The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Our Friends

Most of us know that significant monies from Saudi Arabia are used to fund Madrassahs worldwide and more than a few mosques in Europe and the US. Troublesome, but freedom of religion and all that.

But I'll bet you didn't know that Saudi money is also being used to fund the development of “middle eastern studies” curricula and teaching materials for the K – 12 level in the USA. Stanley Kurtz explains:
How did they do it? Very carefully...and very cleverly. It turns out that the system of federal subsidies to university programs of Middle East Studies (under Title VI of the Higher Education Act) has been serving as a kind of Trojan horse for Saudi influence over American K-12 education. Federally subsidized Middle East Studies centers are required to pursue public outreach. That entails designing lesson plans and seminars on the Middle East for America’s K-12 teachers. These university-distributed teaching aids slip into the K-12 curriculum without being subject to the normal public vetting processes. Meanwhile, the federal government, which both subsidizes and lends its stamp of approval to these special K-12 course materials on the Middle East, has effectively abandoned oversight of the program that purveys them (Title VI).

Enter the Saudis. By lavishly funding several organizations that design Saudi-friendly English-language K-12 curricula, all that remains is to convince the “outreach coordinators” at prestigious, federally subsidized universities to purvey these materials to America’s teachers. And wouldn’t you know it, outreach coordinators or teacher-trainers at a number of university Middle East Studies centers have themselves been trained by the very same Saudi-funded foundations that design K-12 course materials. These Saudi-friendly folks happily build their outreach efforts around Saudi-financed K-12 curricula.

So let’s review. The United States government gives money — and a federal seal of approval — to a university Middle East Studies center. That center offers a government-approved K-12 Middle East studies curriculum to America’s teachers. But in fact, that curriculum has been bought and paid for by the Saudis, who may even have trained the personnel who operate the university’s outreach program. Meanwhile, the American government is asleep at the wheel — paying scant attention to how its federally mandated public outreach programs actually work. So without ever realizing it, America’s taxpayers end up subsidizing — and providing official federal approval for — K-12 educational materials on the Middle East that have been created under Saudi auspices. Game, set, match: Saudis.

Would it be “Islamophobic” to suggest that these materials should be carefully vetted for factual accuracy, balance, and intent? Would it be “racist” to suggest that any curriculum discussing the Middle East consider both the good and the bad. The bad would have to include Jihadist suicide bombers, honor killings and the (sometimes violent) subjugation of women, virulent homophobic and anti-Semitic cultures, theocratic regimes, repressive dictatorships, and a culture that according to a UN study, is an economic basket case, ranks poorly in technological innovation, secular scholarship … the list is long.

Bet the Saudi-sponsored curriculum doesn’t broach those subjects. After all, the K-12ers don’t have a need to know, do they?

But there’s nothing to worry about. After all, the Saudis are our friends.