Sherman Jackson, who now occupies the Saudi-funded (and grandiosely titled) King Faisal Chair of Islamic Thought and Culture and Professor of Religion and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, followed, explaining that it was a “matter of duty to come and speak here today.” Adding to the chorus of voices lauding Abou El Fadl’s heroism against the supposed onslaught of American Islamophobia, Jackson—also known as Abdal Hakim Jackson—then noted:
I am an African-American convert to Islam. I live in a so-called democratic country. America has been a ‘democratic’ country for two-hundred years, and yet has a past of deep racial issues. . . . Fadl’s struggle is our struggle as a nation. What happens to Khaled happens to us.
Having stated at a December 2009 convention that “his primary commitment was to Allah, not to America,” Jackson’s contempt for American democracy is no surprise.
Jackson congratulated the students in attendance for having the “courage to stand up against Islamophobia” by celebrating Abou El Fadl’s storied career and concluded his talk with an Arabic adage: “Those who are silent in the face of injustice are dumb mutes.” As an advocate for implementing the barbarism of Sharia law in the U.S., Jackson clearly does not apply the same standard to himself. Moreover, it takes no “courage” to participate in an event characterized by intellectual and political uniformity.
Echoing the previous speakers, Susan Slymovics, UCLA anthropology professor and director of its Center for Near Eastern Studies, concluded the evening with another fawning tribute to Abou El Fadl, whose “brave research,” she claimed, “has raised awareness about racism and Islamophobia both domestically and abroad.” If “raising awareness” about a phenomenon that does not exist—Muslims in America and throughout the West continue to thrive and enjoy the same rights and privileges as everyone else—and that is designed to silence legitimate criticism while avoiding much-needed reform is a mark of courage, then Abou El Fadl is the bravest of men.
Using the occasion as an opportunity to claim widespread Islamophobia and to bash Israel, the U.S., and the West—all the while demonstrating a comical capacity for self-regard—these four speakers provided a fitting tribute to Abou El Fadl, who has made a career out of doing exactly the same thing. He should feel honored, indeed.
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