Lying about Islam: Daniel Tutt

Sometimes, on this site, one “useful stooge” leads to another. It’s not surprising. These stooges tend to move in packs. It’s that lockstep-ideology thing. Strength in numbers – or, actually, cowardice in numbers. The more Maoists, the merrier.

Daniel Tutt

This year we’ve spent a good deal of time on Islamic apologist extraordinaire Jonathan A. C. Brown. One of his comrades and collaborators, it turns out, is a fellow named Daniel Tutt, who like many of today’s intellectuals, academics, and activists is what you might call a red-green type, combining Marx with Muhammed, Das Kapital with the Koran. Tutt’s résumé is packed with the names of various benign-sounding activities – “interfaith” this, “dialogue” that, organizations devoted to “peace” and “reconciliation” between Islam and whatever. We listed the names of some of these organizations yesterday. If they bring to mind the equally congenial-sounding names of various Soviet front groups of the Cold War era, well, there’s a very good reason for that.

Bottom line: this guy is a hardcore Islamic ideologist masquerading as a gentle bridge-builder.

One of the items he’s shilled for in his role as “Outreach Director” of the Unity Productions Foundation, which makes pro-Islam propaganda, is a video called American Muslims: Facts vs. Fiction. It’s an inexpensive, You Tube-friendly product that starts out with Muslims staring into the camera and citing various “stereotypes about Muslims.” For example: “Muslim women are oppressed.”

And: “The Koran teaches hate.” Sorry, but these aren’t “stereotypes”; they’re hard facts. No, not every Muslim woman is oppressed, and not every word of the Koran teaches hate. But hundreds of millions of Muslim women are treated as less than second-class citizens – according to Islam, they’re the property of their husbands; their testimony in court is worth half that of a man; their husbands can rape, beat, and divorce them at will; and so on.

Eli Clifton

And all that nastiness about women accounts for only a fraction of the hate in the Koran, a book that American Muslims consistently misrepresents. There are certain lines of the Koran that are routinely yanked out of context in order to make Islam look benign: this film quotes several of them reliably. One guy actually tells us that the idea that one should “show mercy to those on earth” is “the cornerstone of what Islam teaches.” Indeed, American Muslims lays on the lies from beginning to end. Among the film’s talking heads is Eli Clifton, co-author of Fear Inc., a 2011 “report” that demonizes honest critics of Islamic ideology as purveyors of hate. The film is whitewashing, pure and simple.

Susan Sarandon

A more high-profile film fronted by Tutt is a 2011 documentary entitled Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World. Premiered at the Kennedy Center, broadcast a few month later on PBS, and narrated by Susan Sarandon, it’s part of a larger, long-term enterprise called “the Bridging Cultures: Muslim Journeys bookshelf.” And what exactly is that? It’s an initiative that, among other things, provides “[f]ree books and films” about Islam to libraries – another way of saying that it packs the shelves of public libraries with its brainwashing materials.

And the suckers are falling for it. In a 2012 interview (see bel0w) with Terrilynn Chun of the American Library Association, Tutt complained that for the previous eleven years Americans had been inundated with messages and images associating Islam with violence (gee, wonder why?), and said that in order to counter those messages and images the UPF was providing “humanizing stories about Muslims” that “dispel stereotypes.” (“Great!” replied a cheery Chun.) He added that the UPF also supplies this stuff to schools. (“Wonderful!” said Chun.) And it also distributes them to museums: Islamic Art, he added, had already been screened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and several other major U.S. art museums (in addition to being in the collections of over 500 libraries worldwide).

Meet Daniel Tutt, acolyte of both Marxism and Islam

Jonathan A. C. Brown

Yesterday we featured a follow-up on Jonathan A.C. Brown, the Muslim convert, Georgetown University professor, and full-time Islamic apologist who is wont to defend slavery and child bribes and who keeps throwing critics out of his lectures. Or, at least, one critic, Andrew Harrod, who recently recounted his expulsion by Brown from yet another Georgetown event. This latest episode introduced a new character into our story: one Daniel Tutt, whom Harrod identified as being associated both with Marymount University and with Unity Productions Foundation (UPF), “a producer of pro-Islam films.” It was Tutt who had invited Harrod to the event – obviously by mistake – and Tutt who, in Harrod’s presence, “obsequiously” apologized to Brown for having done so.

Daniel Tutt

Who is Daniel Tutt? In addition to having been involved since 2007 with the UPF, where he’s “Director of Programs and Producer,” and since December 2015 with Marymount, where he’s an adjunct professor of philosophy, he’s an “expert” at the Institute for Social Progress and Understanding (ISPU), whose website describes him as an “interfaith activist with a focus on anti-Muslim bigotry and interfaith dialogue.” But that’s not all: he’s alsothe project director for 20,000 Dialogues, a national interfaith and cross-cultural dialogue project sponsored by the Unity Productions Foundation.”

At UPF, according to its website, Tutt “has overseen and helped to develop lesson plans, curricula and websites including American Muslims: Facts vs. Fiction20,000 Dialogues, My Fellow American and Understanding Muslim Diversity.” Previously, he was “co-director of the 9/11 Unity Walk, a multi-city interfaith peace walk that brings faith communities together for dialogue and reconciliation.” He’s also been associated with the Points of Light Foundation and has been an “adviser” for “the Washington Region for Justice and Inclusion, the Muslim Advisory Arts Council of Americans for Informed Democracy, and the United Religions Initiative of Washington, DC.” You get the picture.

Alain Badiou

Tutt attended Southern Oregon University and American University before getting his Ph.D. in 2014 from the European Graduate School, where he wrote a dissertation about four postmodern philosophers – Alain Badiou, Slavoj Žižek, Ernesto Laclau, and Jean-Luc Nancy. On top of everything else, he’s also directed a film, Insurrections, about “the role of philosophy and thinking since the period of intensified rioting and protests beginning in August of 2010 in London and then continuing to Arab regions, before igniting in the Occupy Wall Street movements globally.”

Jean-Luc Nancy

The combination on Tutt’s curriculum vitae of postmodern academic pursuits and his involvement in Islamic propaganda projects – not to mention his making of a film which somehow, apparently, manages to fit into both categories – strongly suggests both that he’s a member of what’s sometimes called the red-green coalition, which brings together Communists and Muslims as strategic allies, and that he somehow manages the intellectual feat of having one foot in each camp. This fact becomes clearer the more closely one at Tutt’s work: this, one discovers, is a man who’s written with equal enthusiasm about Marx and Muhammed.

Want more details? Tune in tomorrow.

Islamic slavery defender is still at it — and he’s got allies

Jonathan A. C. Brown

He’s at it again. In March, we met Jonathan A. C. Brown, a Muslim convert and current head of Georgetown University’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding – which is, in effect, a fully paid-for propaganda arm of the Saudi royal family. Our story focused on a February 7 lecture by Brown entitled “Islam and the Problem of Slavery.” It was a masterpiece of evasion, euphemism, exculpation, and prevarication. Brown pulled out all the stops in his effort to defend and normalize slavery under Islam.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal

For example, Muslim masters treat their slaves well – often better than their own sons! A slave in a rich Arab household is better off than a member of an Arizona chain gang! Some slaves in the Ottoman Empire actually lived well, wielded power, and enjoyed respect! He claimed (providing no evidence) that Muslim slavery has never been “racialized” and that it’s “kinder and gentler” than antebellum slavery in the U.S. South. Besides, calling a slave a slave is really incorrect, because slaves do get paid in the form of food, clothing, and shelter! Anyway, what does “slave” really mean? What do we mean when we speak of one person “owning” another? Isn’t it all relative? Aren’t we all part of a complex network in which each of us has power over others and others have power over us?

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian

It was a breathtaking display, a stunning defense of the indefensible. And it stunned some members of his audience. During the Q & A, Brown out did himself, stating explicitly: “It’s not immoral for one human to own another human.” He compared slavery to regular employment and to marriage. (He had a point: under Islam, marriage is ownership.) Brown even said it was O.K. for slave owners to rape their slaves. “Consent isn’t necessary for lawful sex,” he maintained, explaining that “consent is a modern Western concept.”

Looking into Brown’s background, we uncovered other, equally interesting statements by him. In one lecture, for example, he defended Muhammed’s marriage to a six-year-old girl, dismissing concerns about it as ridiculous – back in those days, he insisted, “everyone” married children. Asked in 2015 by Variety, the showbiz publication, to provide an Islamic perspective on same-sex marriage, Brown served up a masterwork of doubletalk, doing his best to avoid stating the plain and simple fact that his religion isn’t just opposed to same-sex marriage – it calls for the coldblooded murder of gay people.

Andrew Harrod

When challenged by critics, Brown lashed out, accusing them of Islamophobia. Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian of Foreign Policy magazine even rushed to his defense.

Now he’s in the headlines again. On April 14, journalist Andrew Harrod, who had already been expelled (on Brown’s orders) from Brown’s February 7 defense of Islamic slavery, reported that on March 16 he had been thrown out of another Georgetown event, the so-called Peace Requires Encounter Summit. Harrod explained the premise of the event: it “ostensibly sought to ‘build relationships’ – apparently only with those approved by Islamic supremacists” The co-sponsors of the summit “included the Muslim Brotherhood-derived Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Franciscan Action Network (FAN), and Unity Productions Foundation (UPF), a producer of pro-Islam films.” Harrod had been legitimately invited to the summit by a UPF representative, Daniel Tutt of Marymount University, but when Brown glimpsed him at the event, he “demanded that I leave.” Brown them summoned Tutt, who “obsequiously acknowledged his mistake in having invited a ‘noted Islamophobe’ who had ‘slandered’ Brown.”

The net widens. We know who Jonathan Brown is. But who is Daniel Tutt? Answers tomorrow.

Bethany Allen: defending a slavery defender

Jonathan A.C. Brown

We saw yesterday how Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, with the surprising (and dismaying) support of Foreign Policy magazine, served up a disingenous apologia in mid March for Jonathan A.C. Brown. Brown, an Islamic convert who is head of the Islamic propaganda factory at Georgetown University known as the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (it’s named for the Saudi royal who bankrolled it), had given a lecture in February in which he made the mistake of telling a little bit too much truth about his adopted religion. Islam, he made clear, thinks slavery is O.K. And so does he. Allen-Ebrahimian’s attempt to rehabilitate Brown consisted of two parts: a wholesale misrepresentation of his lecture (he was actually criticizing slavery, Allen-Ebrahimian insisted, not supporting it) and a thoroughgoing slander of Brown’s critics (who, she explained, are nothing but Islamophobes). She focused especially on Robert Spencer, an informed and articulate critic of Islam and the proprietor of the Jihad Watch website.

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian and her husband

On March 22, Spencer shot back. “Foreign Policy magazine has published a lurid fantasy,” he wrote, summing up Allen-Ebrahimian’s argument as follows: “a sinister and well-heeled cabal of racist, bigoted ‘Islamophobes’ have smeared a thoughtful, mild-mannered academic, Professor Jonathan Brown of Georgetown University, and opened him up to death threats, as part of a larger endeavor to do nothing less than deprive Muslims of the freedom of speech.” Spencer’s reply: “In reality, just about the opposite is true, and this Foreign Policy article is a sterling example of the victimhood propaganda that the establishment media uses in order to cover for its own and deflect attention away from unpleasant realities of Islam.” Spencer went on:

“Brown’s attempts to explain the faith,” we’re told, “have made him a hate figure for the American right. A flood of articles accuse him of being an apologist for slavery and rape.”

No, his “attempts to explain the faith” didn’t make him into a “hate figure.” His acting quite clearly as an apologist for slavery and rape did that, if he is actually a “hate figure” at all.

Rejecting Allen-Ebrahimian’s absurd claim that Brown had “addressed slavery in Islam, hoping to combat the idea that Islam could ever condone the subjugation and exploitation of human beings,” Spencer pointed out that “Brown did not combat the idea that Islam condoned slavery. He said: ‘I don’t think it’s morally evil to own somebody.’ He also condoned rape of the female non-Muslim war captives: ‘Consent isn’t necessary for lawful sex.’” Spencer linked to a video of Brown’s lecture and encouraged readers to watch it and see for themselves. As for Allen-Ebrahimian’s claim that Brown was the target of some far-right Islamophobic cabal, Spencer noted that “it was a fellow Muslim, Umar Lee, who first blew the whistle on Brown’s apologetics for slavery and rape.”

Spencer also expressed doubt about Allen-Ebrahimian’s claim that Brown had received death threats. (“There are so very many fake anti-Muslim hate crimes, and it is the Left today, not the Right, that is thuggish, hateful and violent. Unless Brown publishes specifics of threats he has received, and reports them to law enforcement, as I myself have done many times with death threats I have received from his coreligionists, his claim warrants extreme skepticism.”)

Robert Spencer

What about Allen-Ebrahimian’s assertion that he and others were out “to marginalize any Muslim who speaks out”? Spencer reminded readers that Brown’s critics were hardly in a position to “marginalize” anybody. After all, it is Brown, not most of his critics, who enjoys a plum job at a respected university and can count on powerful publications such as Foreign Policy and the Washington Post to come to his defense. Also, while Brown’s critics were only responding in a civilized way to a set of barbaric pronouncements by Brown – quoting him verbatim, posting the video of his lecture, and calling him out on the things he had actually said – Allen-Ebrahimian was slickly misrepresenting Brown’s statements and his critics’ statements as well as impugning the latter’s motives.

And of Allen-Ebrahimian’s characterization of Brown as a “normal American Muslim”? No way: “His father-in-law, Sami al-Arian, is a convicted jihad terror leader.” Interesting to know. In her conclusion, Allen-Ebrahimian had been pleased to report that Georgetown University “had remained very supportive” of him. Of course it had! As Spencer neatly put it: “Georgetown gets far too much Saudi money” to do otherwise.

Foreign Policy: a despicable whitewash

Jonathan A.C. Brown

Back in March, we spent several days examining Jonathan A. C. Brown, a convert to Islam who runs Georgetown University’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and teaches in Georgetown’s Department of Arab and Islamic Studies. In particular, we paid attention to a February lecture by Brown entitled “Islam and the Problem of Slavery,” in which he did a masterful job of whitewashing his adopted faith. His lecture professed to address the question: “Is there slavery in Islam?” The answer to this question is clear: Yes. But Brown served up one ridiculous qualifier after another.

What, after all, he wondered aloud, do we mean by slavery? The line between a slave and some paid employees, he suggested, is not a clear one. (Ridiculous.) In many ways, people are “slaves” to their spouses and others whom they love. (Also ridiculous.) Slaves in Muslim households have traditionally been treated much better than prisoners on American chain gangs. (Prove it.) Unlike antebellum slavery in the American South, Muslim slavery has never been “racialized.” (An outright lie.) During the days of the Ottoman Empire, many slaves were well-treated and widely respected. (Again, prove it. And even if true, so what?) Brown waxed philosophical: “What does ownership mean?” “[W]hat does freedom mean?” After his talk, Brown entertained questions from the audience, and in reply to one of them he stated quite clearly: “It’s not immoral for one human to own another human.”

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian

Deservedly, Brown’s lecture drew widespread attention and condemnation. But others have rushed to his defense. Enter Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, who, writing on March 16 under the aegis of the respected journal Foreign Policy (where she is an assistant editor), presented the reaction to Brown as an example of Islamophobia. The title of her piece was “The Making of Islamophobia Inc.,” and under the title was this summary: “A well-funded network is trying to strip the right to speak away from American Muslims and fanning the politics of fear.” Allen-Ebrahimian argued that while Brown’s work is largely “aimed at making Islamic thought more accessible to general audiences,” his “attempts to explain the faith have made him a hate figure for the American right.” In his February lecture, she claimed, Brown had “addressed slavery in Islam, hoping to combat the idea that Islam could ever condone the subjugation and exploitation of human beings.”

Robert Spencer

In response, according to Allen-Ebrahimian, right-wingers had come out in force, misrepresenting Brown’s arguments. Brown, she lamented, “is the victim of an increasingly empowered industry of Islamophobia that constricts the space for balanced and open dialogue, sidelining the very Muslims who are doing the most to promote peaceful, orthodox interpretations of Islam.” Allen-Ebrahimian compared these critics of Brown to “the McCarthyites of the 1950s.” Singling out one of those critics, the Islam expert Robert Spencer, Allen-Ebrahimian actually suggested that Spencer’s writings had inspired the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik. She also cited such websites as the Daily Caller, Heat Street, and Breitbart, calling them part of “a self-reinforcing online ecosystem that churns out frenzied headlines and constructs alternate online biographies…in which normal American Muslims are painted as Muslim Brotherhood-linked, jihad-loving, rape-defending threats to the American way of life. Brown’s lecture lasted like chum in shark-infested waters.”

Fortunately, Allen-Ebrahimian’s reprehensible, mendacious screed wasn’t allowed to stand. Tune in tomorrow.

Rewarding hate at Orange Coast College

Olga Perez Stable Cox

We recently covered the story of Olga Perez Stable Cox, a teacher of Human Sexuality at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California, who got her fifteen minutes of fame back in December when a videotape of one her classroom rants was posted online. The subject of the rant was Donald Trump, whom she called a “white supremacist,” whose election she described as an act of terrorism, and whose supporters, including some of her own students, she had done her best to try to humiliate, calling on Trump voters in the classroom “to stand up and show the rest of the class who to watch out for and protect yourself from.” Several of Cox’s students later told the media that such rants on her part were a frequent occurrence, and that her goal was plainly not to engage students in constructive dialogue but to “bash” and “belittle” Trump supporters and paint every one of them as “an LGBT community hating white supremacist.”

Caleb O’Neil

After the video went viral, the university administration and faculty snapped into action. No, they didn’t punish Cox – they went after freshman Caleb O’Neil, who had taken the video. The teacher’s union threatened to sue him; the school threatened to suspend him. (In fact, he was suspended, although, thanks probably to the international media attention, his suspension was later rescinded.) For her part, Cox, far from expressing any remorse or showing any sign of self-reflection, took her ranting public, insisting that she was the victim her, that she was the one who was being bullied, and that the students who were complaining about her classroom behavior were “part of a national campaign to intimidate liberal professors.”

Peter Holley

Well, guess what? There’s more news from the Cox front. On March 28, Peter Holley reported in the Washington Post that Cox has now been named Orange Coast College’s Faculty Member of the Year.

Holley’s own account of the videotape episode was outrageously slanted, implicitly affirming Cox’s own view of herself as a victim of a conservative conspiracy. Cox, he wrote, “had come to embody everything that many conservatives despise about higher education”: she was “openly gay” and “pushed conventional boundaries” in her sexuality classes. Sorry, but in today’s academy there’s nothing surprising about an openly gay professor talking frankly about sexuality, especially when the subject of the class is Sexuality Studies. (To be sure, Holley also mentioned that Cox had called Trump’s election an “act of terrorism,” but this seemed a mere footnote: as Holley framed it, Cox had been a thorn in many reactionaries’ sides for a long time, simply because she was gay and talked about sex.)

Rob Schneiderman

Holley, who actually described Cox as a “beloved professor,” also accepted as factual her unsubstantiated claim that she had been “forced to flee her home in December after her provocative comments about Trump’s election went viral, unleashing a flood of hate-filled emails that included violent threats.” (Note that Holley doesn’t describe Cox’s own remarks about her Trump-supporting students as “hate-filled.”) Holley quoted some epithets from the emails Cox had received: they included “libtard,” “Marxist,” “nut case,” “vile leftist filth” and a “satanic cult member.” The implication here is that such language was out of line; it doesn’t seem to occur to Holley that when you call an election an “act of terrorism” and a president a “white supremacist” you have to expect to get as good as you give. Holley quotes Rob Schneiderman, head of the local teachers’ union (which is apparently largely responsible for her award), as calling Cox “a dynamic and inspirational professor” and echoing Cox’s line that she, not pro-Trump students, was the victim of “bullying and intolerance and scapegoating.” But although Holley mentions Caleb O’Neil in passing, he omits to recount the vicious effort by Cox’s union and the school administration to destroy the student’s academic career.

Wrote Holley toward the end of his article: “Schneiderman said the Faculty Member of the Year award is meant to highlight Cox’s dedicated approach to her students and their well-being.” The unintended irony would be funny if it weren’t so thoroughly appalling.  

Hooey from Hughey

So far this week we’ve met a couple of college professors who, not realizing they were being videotaped, browbeat their students after Donald Trump’s election victory – and ended up going viral. Today we’ll pay a quick visit to an academic who went public himself with his reaction to the election results.

hughey
Matthew Hughey

His name: Matthew Hughey. An Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Connecticut (he’s also on the Adjunct Faculty of the Africana Studies Institute and American Studies Program), he’s written several books with titles like The White Savior Film; Race and Ethnicity in Secret and Exclusive Social Orders; White Bound: Nationalists, Antiracists, and the Shared Meanings of Race; The Obamas and a (Post) Racial America?; and 12 Angry Men: True Stories of Being a Black Man in America Today.

Plainly, the red thread running through his work is race. According to him, all of his scholarship is guided by a single question: “What is the relationship between the heterogeneous interpretations of race and the long-term staying power of racism and racial inequality?” We’re not sure that we entirely understand this question, but let’s not allow that to distract us. In order to probe his guiding question, Hughey explains, he studies “race and ethnicity as a dynamic and ongoing practice with an emphasis on racism, meaning-making, and asymmetrical relations of power.” So race and ethnicity are practices? Or, rather, a practice? Welcome to academia. “A thorough scholastic comprehension of race,” Hughey maintains, “must move beyond views of static identities or ideologies. Rather, an understanding of the processes and contexts that produce race, how race is imbued with particular meanings, and how race constrains and enables pathways of human action and order, is necessary.”

Um, what? Hold on, his next paragraph is quite a bit clearer:

I situate my worldview against concepts of social life that are entirely individualistic and which analyze society only in terms of psychological make-up, skills, and atomistic behaviors. These assumptions gesture toward a belief that social structures will magically change via one’s hard work, good intentions, or education. History affords too many examples of participation by the “righteous,” “educated,” and “hard-working” in structures of oppression to allow any objective observer of social life to accept that notion that equitable or just social arrangements are based entirely on the redemption of the individual without direct attention to external social forces.

Simply put: black people are still held back by racism, no matter how skilled they are and how hard they work. There’s a degree of truth in this, of course. Prejudice has held back all kinds of people in every society throughout human history. The main point, however, should be that America today is less racist than virtually any country at any time, ever. Four years ago, as it happens, the World Values Survey found that the U.S. is one of the least racist countries on earth. Check out this map, which suggests that a serious, scrupulous scholar who was genuinely interested in exploring racism would do far better to study India, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Nigeria, Indonesia – in fact almost anywhere outside of the Americas, the Anglosphere, and Scandinavia – than to focus on the U.S.

racism

But to the likes of Hughey, racism in the above-named countries – racism everywhere other than in the West – is invisible. Or irrelevant. Or, perhaps, attributable, via some contorted academic logic, to Western colonialism and/or American imperialism. For the whole point of the kind of “scholarship” that people like Hughey pursue is to prove, for the millionth time, that America is Ground Zero for all human iniquity. Again, yes, there is abundant iniquity in the U.S. But there’s more of it almost everywhere else on the planet. And to ignore that fact as systematically as Hughey and other academics in the social sciences do today is to give a pass to a great deal of outright evil.

Which brings us to Hughey’s take on Donald Trump’s election. He wasn’t happy with it, of course – and he blamed it on (what else?) white supremacism. When confronted on this assertion by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Hughey readily added that Trump’s ascendancy was also the fault of three other vices: sexism, heteronormativity, and capitalism. But the main cause of Trump’s win, he insisted, was race – because America is and has always been afflicted by white supremacy. There was, to be sure, one little detail Hughey didn’t explain: how had an electorate so thoroughly and permanently poisoned by a white supremacist mentality managed to elect a black man to the presidency twice in a row?