gayer, recently went on Tucker Carlson's Fox show to complain that a simple cartoon that teaches about Islam is indoctrinating their 7th graders, in a story feverishly embraced by conservative media.
The article concludes with a slam against what the newspaper labels “America's paranoia about Islam.” Without judging these two parents, Fox News, or the Star-Ledger’s take on the episode (I don’t have much confidence in the Star-ledger editorial board’s objectivity), let me say that there is an element of truth to the Star-Ledger’s claim. Many Americans have allowed the very real threat of Islamic totalitarianism to spill over into bigotry and paranoia against all Muslims. Donald Trump played to that irrationality with his “ban all Muslims” campaign promise (which, as president, he has apparently abandoned). But what of those who evade the horrific nature of Islam as it is practiced today?
I left these comments, edited for clarity:
If there is paranoia about Islam, there is an equal and opposite paranoia against legitimate critics of Islam. This reactionary paranoia is evident among people whose knee jerk reaction to any legitimate concern about Islam is to smear the critic as “Islamophobic.”
It’s true that learning about Islam is important, so as to gain an objective understanding of Islam without becoming a bigot or paint with a broad brush, condemning all Muslims for the wrong-doing some. We should know that there was once a Golden Age of Islam that produced progress and some great thinkers. We should know that Islam indirectly helped pave the way for the revival of Western Civilization after its Christian Dark Age, by saving and reintroducing the works of Aristotle. We should also know that Islam subsequently abandoned its Golden Age, sliding into its own Dark Age that persists to this day in many parts of the Muslim culture. We should learn that there are enlightened Muslims and former Muslims working at great risk to themselves to bring about an Islamic reformation in much the same way Christianity was lifted and tamed after its own murderous political domination.
The facts are, Islam is the only religion today that harbors a large imperialist political movement, based on its own Holy Scriptures, that seeks a totalitarian theocratic state; that rejects secular values like freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of speech and press, the separation of religion and state, and political equality for women and non-Muslims; and that regularly advocates for murder, rape, and terror as tools to achieve its goals; and that calls for the death penalty for criticizing or renouncing their religion.
It’s not every Muslim who holds these views. But at least a large minority of Muslims, most of whom wouldn’t themselves “martyr” themselves, nonetheless support these goals. There is a real threat, and recognizing that is not paranoiac or bigoted. It is honest. Dishonesty is on the side that whitewashes away the fundamentalist threat emanating from within Islam.
The War Between Enlightenment and Fundamentalist Political Islam—and the Choice All Muslims Must Make
Great Islamic Thinkers Versus Islam—Andrew Bernstein for The Objective Standard
The Evil of Whitewashing Islam—Craig Biddle for The Objective Standard
The Tyranny of Silence—Flemming Rose
Winning the Unwinnable War: America's Self-Crippled Response to Islamic Totalitarianism, by Elan Journo