Islamic history month?

Well, they’ve already added Ramadan to the list of official holidays to be commemorated at an Illinois school, and over the objections of parents at that. Schools are banning Halloween and calling Christmas “Winter Festival.” Two Canadian cities have added “Islamic history month” to their calendars at the behest of an Islamic grievance group similar to CAIR.

The Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) has been bombarding journalists and local politicians with press releases urging that October be proclaimed “Islamic History Month.” The cities of Victoria and Kingston have duly complied, in the same crowd-pleasing spirit that has inspired the U.S. Congress to proclaim the last week in May “National Pickle Week.”

As organizations go, the Canadian Islamic Congress is at once ludicrous and worrisome. When it is not trying to silence journalists, it is condoning militant Islamists. But just as a stopped clock is right twice a day, this time the CIC has got hold of an interesting idea.

That’s the admirable David Frum writing, and he goes on to put a twist on the idea that sounds good.

We in the West do need better understanding of Islamic history and culture. For almost three-quarters of a millennium, from the early 700s until the middle 1400s, the Muslim Middle East excelled Christian Europe in science, technology and culture. Famines and plagues occurred less often in the Middle East than in Europe; and writers and thinkers enjoyed greater liberty.

After the Middle East fell into relative decline, Islam spread through Africa and Asia largely by peaceful conversion, because it offered people a more consoling and convincing belief system than they had known before.

The joyless, obscurantist, intolerant, authoritarian and often violent Islam in the ascendant today is not Islam’s only form. Islam has been other, better, things in the past. Wider understanding of Islam’s progressive past may help to create a more progressive future. When you reach a dead end, the best thing to do is retrace your steps, and return to the point at which you made your wrong turn.

If that’s what is meant by the study of Islamic history, yes, let’s have a month of it.

And I would be on board myself, if that’s what Islamic history month amounted to.

But we all know that that’s not how Islamic history month will work out. Our politicians lack the backbone to make it work like that, even if it started out with that intent. A lot of stuff would creep in, and a lot of stuff would get tossed out.

In: Tales of Mohammed’s magnanimity.
Out: Tales of Mohammed’s warlording ways.

In: Fallacious tales equating Christianity and Islam.
Out: Any real discussion of the actual differences between the two founders and the faiths they promoted.

In: Discussions of various suras stipulating that there is no compulsion in Islam.
Out: The Ten Commandments.

In: “Jihad is an inner struggle.”
Out: Tell that to these guys.

In: The Crusades as Christian imperialism.
Out: The Crusades as Islamic imperialism, which is actually what the Crusades were.

In: The conquest of Andalusia.
Out: The Reconquista of Spain.

Etc etc. I’m sure you can come up with a few of your own.

That’s how Islamic history month would go — it would become a month-long celebration without any discussion allowed of the, um, downsides. So I’m going to go out on a limb here and step out against Islamic history month.

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