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Trump Administration Calls Out Bias in Middle East Studies Programs, by Raymond Ibrahim (Gatestone Inst.)

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Oct. 21, 2019

  • “[T]here is a considerable emphasis placed on understanding the positive aspects of Islam, while there is an absolute absence of any similar focus on the positive aspects of Christianity, Judaism, or any other religion or belief system in the Middle East.” — US Department of Education, Notice of a Letter Regarding the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies, September 17, 2019.

  • Virtually all Middle East Studies departments on campuses everywhere can, to varying degrees, be accused of focusing on irrelevant and superficial topics, sidelining language skills, whitewashing Islam — in short, indoctrinating students in highly distorted views.

  • The letter also raises questions concerning… foreign funding. A 2018 report , for instance, found that “elite U.S. universities took more than half a billion dollars” from Saudi Arabia in gifts and donations “between 2011 and 2017.” Why would a nation that treats women like chattel, teaches Muslims to hate all non-Muslims… that has elite units dedicated to apprehending witches and warlocks — become a leading financial supporter of America’s liberal arts? The answer is regularly on display: so that recipients can show their gratitude by indoctrinating students in a fictitious Middle East and Islam—both of which are supposed victims of America.

  • The reason U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East has tended towards disaster is arguably because policymakers depend on advisors and analysts who are products of such Middle East studies departments — as are the many scholars and “experts” who insist that Islam is a “religion of peace.” Until such time as Middle East Studies teach their topics with objectivity, balance, and above all, honesty, failure is likely to continue dominating America’s response.

The Trump administration recently called out and threatened to cut federal funding for the Consortium for Middle East Studies (CMES), a program run by Duke University and the University of North Carolina. CMES was accused by the U.S. Department of Education of misusing a federal grant to advance “ideological priorities” and unfairly promote “the positive aspects of Islam,” particularly in comparison to Judaism and Christianity.

The Department of Education summarized its position in an August 29 letter that opens with a reminder that institutions of higher education may receive federal funding via Title VI of the Higher Education Act of 1965:

The Secretary is authorized–

(i) to make grants to institutions of higher education, or combinations thereof, for the purpose of establishing, strengthening, and operating comprehensive foreign language and area or international studies centers and programs; and

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