Cinnamon Stillwell

I’m the West Coast Representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum that focuses on Middle East studies. I was a political columnist for SFGate.com (San Francisco Chronicle online) from 2004-2008. I've written for the American Thinker, Frontpage Magazine, Family Security Matters, Accuracy In Media, Newsbusters, Israel National News, The Jewish Policy Center, J-The Jewish News Weekly of N. CA, Intellectual Conservative and many others. More info at CinnamonStillwell.com.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Acceptable Bigotry in the Ivory Tower? Prof. Muqtedar Khan Refuses to Share Panel with IDF Veteran

In the growing list of acceptable bigotries proliferating among those who inhabit the ever-so-progressive Ivory Tower, it seems that Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) veterans are fair game. Just ask University of Delaware political science and international relations professor Muqtedar Khan (also a Pentagon consultant and Brookings Institute Fellow), who refused to share an academic panel yesterday at the University of Delaware with Campus Watch Associate Fellow Asaf Romirowsky.

My Campus Watch colleague, Director Winfield Myers, references the story at the Campus Watch blog and Michael Rubin has all the details at NRO's The Corner. I've been given permission to post the information here as well:
Academic Freedom? [Michael Rubin]

Yesterday, the University of Delaware asked Asaf Romirowsky to step down from an academic panel at the University of Delaware because another panelist, University of Delaware political scientist Muqtedar Khan, didn't want to share the podium with anyone who served in the Israeli Defense Forces. Romirowsky, who holds joint American/Israeli citizenship and lives in Philadelphia, had been invited to join Khan, his colleague in political science, Stuart Kaufman, a staff member of the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, and a graduate student to discuss anti-Americanism in the Middle East. The program was organized by the College Republicans, the College Democrats, and the Students of Western Civilization Club. The Leadership Institute provided the funds for the panel, which met on the University of Delaware campus on Wednesday evening. The students offered Romirowsky the opportunity to come to campus next week and speak alone, with no other panel members who might object to his presence.

If Khan was just an academic, that would be one thing. But he also straddles the policy world: Khan is a a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a Pentagon consultant. According to an e-mail he sent to the University, he gave a workshop at the Pentagon yesterday afternoon.

Academics should embrace intellectual challenge; not flee from it.

Here's the e-mail from Khan stating his objections to appearing with Romirowsky:

—— Original message ——
Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2007 20:02:29 -0400
From: "Muqtedar Khan"
Subject: Re: Understanding Anti-Americanism Panel
To: [Names redacted]

Laura, I have to speak at the Pentagon tomorrow. My workshop is from 12-4. I hope to catch the 5 pm Acela from DC and will be back in town by 7 pm. I will come directly, but may be late. I am also not sure how I feel about being on the same panel with an Israeli soldier who was stationed in West Bank. Some people see IDF as an occupying force in the West Bank. I am not sure that I will be comfortable occupying the same space with him. It is not fair to spring this surprise on me at the last moment.

10/25 09:54 AM
I wonder what the reaction would have been had another panelist expressed discomfort "occupying the same space" with, let's say, a professor who, while producing many articles and blog posts of a reasonable bent, has also described Israel as having "raped Lebanon," referred to the mythical "Quran desecration" at Gitmo on more than one occasion, played up the victim card known as "Islamophobia," and contributed to such less than objective publications as Aljazeera.com and the American Muslim Perspective (the latter of which has a webpage on the "offending Danish cartoons")?

The silence is deafening.

Update: Daniel Pipes debated Khan on the PBS show "Wide Angle" in 2003, as well as noting Khan's involvement with CAIR towards the end of this blog post. Further posts on Khan are listed here.

Update II: Jonathan Schanzer blogs about the matter at The Jewish Policy Center. As does Solomonia.

Update (10/26): Further posts on the matter at Democracy Project, Seraphic Secret, Frontpage Magazine, and JewishInfoNews.

Update (10/27): Even more blog posts at Little Green Footballs, Jewlicious (on "IDF-phobia"), Israel Matzav, Academics, Rhymes With Right, First Friday Collective (colorful language alert), CDR Salamander, The Virginian, Free Republic, and Photon Courier

Update (10/30): The Evening Bulletin has covered the story, as has Candace de Russy at NRO's Phi Beta Cons.

Update (10/31): JTA, Insider Higher Education, and The Volokh Conspiracy chime in.

Update (11/1): The Jewish Exponent covers the case here and here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence: Perpetually Juvenile

My latest SFGate column looks at San Francisco's Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, whose fixation on the Catholic church misses the mark in terms of the religion that constitutes a true threat to gay rights:
While the famously liberal city of San Francisco is known for its anti-military shenanigans, it's the anti-Christian and, in particular, anti-Catholic sentiment emanating from activist elements of the city's gay population that's been getting all the attention as of late. Most notably, it's been coming from the Fox News Channel, where "The O'Reilly Factor" host Bill O'Reilly, a practicing Catholic, is sick and tired of those who target his religion not only for ridicule, but outright hostility.

The latest instance of such sentiment originated with an all too familiar source: San Francisco's notorious Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The "sisters" are a group of gay men who dress up as nuns — of the drag-queen variety — in an attempt to parody Catholicism and, in a larger sense, Christianity, for what they perceive as its intolerance towards homosexuality. Their motto is "go forth and sin some more" and members have adopted satirical names such as "Sister Chastity Boner" and "Sister Constance Craving of the Holey Desire."

The sisters can be seen every year at the Gay Pride Parade, strutting their stuff and giving the press a taste of San Francisco outrageousness at its finest. And it's not unusual to see them out and about on any given afternoon in full regalia, never subtle about the object of their scorn. Indeed, I walked past one of the sisters standing outside a bar on Polk Street last weekend, joking loudly, with beer in hand, about going to "receive communion" later that day.

Receiving Holy Communion is exactly what two members of the group set out to achieve earlier this month. The sisters attended Mass at San Francisco's Most Holy Redeemer Parish on Oct. 7 and, in effect, forced Archbishop George H. Niederauer to deliver the Eucharist to them as his rather stunned congregation looked on.
Continue reading "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence: Perpetually Juvenile"

Monday, October 22, 2007

DePaul Prof. Aminah Beverly McCloud: Pushing "Islamophobia," Obscuring Islamism

I have a new post at the Campus Watch blog on Aminah Beverly McCloud, the DePaul professor who gained notoriety earlier this year over her role in helping to sabotage the intended-for-PBS documentary, Islam vs. Islamists. Read on:

As part of the "Islam Awareness Week" currently taking place at the University of Pennsylvania, a discussion titled, "Don't Believe the Hype: How the Media and Hollywood Portray Muslims and their Faith" will take place on October 24. Looking at the description of the event, it's clear that the usual platitudes about "Islamophobia," "racism," and "misconceptions" will be employed to mask the need for honest examination and, ultimately, reform in combating Islamism:
This event will seek to address the way Western media has created an unwarranted sense of fear towards Muslims. This speaker panel will address the heavy-hitting issue of Islamophobia as a form of racism towards Muslims. What is it, how is it formed, and how does it influence Western thought? Dr. Aminah McCloud and Azhar Usman will reflect upon the many negative images painted about Islam in today's media and attempt to reconcile the problems.

The goal of this panel is to reach a stronger understanding of Islamophobia and how Americans can respond to counteract this negative force. By better understanding Islam a victim of mass media, we can uncover the truth behind the misconceptions people have about the religion itself.
The involvement of Aminah Beverly McCloud, director of the Islamic World Studies program at DePaul University, speaks volumes about the disingenuous "Islam [as] a victim of mass media" trope being pushed by the speaker panel. McCloud has a history of not only aligning herself with reactionary and radical elements within the American Muslim community, but in actively working to obscure the true nature of Islamism in this country.

Continue reading "DePaul Prof. Aminah Beverly McCloud: Pushing 'Islamophobia,' Obscuring Islamism"

Jack Engelhard's "The Bathsheba Deadline" with a Foreword By Yours Truly

Author and columnist Jack Engelhard has been both a colleague and a longtime supporter of my work. In fact, when his latest novel, The Bathsheba Deadline, began coming out in installments via Amazon Shorts (a modern version of a literary form that goes back to the nineteenth century--the serial novel), I found myself appearing as a character of sorts in its pages.

Engelhard's novel, a love triangle of, literally, biblical proportions set against the backdrop of the war on terrorism and modern day journalism, includes references to both current events and current players in the world of new media. So it was that my name came up on more than one occasion, all of which were, of course, quoted on the homepage of my website in the "What People Are Saying" section. I also blogged about the book, describing it as "fiction straight out of the headlines." For I read each installment as it came out and found myself eagerly anticipating the next.

Happily, The Bathsheba Deadline is now out in book form and my earlier blog post, with a few adjustments and additions, appears as the foreword. This was my first foray into such literary territory and it's written more in the style of the new media than that of a typical book foreword. But, considering Englehard's tribute to what he calls in the book "Bypass Journalism" (as in bypassing the mainstream media, which, all too often, is willfully out to lunch on the major stories of our day), this seemed fitting.

The foreword can be read at the website of the publisher, iUniverse.com, and by clicking here and here. And I recommend all those in the market for a novel that reflects both the world we live in and the ancient underpinnings with which we continue to grapple to give The Bathsheba Deadline a read. If so, I'll see you in print...