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Wisconsin Student Outraged Because Terrorism Course Discusses Jihad

How divorced from reality are our nation’s college and university campuses today? This divorced from reality: a terrorism class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has become the focus of controversy for daring to discuss Islamic jihad in connection with terrorism. The connection between Islamic jihad and terrorism is as obvious as the fact that water is wet, but not on campus today.

“Lectures slated for October,” the College Fix reported Wednesday, “include topics such as ‘Islam and the West,’ ‘The origins of Jihad,’ ‘Al Qaida,’ ‘9/11,’ ‘The Islamic State’ and ‘Jihad in Africa,’ according to a syllabus screenshot.”

That all seems fairly straightforward -- but only in the real world, not at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State do exist, 9/11 did happen, and there is jihad activity against the West and in Africa. However, Muslim student Ali Khan “took to social media to express outrage over the content of ‘Political Science 347: Terrorism’ and the way the professor approached the subject.”

Khan fumed that the class represented “an American exceptionalism perspective to advance a zionist, orientalist, and/or neocolonialist agenda.” He added: “You cannot define terrorism singularly by the actions of terrorist groups or non-state actors without including state-sponsored terrorism,” a clear indication that he wanted the class to discuss supposed Israeli terrorism.

Khan had more complaints: “There’s a whole module titled ‘Jihad.’ This legitimizes a perception that the concept of Jihad is one-dimensional, single-faceted, and inherently violent and connected to terrorism.” No, it doesn’t, although his complaint is a commonly repeated one. To study jihad in this context is simply to recognize that jihad is what jihad terrorists say they’re doing. To refuse to acknowledge that or to study it because of some a priori view that Islam is a religion of peace and jihad means taking the kids to school or blowing milk bubbles through a straw is to cut oneself off from understanding the motivating ideology of jihad terrorists as they state it. Why should the study of their self-perception be off-limits?

Still livid, Khan fulminated: “Will we be discussing the different types of jihad (by the heart, tongue, and hand)? Is the professor an Islamic scholar who can accurately speak about jihad?” Why should those be discussed, except insofar as they are relevant to the discussion of jihad terrorism? Does a discussion of the Mafia’s self-professed Catholic identity have to include material about Catholic charitable activities?

Khan’s underlying assumption is that the university is obligated to portray Islam in a favorable light, and if any negative information is presented, then it has to be balanced with positive material. This assumption seems to be shared also among the establishment media. But why must this be so? Why can’t there be a study of jihad terrorism in a dispassionate, accurate manner, without further considerations of how people are going to think about Islam one way or the other?