When Professors Fail to Do Their Homework

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I must confess I care little for people who have no notions beyond generalities and who don’t bother to do their homework when offering an opinion or analysis of any issue. To me, their worldview — indeed their moral and ethical "map" of global civilization — is far too small and conveys no true picture at all.

Take, for example, the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims — of which 750,000 call Canada home. If you count an average of one Imam (spiritual teacher) for every 1,000 Muslims, then in Canada alone we have some 750 full- or part- time Imams; the worldwide total would stand at about 1.3 million Imams.

As with leaders in any mainstream faith, some are very well educated, with Ph.Ds or their equivalent, as well as other post graduate or post-doctoral training; others have minimal religious training. You’ll find the same breakdown of expertise among any widespread religious community — Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs, you name it.

These community-serving individuals go by different titles; Imam, teacher, Sheikh, Sheikha, Kateeb, or just plain Brother or Sister before their names. They include both men and women, are paid by central or local organizations, or are dedicated volunteers.

But they all share a common choice in their decision to serve their co- religioinists to the best of their respective abilities and understandings.

It goes without saying that these people range from ultra-orthodox to liberal in their functional approach to religion. And for sure, they are not all saints. Some are, but others are not.

And, as with any secular profession, we must acknowledge that a few are really, really bad. That’s life, that’s the diversity of humankind; like it or not, it’s a diversity we are given to work with.

So to conclude, for example, that all medical doctors are bad, corrupt, incompetent or evil because a very few have abused their patients or cheated on their billing, is not only blatantly illogical but must be motivated by hate or cruel malice.

Following the London bombings of 7/7 Salim Mansur, a newspaper columnist for Sun Media, stated with absolute certainty; "It is now abundantly clear the source of Muslim terrorism is situated within the body politic of Islam and its adherents, irrespective of how many times, on the one hand, some Muslim spokespersons try to obscure this reality and, on the other, politicians of whatever stripe for electoral purposes behave as ostriches with their heads in the sand."

Mansur should know better. As an academic and associate professor of political science, he should know from the outset that for any credible analysis you must get the facts right and stay away from provocative, self- serving rhetoric.

Far from following the basics of his profession, however, Mansur continues; "[Young British Muslims] got programmed into becoming militants, some eventually into suicide bombers, by Islamists proselytizing in Muslim- organized centres, listening to imams preach a fundamentalist and sectarian version of Islam, and watching inflammatory anti-West, anti-Israel, and anti-Hindu television programs produced by the likes of al-Jazeera."

And he doesn’t stop there: "Public relations exercises mounted by Muslim organizations in Britain, as in Canada and the U.S., with imams as their leading spokesmen (since they are all men) condemning violence in abstract generalities, can only delude the most gullible, uninformed segment of the population in liberal democracies. Historically, the role of imams in preaching a version of Islam for violent political ends is indisputable."

Now let us be honest here: is Prof. Mansur contributing anything of substance to the art of in-depth analysis? Is he even suggesting it? Or, or he is sticking to a pre-concocted script of shameful generalizations founded on equally shameful lies?

Consider how the world looks, according to Salim Mansur:

1. Muslims commit terrorist acts exclusively because of Islam (he does not accuse any other world religion of doctrinally endorsed terrorism — he wouldn’t dare).

2. Some Muslim spokespersons try to obscure this "reality." Here, Mansur pretends to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth (whose "truth"?).

3. Politicians "of whatever stripe" who cannot accept Mansur’s truth are offering humane alternatives, not for the sake of faith or altruism, but merely for "electoral purposes."

4. British Muslims are being programmed by "Islamists proselytizing in Muslim-organized centres." Really? And what kind of research funding would be available to compile irrefutable evidence of this nation-wide conspiracy? Even after years of research, legitimate social scientists are split on issues as fundamental as the possible correlation of spreading violence among American youth and the availability of violent video/computer games. Apparently, Prof. Mansur knows something that accredited social scientists do not.

5. Al-Jazeera airs "anti-West, anti-Israel, and anti-Hindu television programs." This is blatantly false, but such details do not seem to matter in Mansur’s limited worldview. He is not Arabic-speaking, so he must base his disinformation on sources that are secondary at best, and barely relevant at worst. And by the way, this is the first time (to my knowledge) that Al-Jazeera has ever been accused of being "anti-Hindu." A novelty for sure, Professor!

6. Muslim organizations denounce acts of terrorism not because they are truly committed to eradicating it, but merely as "public relations exercises." Such an assertion is beneath contempt.

7. When Imams denounce terrorism, they "can only delude the most gullible, uninformed segment of the population." — but not Salim Mansur of course! Just who does he think he is trashing with such a ridiculous assumption. You? Me?

8. And finally, among the historical qualifications for any Imam in Mansur’s world is the ability to preach "a version of Islam for violent political ends."

My horrified congratulations go to you, Professor — what a perfect "analysis"!

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