Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Charles Kurzman: Where are all the Islamic terrorists?

... In the fields of Middle East and Islamic studies, bad news is good for business. The more that non-Muslims fear Islam, the more security threats are hyped, the more attention my colleagues and I get. Journalists want insights from "Islam experts" and "Middle East specialists," regardless of how remote our area of research is from the day's news. Universities are hiring—there were more than 40 tenure-track jobs last year in Middle East and Islamic studies. Federal research grants are plentiful, especially from the military and the Department of Homeland Security.

It all points to an inescapable conclusion: Martin Kramer was right. A decade ago, just after 9/11, he accused scholars of profiting from the Islamist violence that their political correctness prevented them from taking seriously: "How many resources within the university could they command if their phones stopped ringing and their deans did not see and hear them quoted in the national newspapers and on public radio? And how would enrollments hold up if Muslim movements failed to hit the headlines?"

Read it all at the Chronicle.