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Misrepresenting the facts is not being understanding

Dan Martin | Sunday, September 28, 2003

In his defense of radical Islam (“Jesus of the Quran,” Sept. 25), Andrew DeBerry points out that the “recent academic convocation raised intellectual discussion about Middle Eastern and U.S. cultures.” I suppose this should be comforting. After the World Trade Center bombing, the Khobar Towers, the U.S.S. Cole, the embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, Sept. 11, an assassination attempt on the pope and countless other terrorist attacks perpetrated in the name of Islam in the past decade, we should be grateful that the University is encouraging us to engage in such pedantry.Months ago, when I first learned that my class was having an “academic convocation,” I was baffled. As our servicemen are dying fighting murderous Islamic fundamentalists across the globe, the University wrote to tell me that I was expected to sit in an ivory tower and have “intellectual” discussions about Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s “The Heart of Islam?”Nasr, who left Tehran University in 1979 (what happened in Tehran that year?) to live among the infidels in the Great Satan, uses his book to present a defense of Islam after Sept. 11 and recycles the inane argument that those who have killed in the name of Islam are not “true Muslims.”Nasr wonders why “there is no religion about which so much has been written in the West by those opposed to it as Islam.” It makes sense to me; I can’t remember the last time a Hindu crashed an airplane into the World Trade Center, the last time a Buddhist bombed an American embassy, the last time a Taoist blew up a nightclub full of tourists, or the last time an atheist carried out a suicide bombing on innocent schoolgirls. Perhaps most offensive is when Nasr writes, “When some people attack Islam for inciting struggle in the name of justice, they forget the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution.” Nasr equates systematic attacks carried out by Muslims on innocent men, women and children to the actions of our founding fathers. In essence, Nasr finds little difference between a suicide bombing of a bus of school children and our founding fathers throwing British tea into the Boston Harbor. So let me get this straight: Islamic terrorist groups organize plots to assassinate Pope John Paul II, and the University requires all freshmen to read about how Muslim terrorists are akin to our founding fathers. Muslim rioters have burned churches to the ground and killed countless Christians in Nigeria, and the University welcomes Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo to campus. Where is the outrage?If there is one thing I got out of Nasr’s book and the academic convocation, it is the bitter taste of so-called “intellectual discussion.” Needless to say, not all Muslims are terrorists, but most terrorists are Muslims. Rather than engage in “intellectual discussion” from an ivory tower, University officials should take a principled stand and strongly assert that Western secular democracy is superior to Islamic rule and make it clear that we as Americans and as Catholics will not bow to the uncivilized world.If sitting in an arena lauding Islam after attacks carried out in its name killed thousands of our countrymen on Sept. 11 makes me an intellectual in DeBerry’s eyes, I’d rather be another one of the ignorant riffraff.

Dan MartinfreshmanFisher HallSept. 26