Harvard and Jihad

Culture Watch

Mr. Pipes is the director of the Middle East Forum. His website address is http://www.danielpipes.org.

Imagine it's June 1942 - just a few months after Adolf Hitler declared war on the United States. At Harvard University, a faculty committee has chosen a German-American to give one of three student orations at the festive commencement ceremony. He titles it"American Kampf," purposefully echoing the title of Hitler's book,"Mein Kampf" ("My Struggle") in order to show the positive side of"Kampf."

When this prompts protests, a Harvard dean defends it as a"thoughtful oration" that defines the concept of Kampf as a personal struggle"to promote justice and understanding in ourselves and in our society." The dean promises,"The audience will find his oration, as did all the Harvard judges, a light of hope and reason in a world often darkened by distrust and conflict."

Then the student turns out to be past president of the Harvard German Society, a group with a pro-Nazi taint - but the administration still isn't bothered. Nor is it perturbed that he praised a Nazi front group for its"incredible work" as well as its"professionalism, compassion and dedication to helping people in dire need," then raised money for it.

Far-fetched? Sure. But exactly this scenario unfolded last week at Harvard. Just replace"German,""Nazi," and"Kampf" with"Islamic,""militant Islamic" and"jihad."

Faculty members chose Zayed Yasin, 22 and the past president of the Harvard Islamic Society, to deliver a commencement address. He earlier had sung the praises of and raised money for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, a militant Islamic group closed down by President Bush.

Yasin titled his talk"American Jihad," echoing Osama bin Laden's jihad against the United States. Yasin declared an intention to convince his audience of 32,000 that"Jihad is not something that should make someone feel uncomfortable."

Hmm. The authoritative"Encyclopaedia of Islam" defines jihad as"military action with the object of the expansion of Islam," and finds that it"has principally an offensive character." The scholar Bat Ye'or explains for non-Muslims through history this has meant"war, dispossession . . . slavery and death." That does indeed sound like"something that should make someone feel uncomfortable."

Sadly, this episode is no aberration, but indicative of two important developments.

Apologizing for militant Islam: Hiding jihad's awful legacy is standard operating procedure at Harvard. A professor of Islamic history portrays jihad as"a struggle without arms." The Harvard Islamic Society's faculty adviser defines true jihad as no more fearsome than"to do good in society." All this is part of a pattern of pretending Islam had nothing to do with 9/11.

Neutral in wartime. Harvard appears neutral in the current war, as Harvard Business School student Pat Collins pointed out in a scathing Washington Times op-ed. Take the example of Hamas: While President Bush has called it"one of the deadliest terrorist organizations in the world today," a Harvard spokesman replies"no comment" when asked if it is a terrorist organization and the university has allowed fund-raising on its premises on behalf of Hamas.

Even today, militant Islamic groups have full access to university facilities and the right to advertise their activities. Yet the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), a training program for the U.S. armed forces, is the only student group at Harvard to be denied access to university facilities and disallowed from advertising its activities.

Unfortunately, Harvard's stance is typical of nearly all North America universities. Almost every Middle East specialist hides the truth about jihad and (as shown by a chilling report from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, Defending Civilization) almost every campus drips contempt for the U.S. war effort (typical statement:"The best way to begin a war on terrorism might be to look in the mirror").

"You are with us, or you are against us": Harvard and other universities need to look hard into their soul and decide on which side they stand.

This piece originally appeared in the New York Post and is reprinted with permission.

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Jill smith - 12/10/2003

My professor is a communist who wants to destroy capitalism worldwide and who denies that Goerge W. Bush is even President

Gerry Regan - 6/20/2002

You raise an interesting point. Why did Kennedy admire Hitler? It would seem, according to Higham, that he and many Irish-Americans of conservative and Catholic bent, most fans of Father Coughlin, took a shining to Hitler, who they saw leading the effort to scourge the world of Godless communism.

What made Joe Kennedy a Democrat? That I do not know. Perhaps he was simply an opportunist rather than a true believer.

And in fairness to Roosevelt, he did rid himself of Kennedy finally.

I never mentioned anything about a conspiracy. I discussed a mindset.

Chris Messner - 6/20/2002

"these individuals came from the political right, Pipe's political forebears."

Wasn't Jack Kennedy's, the very popular democrat president, genetic forebear Joe the premier fascist supporter before the war? Lets see, he was a US ambassador under Roosevelt, another democrat, right? Yes must be a long lasting right wing conspiracy.


Mark Safranski - 6/16/2002

Gerry Regan is engaging in a typical leftist ad hominem smear of Dr. Pipes. Regan has little capability for cogent thought if his best response is to crudely allude that Dr. Pipes, a noted scholar, is somehow related to 1930's fascist sympathizers. The Left has had little to say for some time and the War on Terrorism is brininging out that movement's ugliest impulses.

Gerry Regan - 6/14/2002

I'm reading Charles Higham's book "American Swastika," and, if he can be believed -- I have no reason to doubt him -- I find it quite conceivable that an American senator, much less a valedictorian, could have given a speech titled "American Kampf," albeit before Pearl Harbor. Pipe's analogy seems quite ironic as at least several American senators and congressmen lavishly and publicly praised fascism prior to Dec. 11, 1941. Interestingly, these individuals came from the political right, Pipe's political forebears.

Peter Duus - 6/12/2002

Just out of curiosity I looked up jihad (also spelled jehad) in the "authoritative" Encyclopedia Britannica,The entry indicates that the word is used to denote a religious duty to spread Islam by waging war but adds that jihad has come into "widespread use to denote a conflict waged for principle or belief." It goes on to say that modern Islam "places special emphasis on waging war with one's inner self" and "sanctions war with other nations only as a defensive measure when the faith is danger." Have subversive Middle Eastern experts taken over this veneraable publication, or is it simply the case (as Professor Pipes must know) that words change their meaning over time? It is sad to see this kind of anti-Islamic hysteria being spread by such a distinguished scholar.

aisha sobh - 6/12/2002

Once again Mr. Pipes has shown his gift for avoiding the real issues, whether the actual content of the Harvard student's speech, or the occupation of Palestinians. Why can't he be just a tad more 'frank' and admit his real fear? That American Muslims (whether they be originally from the Middle East or the Mayflower) are increasing and will soon outnumber Jews in the U.S.? That they are going to be increasingly allied with other Americans (who are Christian, Jewish, Bhuddist, secular or whatever) who have had enough with 'the end justifies the means mentality'. Horrors when there are articulate, educated Americans who are interested enough in the issues to actually try to do what AIPAC, the Defense Industry and the other myriad of special interests in engage in: sway public and government opinion. I predict that it is just a matter of time before his statements create a backlash against him and the Sharonistas he is trying to protect.