is easy to appreciate the sentiments in the photo, but it is
also important to be open to learning something about those
we consider the enemy. Consider that "the university in Chapel Hill is asking all
3,500 incoming freshmen to read a book about Islam and finds itself besieged in federal court and across the airwaves by Christian evangelists and other conservatives."
Trust the press to step in and raise the level of
discussion: "But a national TV talk show host, Fox News Network's Bill O'Reilly, compared the assignment to teaching
"Mein Kampf" in 1941 and questioned the purpose of making freshmen study "our enemy's religion."
(Two paragraphs from A Timely Subject -- and a Sore
One: UNC Draws Fire, Lawsuit for Assigning Book on
Islam. Washington Post, August 7, p A01).
Freshman seemed to have a much healthier perspective: "After the terrorist attacks, I was so angry that I really didn't care to learn anything about Muslims," said Matthew Dale, an 18-year-old freshmen from Raleigh, N.C. "But I know now that refusing to
learn is what causes more anger and confusion. I'm
glad they chose this book. I still have a lot of questions, but at least this was a start." (from
N.C. University Students Discuss Readings in Islam:
Christian Group Sought to Bar Assignment on Koran. Washington
Post, August 20, P A02)
Book is Approaching the
Qur'an: The Early Revelations. The text above is from
the August- Part 1 edition of
my Weblog/News Blog.
ABCNews Nightline did a segment on this controversy. The
reading is now optional, although one student was excited
about it: "It was the first time he'd read anything about Islam, and he wanted to talk about it.
'I feel like I learned a lot, because, I mean, I really didn't know that much about Islam before I
began,' Gilbert said.
'I knew they worshipped Allah, and prayed five times a day. That was about
Chancellor commented: "I knew there would be controversy, but I never imagined
international attention to this. I mean, to a two-hour discussion group over an assigned book.
think it says a lot about our country, not all of it good."
book's author: "'There's a large undercurrent out there that did not believe President Bush when he said Islam is not our
enemy,' Sells said. 'We don't need to condemn those people, or dismiss them. We should talk with them and really talk this thing through, because
we're going to be involved in conflicts in areas with largely Muslim populations for the foreseeable