I was moved to think once again this week of Gibbon’s now-much-quoted line on an Islamic Oxford: “But for the victory at Tours, the Koran might now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Muhammed.”
Well, hey, don’t miss Islamic Awareness Week at Harvard! This does not, apparently, consist of improving one’s awareness through rigorous courses on Islam. As the Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus reports (“Hijabs at a Harvard Gym”), it’s more like closing a Harvard gym briefly to accommodate modest Muslim women and broadcasting d the Muslim call to prayer from the steps of Harvard’s main library.
Ms. Marcus speculates that the late William F. Buckley, author of God and Man at Yale, might not approve of the current state of “God and Allah at Harvard” and recalls Buckley’s now more than ever-relevant remark that he’d rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the phone book than the faculty of Harvard. To which Ms. Marcus says, “Get a grip.”
“It’s not offensive to have the call to prayer echoing across Harvard Yard, any more than it is to ring church bells or erect a giant menorah there,” wote Marcus. Oh, yeah.
Ms. Marcus’s admits she “share[s] the apprehensions stirred up by the more radical followers of Islam, with their drive to restore the caliphate and subjugate women. But I come to this issue as a member of another minority religion, Judaism.” What incredible ignorance! She doesn’t recognize that Islam (which, alas, may not be a minority too much longer in Europe!) poses a threat her minority religion doesn’t. And, oh, yes, Islam may not be nice to women (to put it very mildly).
That old anti-Christian Edward Gibbon most likely (like Ms. Marcus) have defended the muezzin at Harvard. But, at least, he had some grounding in western civilization and its history. Ms. Marcus seems unable to look beyond certain trendy ideologies of the last few decades (such as feminism) in evaluating Islamic Awareness Week. How one wishes that the bright people who work for nation’s most prominent newspapers attend Western Civilization Awareness Week!