It was the first week in October in Newton, an upscale suburb of Boston, and Tony Pagliuso’s daughter, a sophomore at Newton South High School, was visibly disturbed. When Tony asked her the problem, she showed him a passage from the chapter she was assigned in her World History Class. It was a chapter called “Women, an Essay,” from a supplemental text called The Arab World Notebook. In a paragraph devoted to women “in the struggle for independence from colonial powers,” we find:
Over the past four decades, women have been active in the Palestinian resistance movement. Several hundred have been imprisoned, tortured, and killed by Israeli occupation forces since the latest uprising, “intifada,” in the Israeli occupied territories.
Pagliuso assured his daughter that this was “total propaganda,” and took the matter up with the young teacher, a Miss Jessica Engel, who couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. The material had been “vetted” and was deemed “appropriate,” she said, “and would stay in the curriculum. After all, she continued, the head of the history department had gotten this material at an outreach workshop of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard!
Thence to the principal, Joel Stembridge, who glared at Pagliuso and asked, “How do you pronounce ‘Pagliuso’?” and dismissing him brusquely with a refusal to apologize, added: “If you’re unhappy with this, you should know that next year we’re planning to teach material that will be even more inflammatory to your sensibilities.” (Where is Ferris Bueller when you need him?) Since Miss Jessica Engel had devoted one day each to Judaism and Christianity while spending 2 ½ weeks on Islam, Tony wasn’t sure how much more inflammatory things could get.
A couple of weeks later, nine stalwart Newton citizens presented themselves at the Newton School Committee meeting, where superintendent David Fleischman, and even the mayor, Setti Warren, were present. The citizens were courteously received, and as it happens Fleishman announced shortly thereafter that indeed the chapter “didn’t meet the learning goals of the class” and had been removed from the curriculum.
“Didn’t meet the learning goals” is Eduspeak for “What the hell is this and how the hell did it get in?” The answer to the latter is, as noted, Harvard, which, as it happens, held a seminar on Israel and Palestine at Newton South in April 2011. And Newton is far from the only community to take its lead on matters Islamic from Harvard. Public and private schools all over Massachusetts send teachers to the Outreach Center at Harvard for guidance and (free) materials. The program, like the Center for Middle Eastern Studies itself, is heavily Saudi-funded.
The answer to what it is can be found in a number of places. In 2005, responding to a complaint from a teacher in Anchorage, Alaska, the American Jewish Committee published a thorough critique of the Notebook (the full report Propaganda, Proselytizing, and Public Education, is available at the AJC website), thanks to which Anchorage stopped using the book. As background, the AJC report explains:
The Arab World Studies Notebook was first published in 1990 under the title Arab World Notebook [apparently Newton was using this edition], but was updated and republished in 1998 with its current title. The funding for the publication was provided by the Middle East Policy Council, formerly the Arab American Affairs Council….The Notebook was published in conjunction with Arab World and Islamic Resources (AWAIR), founded by Audrey Shabbas, who penned many of the articles…as well as the editorial commentary throughout.
Who is this Audrey Shabbas? The moving spirit behind AWAIR, she says all she wants from teachers is to “let you step with me to the inside, to see what a Muslim worldview looks like and feels like, so you can bring it back to your students.” This from an adoring 2002 interview posted, fittingly, at Saudi Aramco World.
A little earlier than the AJC’s report, in 2003, William J. Bennetta, president of The Textbook League, produced a preliminary assessment of the Notebook. He gives a little background:
The Middle East Policy Council, a pressure group based in Washington. D.C…adopted its present name in 1991. The MEPC’s activities include the sponsoring of “teacher workshops” that allegedly equip educators to teach about “the Arab World and Islam. AWAIR, which operates from Abiquiu, New Mexico, distributes printed items and videos for “ALL LEVELS-Elementary to College” and runs the “teacher workshops” sponsored by the MEPC.”
But on to the meat in Mr Bennetta’s scathing report:
The promotion of Islam in the Notebook is unrestrained, and the religious-indoctrination material that the Notebook dispenses is virulent. Muslim myths, including myths about how Islam and the Koran originated, are retailed as matters of fact, while legitimate historical appraisals of the origins of Islam and the Koran are excluded. [Audrey] Shabbas wants to turn teachers into agents who, in their classrooms, will present Muslim myths as “history,” will endorse Muslim religious claims, and will propagate Islamic fundamentalism. In a public-school setting, the religious-indoctrination work which Shabbas wants teachers to perform would clearly be illegal.
Or, in the words of Tony Pagliuso, “total propaganda.” What is striking, though, is how amateurish the chapter on women is. Taqiyya — telling falsehoods for Islam — is a well-known tool of Islamic propagandists, but this shoddy merchandise is so riddled with lies and half-truths that no respectable Arab merchant in the shuk would hang it in his market. Just a sample:
Women’s Rights in Islam. There is no basis in Islam for the subjugation of women or their relegation to a secondary role. Far in advance of women’s emancipation in Europe, Islam made revolutionary changes in the lives of women in 6th-century Arabia.
The alert reader will observe that there was no Islam yet in 6th-century Arabia, Muhammad himself having been born in about 570, and having been tapped by the angel Gabriel no earlier then about 609. Then too we think of the unpleasantries swept under the Oriental carpet — such as permissible rape, clitorectomies, honor killings, child marriage, indeed the whole sorry gamut of women’s trials under Islam, including those specifically decreed by the Koran.
Sandra Stotsky, a professor at the University of Arkansas, deals with these gems and others in her 2004 report for the Fordham Foundation, The Stealth Curriculum, which has now been updated for a new book published by Palgrave MacMillan. She points to one article, ascribed to Audrey Shabbas and Abdallah Hakim Quick, titled “Early Muslim Exploration Worldwide: Evidence of Muslims in the New World Before Columbus.” The article claims that
Muslims from Europe were the first to sail across the Atlantic and land in the New World, starting in 889… [and that]West African Muslims had not only spread throughout South and Central America, but had also reached Canada, intermarrying with the Iroquois and Algonquin nations so that, much later, early English explorers were to meet Iroquois and Algonquin chiefs with names like Abdul-Rahim and Abdallah Ibn Malik.
Stotsky interjects, “The idea that English explorers met native Indian chiefs with Muslim names in the middle of the Northeast woodlands sounds almost like something a Hollywood film writer dreamed up for a spoof.” (Mel Brooks, of course.) Interestingly enough, the Algonquin Nation itself demanded a retraction of this “indefensible” farce. But seriously, as Stotsky continues, “What is most astonishing about this ‘historical information’ is that it seems not to have been recognized as fake history by all the satisfied teachers that MEPC claims have participated in its workshops over the years.”
Ay, there’s the rub. Thanks to the Tony Pagliusos of this world, perhaps more parents will rear up on their hind legs and shout, “Who’s teaching my kids? And what in God’s name are they teaching?”
Read it all, and know what your kids and grandkids and nieces and nephews are being taught at school.
We just posted this, Adopting Pro-Sharia Textbooks in U.S. Schools, two days ago, and there are many more posts like it in our archives.
Start with these two posts with links to hours if not days worth of research and videos:
- Congressman Calls For Purging Military Of Muslims: Taqiyya Part Of Islam’s Doctrine. (politicalvelcraft.org)
- My name is @BoschFawstin and I’m a recovering Muslim (lettingfreedomring.com)
- Muslims Use “Taqiyya” to Deceive Non-Muslims About Islam (counterjihadreport.com)
- Adopting Pro-Sharia Textbooks in U.S. Schools (creepingsharia.wordpress.com)
- Islam’s doctrines of deception (paulmarcelrene.wordpress.com)
- Taqiyya in the Classroom (sfcmac.wordpress.com)