This is the state of American academia today: Gordon Klein has taught courses in business law, tax law, and financial analysis at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management for no fewer than forty years. He is a respected academic who has been on CNBC and quoted in the Wall Street Journal for his economic expertise. But now, after being suspended, he has filed suit in California Superior Court against the university regents over his suspension. Klein has a good case: He was suspended from teaching at UCLA for the crime of refusing to discriminate and treat his black students differently from how he treated others.
“I was suspended from my job,” Klein explained, “for refusing to treat my black students as lesser than their non-black peers.” His ordeal began on June 2, 2020, when “a non-black student in my class on tax principles and law emailed me to ask that I grade his black classmates with greater ‘leniency’ than others in the class.”
In a sane society, a “non-black student” who demanded that black students be graded with greater “leniency” than others would be castigated as a racist. But in the Left’s funhouse mirror ethics, war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength, and treating students differently based on race is racial justice.
The student wrote to Klein: “We are writing to express our tremendous concern about the impact that this final exam and project will have on the mental and physical health of our Black classmates.” Klein believes that the student was using an online racial justice form letter: “There was no project in this class, and it was unclear to me who the ‘we’ in this case was. I suspected the student simply used a form letter he found online and neglected to change the subject.”
The letter went on to claim that black students were too traumatized by racism to do well on the final exam: “The unjust murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, the life-threatening actions of Amy Cooper and the violent conduct of the [University of California Police Department] have led to fear and anxiety which is further compounded by the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on the Black community. As we approach finals week, we recognize that these conditions place Black students at an unfair academic disadvantage due to traumatic circumstances out of their control.” It concluded: “This is not a joint effort to get finals canceled for non-Black students, but rather an ask that you exercise compassion and leniency with Black students in our major.”
Klein notes that “in a subsequent conversation with a university investigator,” the student who wrote the letter made it clear that he “intended that the requested adjustments apply to Black students and not the class generally.” To strengthen the case, the student invoked the Anderson School of Management’s “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion” agenda, which stresses that a “commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion as fundamental to achieving Anderson’s mission.”
https://libertyfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/logo_v6_225x110.png00Robert Spencerhttps://libertyfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/logo_v6_225x110.pngRobert Spencer2021-10-07 04:25:262021-10-07 04:25:26Madness: UCLA Suspends Professor for Refusing to Assign Grades Based on Skin Color
Note that “a person yelling ‘a Nazi salute in protest to masking requirements’ is not a Nazi, as the NSBA is trying to imply. He is calling the school board Nazis. Meanwhile, the fascist clowns of the NSBA would almost certainly object most strenuously to any honest exposition of the motivating ideology behind an actual form of terrorism, that is, Islamic jihad terrorism.
by Dave Huber, College Fix, September 30, 2021 (thanks to Henry):
The National School Boards Association has asked President Biden to look into slapping a “domestic terrorist” label on “angry” parents and community members who speak their minds at board meetings.
“America’s public schools and its education leaders are under an immediate threat,” the group says in its letter to the president. “[As] acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”
The NSBA wants the Gun-Free School Zones Act, the USA PATRIOT Act, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the Violent Interference with Federally Protected Rights statute, and the Conspiracy Against Rights statute all invoked to help prevent alleged threats, Education Week reports.
The Departments of Education, Homeland Security, and Justice are requested to participate in a review, along with the FBI.
On Sept. 22, the NSBA, along with AASA, the School Superintendents Association, issued a joint statement condemning “online and in-person threats, abuse and harassment.” AASA President Daniel Domenech said that while his group respected the right of free speech, “We cannot—and will not—tolerate aggression, intimidation, threats and violence toward superintendents, board members and educators.”
But some of the instances cited by the NSBA in its letter appear to be free speech, to say nothing of “terrorism.” For example, the group cites a person yelling “a Nazi salute in protest to masking requirements,” while another’s actions “prompted [a] board to call a recess because of opposition to critical race theory.”…
https://libertyfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/logo_v6_225x110.png00Robert Spencerhttps://libertyfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/logo_v6_225x110.pngRobert Spencer2021-10-03 07:35:152021-10-03 07:35:15National School Boards Association Asks President Biden to Label Its Critics ‘Domestic Terrorists’
Fadel Alkilani, a student at Washington University in St. Louis, is an enterprising young man who clearly has a bright future ahead. On Saturday, as people all over the world mourned the deaths of 2,977 people in jihad attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., Alkilani busied himself with pulling up 2,977 flags that had been placed on campus in honor of the victims and throwing them away. Among Leftists today, that’s the kind of behavior that leads to rapid career advancement– clearly, Fadel Alkilani is an up-and-coming young man.
The flags were part of the Young America’s Foundation’s “9/11: Never Forget Project”: “YAF activists at high schools and colleges across the country are keeping alive the memory of those lost to radical Islamist terrorists in the world-changing events of September 11, 2001. The iconic displays made up of 2,977 American flags—one for each innocent life taken—bring schools, communities, and individuals together to pay tribute and continue our promise to ‘never forget.’”
YAF members at Washington University duly placed the 2,977 flags, only to have Alkilani, wearing a mask and his hair in a bun, come pluck the flags up and fill trash bags with them. In a video YAF posted on Twitter, Nathaniel Hope of Washington University’s hearty band of College Republicans confronts Alikani, who justified his action by claiming (falsely) that the flag display was a “violation of school rules.” He maintained that he, on the other hand, had not violated any university rules, telling Hope: “I did not violate any university or legal policy. Now go away.”
WOW: A student senator at @WUSTL was caught on video throwing away 2,977 American flags from conservative students' 9/11: Never Forget Project memorial.
Later, Alkilani posted online a “Formal Statement on the Flag Relocation Incident,” in which he sanctimoniously employed that tried-and-true strategy of Leftists everywhere: He claimed victimhood. Instead of apologizing for his callous, thuggish, and fascist act, Alkilani wrote: “Currently, there is a massive harassment campaign propagated primarily by Washington University College Republicans, as well as the national Young American’s Foundation [YAF] regarding an incident that occurred at approximately 6 am on Saturday, September 11, 2021. There is a large amount of misinformation circulating, and I seek to explain both what occurred and why it happened.”
The “misinformation” that he proceeds to clear up is the claim that he was “‘stealing’ the flags. This is due to a WashU College Republicans member, taking a video of me collecting flags in plastic bags. However, I had no intention of removing the flags from the Mudd Field area, and my full protest did not have the chance to be actualized. My planned protest was to place the bags of flags on Mudd field, along with various statistics [including those below] explaining the human cost of 9/11 in the past 20 years. On the sides of the bags, some writing may be visible, but the full statement was not outlined at the time of the video. I did not deface, destroy, damage, nor steal any flags, nor did I interfere with any registered event time. I assert that I did not violate any University Code of Conduct policy, though the conduct process is undergoing. Additionally, I was verbally and physically harassed by numerous WashU students and WUPD officers, whom I plan to report through official channels.”
https://libertyfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/logo_v6_225x110.png00Robert Spencerhttps://libertyfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/logo_v6_225x110.pngRobert Spencer2021-09-15 03:59:272021-09-15 03:59:27Muslim Student at Washington University Removes 2,977 American Flags Commemorating 9/11 Victims
On Thursday, the Virginia Department of Education published a video entitled, “Culturally Responsive and Inclusive 9/11 Commemoration,” detailing how Virginia public school teachers should handle the upcoming twentieth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 jihad terror attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans. The emphasis on that day and thereafter must not be on the ideology of the attackers or the ongoing jihad terror threat; rather, the focus is entirely on acknowledging and eradicating what the video calls “anti-Muslim racism.”
The video is narrated by a hijab-wearing woman, Amaarah DeCuir, who describes herself as “Professorial Lecturer, School of Education, American University & Paragon Education Consulting, President.” One would think that with all her expertise, Ms. DeCuir would know the elementary fact that Islam is not a race, and that there are Muslims, and Islamic jihadis, of all races. And of course she does know that, but she is operating in this video on the basis of the Leftist contention that opposition to jihad violence and Sharia oppression of women really stems from an irrational animus against Muslims as a people, and hence is a “racialized” form of “hatred.”
Yes, it’s toxic nonsense, but that’s the Left for you. In any case, Virginia public schools that implement DeCuir’s recommendations (and since the Virginia Department of Education published her video, it would appear that the department wants that to be all of them) will give students a presentation on the twentieth anniversary of the worst attacks ever on American soil that will portray Muslims as the primary victims of those attacks, and make herculean efforts to deflect attention away from the extremely inconvenient fact that the attacks were perpetrated in the name of Islam and in accord with its teachings.
If you doubt that fact, note that in March 2009, five masterminds of the 9/11 plot, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi bin As-Shibh, Walid bin ‘Attash, Mustafa Ahmed AI-Hawsawi, and ‘Ali ‘abd Al-’Aziz ‘Ali – styling themselves as the “9/11 Shura Council” – wrote a lengthy communiqué titled “The Islamic Response to the Government’s Nine Accusations.” In it, they called the 9/11 attacks an “act of Jihad,” and explained: “The Jihad in god’s [sic] cause is a great duty in our religion.” They quoted numerous Qur’an verses, including the notorious “Verse of the Sword”: “Then fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, and besiege them and lie in wait for them in each and every ambush” (9:5) and another enjoining Muslims to “strike terror into the heart of the enemies of Allah” (8:60).
Attorney and columnist Marina Medvin, who broke the story of this video, notes that the 9/11 Commission Report “mentions ‘Islam’ over 1,000 times and the word ‘Muslim’ over 1,000 times,” for obvious reasons. But Virginia students will learn nothing about any of that. Instead, they’ll be taught about “phobias stemming from 9/11,” “anti-Muslim racism spikes,” and the evils of the fictional “Muslim Ban.” DeCuir offers as an example of “harmful teaching” any “teaching about Islam and/or Muslims” in connection with 9/11, except, evidently, insofar as Muslims were victims of the American response to the attacks.
https://libertyfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/logo_v6_225x110.png00Robert Spencerhttps://libertyfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/logo_v6_225x110.pngRobert Spencer2021-08-30 04:52:592021-08-30 04:52:59Virginia Public Schools to Focus on Muslims—As Victims—in Teaching About 9/11 On Attacks’ 20th Anniversary
A slight pause on American academia’s out-of-control-freight-train rush to submit to Sharia. But the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is still flogging this case in court, hoping to use it to destroy the freedom of speech and criminalize criticism of Islam.
Maricopa County Community College District will pay professor Nicholas Damask $155,000 in exchange for his agreement not to sue district personnel, who last year violated his expressive rights in an attempt to quell criticism of his quiz questions on social media. The district also pledged to strengthen its commitment to academic freedom.
Damask, who teaches political science at Scottsdale Community College, came under fire on social media last May after a student complained that quiz questions in Damask’s world politics course were offensive to the student’s religious beliefs. Damask said the college suggested it would require him to meet with an Islamic religious leader to review the content of his course because a student complained that three of Damask’s quiz questions about Islamic terrorism were “in distaste of Islam.”
In response, the college directed Damask to issue an apology — pre-written for him by a communications staff member — and implied that he would be investigated. The college ultimately backed down after an urgent letter from FIRE.
Now, the district is finally paying for SCC’s unconstitutional knee-jerk reaction to online criticism….
A lawsuit brought by the Council on American-Islamic Relations remains pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. (A district court judge dismissedthe lawsuit in August for failure to state a claim, and CAIR appealed.)…
https://libertyfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/logo_v6_225x110.png00Robert Spencerhttps://libertyfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/logo_v6_225x110.pngRobert Spencer2021-04-18 07:04:072021-04-18 07:04:07Arizona community college must pay $155,000 to professor it forced to apologize for criticizing Islam
“Many Jews involved with progressive causes are increasingly feeling this tug, if not outright war, between their Jewish and political identities,” wrote antisemitism historian Deborah E. Lipstadt in her 2019 bookAntisemitism: Here and Now. President Joe Biden’s decision to resume American aid to the terrorist-sponsoring Palestinian Authority (PA) on Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day only highlighted this ongoing conflict for Jewish Biden supporters such as Lipstadt.
Lipstadt in her book strove to give an impartial review of modern antisemitism across the ideological spectrum, but her evident political biases marred otherwise insightful analysis. Particularly her antipathy towards Donald Trump stood out, as she equated this uniquely pro-Israel president with the notoriously anti-Semitic British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. “I don’t know if either of these men is an anti-Semite,” she wrote, but “both have facilitated the spread of antisemitism.”
This Trump-Corbyn “comparison is so flawed as to be absurd,” correctly countered conservative Jewish writer Ben Cohen wrote in a 2019 review of Lipstadt’s book. As he explained:
Trump may be guilty of occasionally encouraging or even enabling anti-Semites in small ways, but Corbyn is an anti-Semite, and one with a public and considered fondness for the world’s most vicious and bloodthirsty haters of Jews.
As Lipstadt’s own book documents for quizzical readers, Corbyn’s scandalous record includes defending viciously anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists and calling Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists “friends.” By contrast, she discussed certain truly troubling Trump statements, including his 2015 comments during the Republican presidential primaries to the Republican Jewish Coalition. “None of this, however,” Cohen accurately assessed of Trump, “places him remotely in the same corner as Corbyn, who is blatantly guilty not only of enabling but of fomenting anti-Semitism as an integral element of his ideological worldview.”
Lipstadt in her book offered a leftist apologia for Corbyn’s antisemitism. “Fundamental to Corbyn’s political weltanschauung is an automatic—critics might call it knee-jerk—sympathy for anyone who is or appears to be oppressed or an underdog.” Thus she concluded:
It is doubtful that Corbyn deliberately seeks out anti-Semites to associate with and to support. But it seems that when he encounters them, their Jew-hatred is irrelevant as long as their other positions—on class, race, capitalism, the role of the state, and Israel/Palestine-are to his liking.
By contrast, Lipstadt demonized Trump as a bigot, even though President Trump actually denounced white supremacists, anti-Semites, and other extremists on numerous occasions. “Trump was, and still seems to be, unwilling to castigate, much less mildly criticize, actions by the white supremacists, racists, and anti-Semites who voted for him and who continue to support him,” she wrote without substantiation. In this context rang hollow her qualification that “I’m not suggesting, of course, that they represent all of Trump’s supporters.”
Bizarrely, Lipstadt in her anti-Trump screeds overlooked the history of openly racist Democratic presidents such as Woodrow Wilson. “In the United States, for the first time in many decades—perhaps for the first time ever—these haters believe that they have sympathetic allies in the White House.” Trump “has not disabused them of that notion,” she wrote, even though anti-Semites such as the perpetrator of the 2018 mass shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue repeatedly denounced Trump for being too pro-Jewish.
A vaguely defined “alt-right” loomed large in Lipstadt’s book. She defined Milo Yiannopoulos, a pro-Israel, ex-gay man who once “married” a black man, as among this hateful “movement’s ideologues.” His former employer, the conservative Breitbart News (where this author has written), and its former editor, the Trump adviser Steve Bannon, also drew Lipstadt’s scorn. Without any particular examples, she criticized:
There is no credible evidence that Bannon is himself an anti-Semite, but it is extremely distressing that right-wing Jewish groups that trumpet his support for Israel ignored the racism, anti-immigrant, and white nationalist views promulgated by Breitbart News when he ran it.
Again without citing evidence, Lipstadt fretted that under Trump “alt-right” members “have managed in recent years to establish direct links to people with influence, including those in high-level government positions.” In addition to his pro-Israel record, Trump strengthened federal government efforts against college antisemitism, won increased black support with his economic growth policies, and appointed the first openly gay man to cabinet rank. Yet she counterfactually wrote:
Trump’s anti-Semitic followers believe that his dog whistles give them free rein to openly acknowledge their contempt for racial minorities, Muslims, homosexuals, and Jews. They are convinced, not without reason, that they have had a direct impact on government policy.
Any anti-Trump rant would be incomplete without myths about the violent 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia, protests. Trump had rightfully condemned “many sides” here among battling white supremacists and leftist extremists such as Antifa, whose destructiveness has only become clearer in subsequent years. Yet Lipstadt whitewashed the latter by condemning Trump for “moral equivalency between racists and the counterdemonstrators.”
Lipstadt also promoted in her book and subsequently the ubiquitous Charlottesville hoax that Trump had praised racist demonstrators there as “very fine people.” While condemning these racists, he had used these words in general reference to people debating and protesting on both sides in Charlottesville over a Robert E. Lee Confederate war memorial. But Lipstadt scolded Trump for praising “‘very fine people’ marching with the white supremacist protesters.”
Concerning Islamic antisemitism, Lipstadt stood on firmer ground. She recognized that “within sectors of the Muslim community, particularly in Europe, there is endemic antisemitism” and some Muslims “have been raised to hate Jews.” She observed:
Various studies, including one conducted in 2017 by the University of Oslo, have shown that attacks on European Jews, particularly physical assaults, come in the main from radicalized Muslims. Interviews with German Muslims, including well-educated professionals, feature comments about Jews that sound as though they have come directly from the notorious anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Brief hints of this antisemitism’s historical basis in Islamic doctrines, which define the subjugated dhimmi status of Jews and other non-Muslims under Islamic rule, appear in Lipstadt’s book. Under various European and Islamic religious discriminations, “Jews were hated because they refused to accept Christianity and, later, Islam.” Jews had “centuries-long second-class treatment in Islamic lands” and even today Muslim-majority states are rife with discrimination against Jews and other religious minorities. In Israel, Islamic rages arise when Jews “return to their ancient homeland, which was for centuries part of the Islamic empire.”
Rather than critically analyze this history, Lipstadt offered more politically correct explanations for Islamic antisemitism. She suggested that European Muslim antisemitism “is part of a larger problem of integration” and referenced not Islamic, but “leftist antisemitism,” when analyzing the notorious Palestinian-American political activist Linda Sarsour. Meanwhile Lipstadt invoked the totalitarian neologism “Islamophobia” amidst her warnings against “demonization of Muslims.”
Lipstadt also insightfully examines economic warfare against Israel in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, a “direct descendant of Marxist antisemitism and anti-Zionism.” A key BDS demand is a “right of return” to Israel of millions of descendants of some 600,000 Arabs who fled what became Israel in its 1948 independence war. This demographic destruction of Israel’s Jewish state, she wrote, or “negation of Jewish nationhood is a form of antisemitism, if not in intent, then certainly in effect.”
Irrespective of practical political effects, Lipstadt noted, BDS aims “to toxify Israel” by presenting it as uniquely evil among the world’s nations. In American academia, this “impact of BDS on Jewish students is quite real. Jewish students running for office in student government have also been uniquely targeted by Israel-bashers.” This demonstrates that a “myopic focus on Israel is anti-Semitic in consequence, if not in intent.”
Lipstadt’s anti-BDS stance makes ironic her acclamation of Biden’s victory days after the November 2020 presidential elections. In Biden she saw a “leader of the country who will unequivocally condemn antisemitism and extremism.” Yet his numerous anti-Israel administration appointees have included BDS supporters.
Such matters must appear secondary to Lipstadt, whose apocalyptic denunciations of Trump during and after the 2020 elections angered many Jews with what they condemned as Holocaust-trivializations. She helped launch on September 29, 2020, a Jewish Democratic Council of America campaign advertisement that compared Trump’s presidency to the 1930s rise of Nazi Germany. She later coauthored a Washington Post editorial that analogized Trump’s “democracy denial” challenges to the election results to “Holocaust denial.” Jewish legal scholar Nathan Lewin castigated this “shameful Holocaust denial” in a “rant with a blatant political bias,
Israeli Jews, 70 percent of whom supported Trump’s reelection in surveys, have greater fear of Biden resuming the Middle East policies of President Barack Obama, whom Lipstadt supported in both the 2008 and 2012 elections. Biden, for example, has already lifted sanctions imposed by Trump on the dangerous, nuclear-proliferating Islamic Republic of Iran. Biden also seems to agree with Lipstadt’s hackneyed analysis in her book that the “current situation in the West Bank is untenable” and the “most reasonable solution would be two states,” Israel and Palestine, with secure borders. By contrast, Israeli Jews have personally experienced how Islam’s “endemic antisemitism” precisely in the Muslim-majority Middle East has only turned Israeli “land for peace” territorial withdrawals into jihadist bases for attacks on Israel.
“Fight the good fight,” Lipstadt penned in autographed book copies she distributed to a November 19, 2019, audience at the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC, including this author. Yet many would agree with the book reviewer Cohen that her analysis is unfortunately “deeply unsatisfactory” in places, such as her book endnotes, where she uncritically relies upon Southern Poverty Law Center leftist smear merchants. “Although she is by no means blind to left-wing anti-Semitism, her eyesight must be adjudged impaired—as indeed it also is on the subject of Islamist anti-Semitism,” Cohen wrote in 2019 in words only more valid today.
Meanwhile, it is a 100% certainty, not 99%, but 100%, that Berea College administrators and professors would recoil in horror at the prospect of hosting an event focusing on the threat of jihad violence and Sharia oppression. In the extraordinarily unlikely off-chance that such an event were scheduled, it would be inundated with charges of “Islamophobia” and “racism” to the extent that most students would not attend, for fear of the social stigma attached to going. But this? Demonizing and smearing half the American electorate? That’s just fine. And of course it plays right into the agenda of the political and media elites, who have embarked upon a clear initiative to defame all supporters of the former president as “extremists,” as they did previously with foes of jihad terror and Sharia injustice, and destroy them accordingly. The U.S. is entering an extremely dark period, but it has been a long time in the offing.
A Kentucky college is scheduled to host an event critical of Donald Trump and associating the former president and “white citizenship” with terrorism.
A flyer obtained by Young America’s Foundation (YAF) describes the event as a way to “resituate Trumpism and white citizenship as forms of white terrorism enacted against the majority of people living within the borders of the U.S. and beyond.”
Titled “White citizenship as terrorism: Make America Great Again, Again,” the event is set to take place on March 17 via Zoom, according to a page on Berea College’s website. The Women’s and Non-Gender Non-Conforming Center is sponsoring the session with the Law, Ethics, and Society at the college.
YAF said it obtained the flyer through its Campus Bias Tip Line. It features images of protesters carrying tiki torches at the racially charged Charlottesville, Virginia, protests at the beginning of Trump’s presidency.
The flyer also takes a critical approach to the “Make America Great Again” slogan. “Despite calls for multiculturalism and color-blindness, segments of white America mourn their so-called loss of privilege, consistently begging to return to the nostalgic past in which their esteemed value as white citizens went unquestioned,” it reads.
“Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ appears to follow suit by offering a seemingly benign promise to return America to a previously ‘great’ past. But the offer to ‘Make America Great Again, Again,’ requires we refocus on how the last four years of daily tweets and administrative actions redefine whiteness. If terrorism is defined as the use of violence and threats to create a state of fear towards particular communities and identities, then this is what ‘Trumpism’ is at its core.”
Berea defended the event in a statement to Fox News Thursday.
“To some, the provocative title of the event implies that Berea is not a welcoming place for individuals with differing political views,” a statement from the college read….
“Slavery cannot be intrinsically evil in Islamic law,” Georgetown University professor Jonathan Brown stated during a July 20, 2020 webinar. This disturbing assessment came during a 2019-2020 series of presentations on his 2019 book, Slavery & Islam, whose theses have hardly improved upon this Muslim convert’s past scandalous comments on slavery.
On February 7, 2017, Brown had caused furor while presenting a paper on slavery and Islam at the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT). Thereby he noted the traditional Islamic doctrine expressed in Quran 33:21 that Islam’s prophet Muhammad is an “excellent pattern” of behavior. Therefore this example sanctified the slavery practiced by him and his companions, including sex slavery, a doctrine that had justified slavery throughout Islamic history.
Once public, such views completely negated Brown’s disclaimer at the presentation’s beginning. “I always make some hyperbolic statement that really makes sense in the context,” he noted, such that he would face accusations of “calling for slavery.” Given such concern over criticism, he expelled this author from the presentation before it started.
Brown’s elaboration of his views during his subsequent book tour has been hardly more reassuring, for slavery is “simply a fact of life in the Quran” and perhaps even “part of the DNA of Islam.” “Every area of Islamic law is permeated by slavery,” something that “sharia, without exception until the 20th-century, validated.” Muslim scholars have even speculated about a “time when the laws of slavery will actually be needed again,” such as in a post-apocalyptic Mad Max-like world, he has noted.
In this regard, Brown has unsettlingly reprised his 2017 comments on sex slavery. Thus any norm that sex be consensual “is fairly unusual in world history.” This corresponds to Islamic doctrine’s proprietary understanding of female sexuality, which, he has noted, denies any recognition of rape in marriage.
Slavery in Islam is faith-based, Brown has explained. Under sharia the “only way that someone can lose their freedom is if they are a non-Muslim who lives outside the Muslim state and is then captured by Muslims.” Slavery therefore “is a reduction in legal status that is caused by unbelief,” whose “vestigial effect” can remain even for an enslaved convert to Islam or a child born into slavery.
Yet Brown has argued that Islam is “obsessed with emancipation.” Islamic doctrine’s numerous biases towards freeing slaves, such as a means to expiate sin, means that Islam “does not have an equal in any religious or philosophical tradition” from the premodern world. “The Quran and Sunna are unprecedently adamant about emancipation.”
However this emancipation should not help a slave return to unbelief in Islam. “Freedom is not the most important thing in Islamic law,” Brown has noted, although Muslim scholars have historically argued that “slavery is intrinsically harmful.” Rather, true freedom comes from submission to Islam, an “emancipatory force.” Seventh-century Arab Muslim conquerors, for example, before subjugating the Persians, announced that they would be free only as “slaves of God alone.”
Correspondingly, Brown has described Islamic civilization as a “vacuum cleaner, just sucking in people.” Muslim scholars have historically advocated enslavement of non-Muslims as a means of introducing them to Islam. Then “Muslims are always manumitting slaves, which means they need new slaves,” in an “emancipation turbine.”
Brown has correctly described how Christians led the revolutionary movement against a once universal acceptance of slavery to create the “abolitionist consensus that is held worldwide today.” “Muslims talking about the issue of slavery and abolition of slavery doesn’t happen until they encounter essentially Western abolitionism,” a development true of the Westerners themselves. In his assessment, Christians had in the process to “desacralize scripture” in the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament with its numerous references to forms of servitude.
Jewish rabbis and scholars would beg to differ with Brown, for as McGill University Professor David Aberbach has written, “Judaism is intrinsically an abolitionist religion.” “In Jewish belief, every human life matters.” Contrary to superficial readings, Rabbi Dov Linzer has noted, the “Torah only accepts slavery as a deeply entrenched societal institution.”
The late Jewish sage Rabbi Jonathan Sacks delved into this deeper understanding of the Torah’s position of slavery. God’s intends “slavery is to be abolished, but it is a fundamental principle of God’s relationship with us that he does not force us to change faster than we are able to do so of our own free will.” Nonetheless, in the “Torah’s value system the exercise of power by one person over another, without their consent, is a fundamental assault against human dignity.”
This analysis requires that non-Jews such as Brown properly understand Jewish scripture. “Jews have always read the Torah through a rabbinic interpretive lens and not simply on the plain meaning of its words,” the website My Jewish Learning has observed. Thus Jews cannot “read every mitzvah as an ideal” that allows for no further development, Linzer has cautioned.
Accordingly, in various stipulations the “Torah indeed sees slavery as a problematic phenomenon,” Shmuel Rabinowitz, rabbi of Jerusalem’s Western Wall and holy sites has noted. “Although it sanctions the institution of slavery, biblical law begins the process toward abolition,” University of Waterloo Professor James A. Diamond has observed. “Rules limiting slavery challenged the way society was built and prompted Jews to question an institution perhaps so natural it was invisible,” Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner has confirmed.
The Torah’s restrictive regulation of slavery indeed manifested a Jewish “light to the Gentiles” in the ancient slave-holding world. As the Chabad-Lubavitch organization has noted:
At a time when Romans had literally thousands of slaves per citizen, even the wealthiest Jews held very modest numbers of servants. And those servants, the Talmud tells us, were treated better by their masters than foreign kings would treat their own subjects.
Particularly the Bible’s Exodus narrative of Jews escaping bondage in Egypt imprints upon Jewish consciousness emancipation’s value. Diamond has noted that the Passover “commemorates the exodus, anchoring the relationship between God and Israel as Liberator and slave.” As Sacks commented, “Jews were the people commanded never to forget the bitter taste of slavery so that they would never take freedom for granted.”
Tellingly, Brown has noted that Islamic tradition rejects the Torah’s narrative of a gracious God emancipating Jews in ancient Egypt and equates them with Muhammad’s early Muslim followers in pagan Mecca. “The Muslims in Mecca are like the Jews in Egypt, but they are not slaves, they are oppressed.” Thus the Israelite exodus “is not a story of emancipation, it’s a story of victory over oppression,” symbolizing Islam’s triumph.
The contrast between beliefs held by Muslims such as Brown and the Judeo-Christian tradition clearly indicates why Muslims have struggled to reject slavery. Confronted with this moral evil, Muslim reformers have argued that slavery is an artifact of jihadist doctrines inapplicable in modernity, or that rulers have discretionary power to prohibit human bondage. Nonetheless, Brown has recalled that jihadists going to Muslims’ defense during Bosnia’s 1990s sectarian carnage had asked Saudi clerics about taking slaves, only to hear warnings that this would create bad publicity.
These Islamic realities reflect Brown’s moral relativism. Although the Ottoman Empire’s slave trade “was undeniably brutal,” he has argued that slavery and other often onerous labor relations such as indentured servitude have widely varied across human history. Following therefore his dubious claim that slavery is not really objectively definable, any slavery-induced “disgust is a cultural construct” and “just custom; it’s just urf.” By analogy, he has noted that China’s brutal dog meat trade horrifies many non-Chinese, although increasing domestic opposition to dog meat consumption undermines his cultural relativism arguments.
Despite grappling with slavery’s moral problems for Islam’s legitimacy, Brown has failed to find a solution. In recent years Islamic State jihadists in their mercifully brief caliphate have “really caused a crisis for young Muslims” by piously invoking Islamic canons to justify the enslavement of Mesopotamia’s non-Muslims. But as the foregoing analysis has proven, he is wrong to claim in Islam’s tu quoque defense that slavery’s abolition “is not indigenous to any religion or any philosophy.”
Christianity’s commitment to freedom was so pronounced that Frederick Douglass, who decried the hypocrisy of slave-holding religion vividly, did not convert to Islam and become “Frederick X,” but professed, “I love the religion of our blessed Savior.”
While Brown’s exculpation for slavery in Islamic doctrine is unconvincing, he has nonetheless provided valuable insight into this previously “taboo subject.” As Azumah has written, a “critical approach is reserved for the Christian past but forbidden for the Muslim past.” However inadvertently and awkwardly, Brown has helped uncover Islam’s dark slavery legacy.