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.

Friday, June 13, 2008

KNEW's Armstrong & Getty Discuss My "Islam in America's Public Schools" Column

A friend alerted me to the fact that KNEW's Armstrong and Getty discussed my column, "Islam in America's Public Schools: Education or Indoctrination?," in the first hour of this morning's (6/13) show. And they also dicussed the recent news on the Islamic Saudi Academy.

The show is listed in the podcast page (second one down) and the mp3 of that particular hour is available here. I'm not sure how long it will stay up, so catch it soon!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Panel Findings: Islamic Saudi Academy Textbooks Promote Hatred, Intolerance, and Violence

Hot on the heels of my column yesterday, "Islam in America's Public Schools: Education or Indoctrination?," which included mention of the Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA) in Fairfax, Virginia, comes news that the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has released its findings from a review of the school's textbooks and found that they promote hatred, intolerance, and violence. As reported by the Associated Press:
-The authors of a 12th-grade text on Koranic interpretation state that apostates (those who convert from Islam), adulterers and people who murder Muslims can be permissibly killed.

-The authors of a 12th-grade text on monotheism write that "(m)ajor polytheism makes blood and wealth permissible," meaning that a Muslim can take with impunity the life and property of someone believed guilty of polytheism. According to the panel, the strict Saudi interpretation of polytheism includes Shiite and Sufi Muslims as well as Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists.

-A social studies text offers the view that Jews were responsible for the split between Sunni and Shiite Muslims: "The cause of the discord: The Jews conspired against Islam and its people. A sly, wicked person who sinfully and deceitfully professed Islam infiltrated (the Muslims)."

More generally, the panel found that the academy textbooks hold the view that the Muslim world was strong when united under a single caliph, the Arabic language and the Sunni creed, and that Muslims have grown weak because of foreign influence and internal divisions.
Lovely stuff, but par for the course for the Saudi government-run school, which has been operating as a base for radical indoctrination and Wahhabi influence within the United States for years - and all under the seeming protection of the State Department.

Meanwhile, ISA has turned out star students such as 1999 valedictorian, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, who was convicted for a terrorist plot to assassinate President Bush in 2005.

More recently, ISA was the location for an Arabic as a Second Language program, including lessons on "Middle Eastern culture and traditions," with the pupils being none other than U.S. soldiers from nearby Fort Belvoir. Incredibly, Fort Belvoir has a partnership with ISA and the school's Arabic language program has received a commendation from the U.S. military. Last month's blog post on that story, as well as ISA's troubled history, can be read here.

Getting back to the issue of textbooks, the reason I included ISA in my column on the problematic aspects of teaching Islam and Islamic history in America's public schools, is the involvement of former ISA social studies teacher (her husband still teaches there), Susan Douglass, in approving such texts via the ideologically suspect Council on Islamic Education. In addition, as an "education consultant" for the Saudi-funded Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, Douglass is in charge of the center's "professional development workshops" for training K-12 teachers. Neither inspires confidence in our educational system.

As this "six degrees of separation" scenario makes clear, ISA is just one arm of a many-tentacled, pernicious Saudi presence in the United States whose casualties, if we're not careful, will include future generations.

That's why the recent findings of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom are so important. But it's now up to our federal government to do something about it. As the New York Sun puts it:

For the Saudi government to burden its own youth with this sort of poisonous nonsense is deplorable. For them to do it inside America is even worse. The Commission has performed a service by calling the matter to public attention. The next step is for the Bush administration to make it a priority in our diplomatic dialogue with the Saudis.

Update: A condensed version of this item has been cross-posted at the Campus Watch blog.

Update (6/13): The Washington Times reports that (surprise, surprise) the State Department has no intention of closing ISA down. Instead, they're giving school officials until the start of the 2008 school year to revise the abhorrent textbooks. Here's State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos:
"For several years we've engaged the Saudi government on the need to eliminate intolerant references toward other religious groups in textbooks and other educational materials used in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere....And we'll continue to work with the Saudi government in efforts to revise the textbooks."
In other words, don't hold your breath....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Islam in America's Public Schools: Education or Indoctrination?

My latest SFGate column examines the teaching of Islam and Islamic history in America's public schools and finds ample cause for concern. It begins like so:
With fatal terrorist attacks on the decline worldwide and al Qaeda apparently in disarray, it would seem a time for optimism in the global war on terrorism. But the war has simply shifted to a different arena. Islamists, or those who believe that Islam is a political and religious system that must dominate all others, are focusing less on the military and more on the ideological. It turns out that Western liberal democracies can be subverted without firing a shot.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the educational realm. Islamists have taken what's come to be known as the "soft jihad" into America's classrooms and children in K-12 are the first casualties. Whether it is textbooks, curriculum, classroom exercises, film screenings, speakers or teacher training, public education in America is under assault.
Continue reading "Islam in America's Public Schools: Education or Indoctrination?"