suing for the right to remain ignorant

Last September, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced that its incoming and transfer freshmen would be assigned Michael Sells’ book Approaching the Quran. The decision was challenged in a federal lawsuit by the Family Policy Network, a “Christian group that claimed that UNC was advocating Islam, and thus violating the establishment clause of the Constitution.” Bill O’Reilly, the patron saint of the conservative right, and never one to pass up an opportunity for gross misrepresentation, called the move akin to making students read Mein Kampf. In a speech to the National Press Club, the Chancellor at UNC described some of the hate mail he received for his decision, and explained why the book was chosen. And now that the book has been read and discussed, and no mass conversions have taken place, and the Earth continued to turn, new charges are being made against the Sells book, by William Buckley (who admits he didn’t read the book). The charges are that it presents too “clean” a picture of Islam, that it doesn’t explain why 19 Muslims chose to blow up the WTC. Have you ever heard of a book on Bible exegesis that also had the burden to somehow explain the actions of the Ku Klux Klan? Neither have I.
Now, UNC announced plans to hold a series of round tables and seminars, sort of an Islam awareness week, taking place November 11th through the 15th. So what does the Family Policy Network do? It adds a new motion to its suit, to try to stop UNC from holding the seminar, on the grounds that the university is trying to spread Islam. Specifically they think that “the university is in essence trying to show the religion in a good light.” You see, if it had held round tables on how to best bash Islam, they wouldn’t have had such a hard time with it.


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