Hucksterism is alive and well and residing at Divinity Schools in universities across the country. In fact, these institutions designed to provide instruction on religious practice have become centers for the promotion of leftist ideology and now Islamism.
On March 23 Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, founder and chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, what some have called the mosque at the World Trade Center site, spoke at Yale on “religious tolerance and interfaith cooperation.” The discussion, organized by Jews and Muslims at Yale, was moderated by Rabbi James Ponet, head of the Slifka Center for Jewish Life.
Imam Rauf has received international attention for the Cordoba Initiative with adherents and opponents aroused by the controversy. Rauf claims to foster strong ties and friendship among different religious faiths, but in all instances the understanding is a one-way street with Jews presumably coming to appreciate the unique contributions of Islam.
Having heard Imam Rauf speak, his soft and mellifluous tone conceals positions consistent with radical Islam. For example, during deliberations about the mosque near the World Trade Center site, Rauf refused to criticize Hamas as a terrorist organization, even though it is listed as a terrorist group by our State Department.
He refuses as well to recognize the incompatibility between Shariah — which he espouses — and constitutional precedents in the United States.
Rauf attempts to convince his audience of his ironic intentions with reference to his enthusiasm for the New York Giants football team, his having grown up in New Jersey and his love of the United States. But what remains unclear, in fact what is intentionally enigmatic, is whether this love of America trumps his love for Islam and the totalistic demands of the religion.
Moreover, there is an inherent hypocrisy in his approach that the left wing Divinity School embraces as well. While there is much said about understanding and cooperation, the onus is put on Jewish students to appreciate Islam, but there isn’t any expectation that Muslims should learn to appreciate the Judeo-Christian tradition of the West.
Islam relies on the constitutional guarantee of the First Amendment to challenge the most basic and fundamental precepts of constitutionalism.
Islam does not recognize the separation of church and state. Islam doesn’t have any provision for the protection of individual rights. Islam systematically subjugates women and refuses to offer them the full protection of the law.
Are these conditions which should be embraced by the Jews at Yale’s Divinity School?
Admittedly there are portions of the Koran which display a desire for cooperation in what is sometimes described as the Mecca period. However, Islam also applies the law of abrogation suggesting that what came later (even though the Koran is not written chronologically) is be superordinated over what came earlier. As a consequence, the Medina period in which violence is advocated and Verses of the Sword are regarded as more significant than the earlier peaceful episode in Islam’s evolution.
But did Imam Rauf mention this matter in his peroration? Of course not. Will Yale students challenge him on this matter? Of course not. Will this event be heralded as a peaceful exchange designed to promote understanding? Of that I haven’t the slightest doubt.
In fact, this should be described as Rauf’s grand Shariah tour across America. It is a mission aimed at the useful dupes in the academy who will accept his pronouncements. As I see it, the secret that won’t be revealed and is “a third rail” in discussion is that the American left and Islam have very little in common ideologically, except for one matter: hatred of the American system and our way of life.
Herbert London is president of the Hudson Institute and author of the book "Decline and Revival in Higher Education" (Transaction Publishers).
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