Phi Beta Cons

Knowledge That Kills

Writing about Robert Irwin’s clear-sighted new book, Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and Its Discontents, Youssef Ibrahim succinctly summarizes what’s wrong with Middle East studies on campuses in this article . It is important enough to quote at some length: 

Remember Orientalism, that landmark book by the late Columbia University professor Edward Said? The 1978 work put the fear of God into any Western scholar who dared to discuss Islam, Muslims, or Arabs in anything less than superlatives…

…Irwin notes that “because of the possible offense to Muslim susceptibilities, Western scholars who specialize in the early history of Islam have to be extremely careful what they say, and some of them have developed subtle forms of double-speak when discussing contentious matters.”
What goes for academia has been happening in a more dramatic fashion in the press, literature, and the creative arts, where death threats, death sentences, and actual murders of writers, artists, and intellectuals have taken a toll.
Bottom line: You can’t talk about Islam, not really. Those transgressing are hounded like hunted animals…Islamic history is served up airbrushed in academia, and the result is a public denied knowledge…
The West is engaged in a major confrontation with Islamic terror, in which much of the Islamists’ ammunition is coming from the charities, schools, teachings, and treasuries of Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Gulf. There is no need to hold America’s door open to them.