The MSA is a Pro-Terror Organization · 13 December 2004

By Ben Johnson--FrontPageMagazine.com--12/14/04

FrontPage Magazine continues to draw headlines in our effort to secure academic freedom. On Monday the Star Press of Muncie, Indiana - the home of Ball State University - published a Guest Editorial by Fahad Alqurashi, the president of the Ball State University chapter of the Muslim Student Association. In his vacuous editorial, Alqurashi repeatedly made ad hominem attacks against FrontPageMag.com and columnist Thomas Ryan, stating Ryan's expose of BSU Professor George Wolfe's Peace Studies program is full of "false claims"(none of which he specifies). Below is the editorial Ben Johnson sent to the Star Press in response. In addition to Alqurashi's editorial, the newspaper also printed a letter-to-the-editor accusing David Horowitz of starting the controversy over campus indoctrination (!) and wrote its own editorial on the content of FrontPage Magazine's charges. All three are reproduced below Ben Johnson's response. For the full story of the indoctrination carried out by Ball State University Peace Studies Professor George Wolfe, please read to the pamphlet Indoctrination or Education? published by Students for Academic Freedom (and available in PDF format). Ben Johnson's editorial submission follows.

The Muslim Student Association is a Pro-Terror Organization

by Ben Johnson

In reading Fahad Alqurashi's recent Guest Editorial about FrontPage Magazine ("False Claims Slander Muslim Group at BSU," Dec. 13), which repeatedly accuses us of making "false claims," I was disappointed he refused to document a single falsehood in the course of its 457 words. Instead, the Saudi-born president of the Ball State chapter of the Saudi-funded Muslim Student Association (MSA) made endless ad hominem attacks against FrontPageMag.com and columnist Thomas Ryan in a vacuous (and possibly libelous) fashion.

The heart of Alqurashi's grievance is his claim that we wrongly branded the MSA as a pro-terrorist organization. He quotes that group's constitution's statement that it exists to "serve the best interests of Islam and Muslims in the United States." This is like saying the Ku Klux Klan is merely an "organization of White Christians dedicated to the truth and education." Islam expert Stephen Schwartz, himself a Muslim, notes the MSA is the leading evangelist of Wahhabism, Osama bin Laden's radical brand of fundamentalist Islam. Among the MSA's numerous pro-terrorist actions:

Thomas Ryan's article notes MSA "is steering committee member of the Marxist-Leninist-front group International ANSWER" and has raised money for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, "a 'charity' organization that funded the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas." For some reason, Mr. Alqurashi chose not to refute these "claims." Instead, he declared MSA "will continue to cooperate with those who work for the good of America." ANSWER is front group of International Action Center, run by Ramsey Clark, who has offered his legal services to Saddam Hussein, and considered the UN's timid WMD inspections an act of war against Iraq.

Alqurashi also claims we maligned Ball State Peace Studies Professor George Wolfe, yet he does not dispute that Wolfe's specialty is the saxophone, that he gave antiwar students extra credit for attending a D.C. antiwar rally, nor that his assigned textbook blames the Cuban Missile Crisis on JFK and declares "one person's 'terrorist' is another's 'freedom fighter.'"

Alqurashi called FrontPage a "radical right-wing online magazine." David Horowitz has a 60-year affiliation with the civil rights movement and recently sponsored a Muslim student to study counterterrorism abroad. My own most recent column on this "radical" website suggested Democrats select a moderate party chairman.

Nor do we criticize only "intellectuals who do not embrace radical right-wing ideas." We oppose any classroom indoctrination, from the left or right.

And contrary to what B.J. Paschal writes ("Horowitz History," Dec. 12), tenured radicals, not David Horowitz, "started" the war over campus indoctrination when they transformed their lecture halls into political indoctrination mills. Professors like George Wolfe are further proof Indiana needs the Academic Bill of Rights to restrain their excesses.

Finally, the Star Press's otherwise perfect editorial ("BSU Shouldn't Avoid This Academic Debate," Dec. 8) on the subject stated David Horowitz's "verbal bomb-throwing tends to discredit" his conclusions. Calling a manifestly pro-terror organization "pro-terror" is hardly a rhetorical overreach. In light of the facts detailed above, it should be clear the MSA supports "bomb-throwing" of another kind.

Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPageMag.com and author of the book 57 Varities of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry's Charitable Giving.

This is the original Guest Editorial the Star Press ran on Monday by Ball State MSA President Fahad Alqurashi, which inspired Ben Johnson's response.

Guest column: False claims slander Muslim group at BSU
By FAHAD ALQURASHI

What are the real motives behind some who have accused the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at Ball State University of hating America and supporting terrorism?

Along with unfounded allegations against BSU's George Wolfe and other Ball State professors, Thomas Ryan, in his article, "Recruiting for terror at Ball State," accused the Muslim Student Association (MSA) of being a pro-terrorist organization.. Well, Mr. Ryan, your false claims do not hold water.

Ryan is a regular columnist in Front Page Magazine, a radical right-wing online magazine. His article was published Nov. 8.

It seems that Front Page Magazine's editors and writers are beating the same drum again and again. Throwing the bad stuff on others to make them look bad is no more than a wicked old strategy to hide the truth. Radical conservatives pose extremist ideas that serve nobody but their own political agenda.

MSA was established, as its constitution states, to "serve the best interests of Islam and Muslims in the United States and Canada so as to enable them to practice Islam as a complete way of life." MSA has worked hard to extend an understanding between Muslims and followers of other communities of faith. Activities organized by MSA aim at answering questions about Islam and Muslims, fostering mutual appreciation of religious and cultural norms, and promoting good relationships with other student organizations.

In his article, Thomas Ryan criticized Dr. Wolfe for participating in "Islam in Their Eyes," a panel discussion organized by MSA at Ball State last year. Wolfe and two other speakers talked that night about their positive perceptions on Islam and their good relationships with Muslims. What is wrong in that?

MSA at Ball State, and all MSA chapters across the nation, will continue to cooperate with those who work for the good of America. Appreciating our different religious beliefs is important to create a diverse society that makes the country strong and happy. However, spreading false allegations and pushing distorted images of moderate intellectuals can only increase the fragmentation of society and jeopardize our stability and harmony.

Ball State's MSA organization will participate in "Muncie coming together," a city-wide day of conversation Feb. 26 whose goal is to promote dialogue to build a more inclusive community.

Moreover, MSA will be part of DiverCity 2005: Roots and Heritage, a three-day festival to celebrate the unity and cultural diversity of the people of Muncie.

The rising cacophony of vicious criticism against intellectuals who do not embrace radical right-wing ideas is not based on any objective judgment. Mr. Ryan's hate article is no different from those remarks by other fundamentalists who have slurred everybody who does not agree with them.

Day by day, those narrow-minded extremist conservatives prove their intolerance, fanaticism and ignorance.

Fahad Alqurashi, originally from Saudi Arabia, is a Ph.D. candidate in the linguistics program at Ball State University. He is also president of BSU's Muslim Student Association.

This letter-to-the-editor appeared in the Sunday Star Press, accusing David Horowitz of starting the intellectual freedom battle.

Letter: Horowitz history
B.J. PASCHAL - Muncie

The Star Press editorial of Dec. 8 titled "BSU shouldn't avoid this academic debate" contained a false premise. The academic debate at BSU was started by "radicals." The debate did not "quickly" attract David Horowitz; he started it with his March 29 ad published in the Daily News (p.9). It was a quarter-page ad from one of Horowitz's groups - Students for Academic Freedom.

This ad was titled "Is your Professor Using the Classroom as a Political Soapbox?" It went on to falsely apply the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure. That is, "If you are not taking a course whose subject is the war in Iraq, your professor should not be making statements about the war in class. Or about George Bush, if the class is not on contemporary American presidents, presidential administration or some similar subject."

The ad also suggested, "If you believe your professor is using the classroom as a political soapbox, please contact us." Both a phone number and e-mail address were provided.

Apparently some BSU students contacted Horowitz's group. One used a wanted poster of a BSU history professor. This technique was recommended on the Web site, but once the student followed through, Horowitz told a Star Press reporter that he "deplored that." Rubbish!

The Daily News continues to print Horowitz's ads (Dec. 6, a quarter page on p. 6), but the Purdue student newspaper has refused them.

Finally, I think Ball State should publicly respond to Horowitz's Students for Academic Freedom charges. I also think BSU should respond to charges made by students via the SAF network.

That includes, first of all, a meeting with the complaining students, regardless of whether the student has filed a proper complaint according to BSU's rules, etc. That is petty! More talk is better than less, especially in the public opinion arena.

This is the Star Press editorial from last Wednesday, which is generally supportive but condemns David Horowitz's rhetoric. We believe David's rhetoric is more than justified in the case of the MSA and radicals like Professor George Wolfe.

Editorial: BSU shouldn't avoid this academic debate
Debates conducted on ideological fringes and indulging extremes of language and tactics are highly dangerous. They attract radicals and they propel institutions - such as legislatures - on corrective courses capable of one-sided and serious damage.

An example is the continuing debate involving alleged liberal bias by some professors at Ball State University and whether students are being indoctrinated by leftist instruction and textbooks.

The fray began several months ago when conservative Ball State students Brett Mock and Amanda Carpenter began campaigning on a website against certain BSU professors they said were polluting their classrooms with liberal bias.

The argument was quickly joined by David Horowitz, an author/commentator and founder of Students for Academic Freedom, a national conservative organization that exposes what it believes are politically biased college professors and administrators.

Based as he is hundreds of miles from BSU's campus, Horowitz has minimal direct knowledge of local instruction; also, his verbal bomb-throwing tends to discredit what otherwise is a valid topic for objective study:

Do, indeed, some BSU professors hide behind a shield of academic freedom to deliberately indoctrinate their students, not with facts and knowledge or even legitimate questions about the status quo, but with attitudes and opinions that exclude other views?

That is the question that Ball State administrators should be focusing on, but instead have merely dismissed by either knee-jerk denials or expressed contempt for Horowitz and his tactics.

For instance, an "official" investigation of Brett Mock's complaint involved talking to the professor in question, perhaps interviewing others familiar with his classroom work, reviewing the class textbook, but not speaking with Mock.

Instead, Ball State's explanation put the blame on Mock, for filing his complaint with Horowitz's group and not taking it through "official" BSU channels. Ball State's reaction amounts to bureaucratic exclusion and indicates, to those interested only in learning the truth, that the university's mind is made up.

A Star Press reporter pursuing official reaction about the bias charges was referred to a university media spokesman who threw a few verbal stones at Horowitz's group and proclaimed that all was well at good old BSU.

What should have happened, at some point, was an explanation from someone at Ball State - for instance, President Jo Ann Gora - that the university was actually concerned about at least the potential of ideological abuse. Academic freedom must protect classroom rights to explore ideas and views, and it's certainly not out of line for a university to articulate content-neutral expectations for objectivity and balance by professors.

Such a reaction might have headed off Horowitz, who said that Ball State's lack of serious interest in the subject further validates his plan to convince the Indiana Legislature that Hoosier universities are ripe for a state-imposed academic bill of rights.

A response by Ball State that it is at least interested in the wider issues of academic freedom - however clumsily raised by Mock and Horowitz - would also have reassured those who assume (we believe unfairly) that BSU has been victimized by the same liberal political correctness that has engulfed many American universities.

Several sources, including The New York Times, have reported on a new national survey of more than 1,000 academics showing that Democratic professors outnumber Republicans by at least 7 to 1 in the humanities and social studies. At Berkeley and Stanford, according to a separate study that included engineering and science professors, the ratio of Democrats to Republicans was even greater: 9 to 1.

This doesn't prove that Ball State is similarly afflicted, but the local university is not doing much serious work to convince doubters to the contrary.
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Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and author of the book 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry's Charitable Giving.