There are so many ridiculous things being taught in American colleges and universities these days that a professor who defends the Taliban may seem staid and conservative compared to some of his colleagues, but that’s just a sign of how far American academia has fallen. Christopher Cook, a professor in the Department of International Politics at Pennsylvania State University – World Campus, is teaching a class called “Politics of Terrorism,” in which he has given the students an essay assignment: “Explain why the Taliban are not terrorists.” Imagine a professor in 1944 making his students write about how the Nazis really aren’t so bad, and you’ll understand how ridiculous and outrageous Cook’s assignment really is.
Cook’s assignment was not an example of the common pedagogical exercise in which students adopt a point of view that is not their own in order to sharpen their ability to understand and present arguments. He explained his assignment in this way: “In one page* explain why the Taliban is have [sic] not and are still not a terrorist organization. You are not allowed to answer this question in any other way. Any attempt to avoid this prompt as written; or trying to argue otherwise will result in a failing grade. If you have any questions on the pedagogy behind this assignment– please contact me.”
The warnings that students could not argue the opposite view, or avoid the question altogether made clear where Cook was coming from, and he made it even clear in several tweets (after his class assignment became widely known, he deleted his Twitter account). Cook wrote: “Do you think any of my students will see this before Sunday’s deadline? The one where I ask them to tell me why the Taliban are *not* terrorists.” And: “I am going to guess there is a Venn Diagram between the people who struggled understanding why the Taliban were not terrorists for the lat [sic] 20 years and those who think there can be justified violence against the American government.” Does Cook support Antifa? It would be surprising if he didn’t.
Penn State student Kylie Stone told “Fox & Friends”: “I was completely shocked. I had made it through my first four years of college without having anything this insane and, of course, my last semester my teacher basically says ‘you have to agree with me or I’m going to fail you.’ So it was very surprising to me….I have had assignments where they asked me to argue both sides. I love doing that kind of stuff. I think it’s so beneficial to every student to be doing that but that’s not what this assignment was.” That’s obvious. Cook, like the overwhelming majority of professors all over the country today, doesn’t want to teach his students critical thinking skills; he wants to indoctrinate them into Leftist attitudes and dogmas.
One of the foremost of those dogmas is that the conflicts between the United States and entities such as the Taliban are entirely the fault of the United States. If the U.S. ended its “racist, colonialist, imperialist” policies, a new era of peace would dawn around the world. Yet as the Taliban moved into Kabul in August 2021, Taliban commander Muhammed Arif Mustafa told CNN: “It’s our belief that one day, mujahedin will have victory, and Islamic law will come not to just Afghanistan, but all over the world. We are not in a hurry. We believe it will come one day. Jihad will not end until the last day.” That jihad does not depend on what the United States does or does not do. It is based on the Qur’anic imperative to “fight” unbelievers “until persecution is no more and religion is all for Allah” (8:39).
In service of that goal, the Taliban have just threatened to put 2,000 jihad suicide bombers in the Afghan embassy in Washington, D.C. Jihad suicide bombers remain a key part of their strategic force inside Afghanistan. Several weeks ago, Taliban jihadis shot a couple dead for “moral corruption” in the Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif. The group has forbidden women to travel unless they’re accompanied by a male guardian. It has a kill list of gays in Afghanistan. It murdered three people at a wedding where music was being played because celebratory music is forbidden in Islam. It beheaded a junior volleyball player who was part of the Afghan women’s national team.
If this is not a terrorist group, what is? But for America-hating ideologues such as Christopher Cook, any enemy of the United States, no matter how venal and bloodthirsty, has the moral high ground. And he, along with so many others who are exactly like him, is teaching America’s children.