I just came across this and found it somewhat interesting. Actually, it probably isn’t news to anyone who is a current student at George Mason University — particularly PolySci or GVIP students. It seems that the wife of famed Robinson Professor Shaul Bakhash is being held by the Iranian Government on charges that she allegedly spied on behalf of the United States. Apparently she has confessed on Iranian State television to some kind of covert plan to “undermine” the Iranian Government.
Continue Reading: http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/07/18/iran.detainees/index.html?iref=mpstoryview
Now, I am no fan of Prof. Bakhash…but I wouldn’t want anyone to find their family in a similar predicament. As a student of Government I often came across lectures, discussions, or courses held by Prof. Bakhash. BTW, he is actually kinda short when you meet him in person. Anyway, I would occassionally listen to part of his lectures or read one of his scholarly articles. I never took any of his classes though, alhamdulillah. What bothered me about Bakhash was his approach of analysis at affairs not only in Iran…but more importantly in the broader middle east. While I am sure that he is well versed in Middle Eastern & Iranian history (in particular), and is more than capable of important critical analysis, I simply did not like him.
What I found most difficult to stomach was his commentary or analysis of Islam … or at least … Islam as a part of the sociopolitical (and geopolitical) framework of the broader Middle East. I never felt that he was fair with his analysis in that regard and I never took him as a serious Western scholar of the Middle East or of Islam, for that matter. How does one analyze the Middle East, or a specific country in the Middle East, when one hasn’t been there in decades? How do you analyze an entire region if you don’t speak the language, associate with its people, or frequently travel there?
So, at GMU, Prof Bakhash is treated like royalty. After all, he is a Robinson Professor you know?! That essentially means that he can say whatever he feels like about Iran, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, issues related to the broader Middle East, and Islam of course — and get away with it. All the while not being able to speak Arabic, not having been to the region in decades, and not being Muslim. I guess that probably doesn’t matter to GMU and most other universities. As we all know…people of Jewish ancestry/hertitage should never even be questioned for their (perceived) biases in teaching such courses. However, Muslims — most emphatically — should.
Here is one class that Prof. Bakhash teaches. I can’t help but think of it as a joke. Ever heard of “Political Judaism 290” or “Political Christianity 300”? Yep. I didn’t think so. To be quite honest courses like “Political Islam” are a complete waste of time on so many levels. Their design seems to do more with enrollment numbers — rather than the actual promotion of learning and dialogue…
HNRS 240: Reading the Past: Political Islam.
The destruction of the twin towers at the World Trade Center in New York on 9/11, the U. S. government’s “war on terror,” and America’s war in Iraq have focused considerable attention on the Islamic world and on what is often termed “political Islam” or “Islamic radicalism.” This course is designed to help students place these developments in an historical context. It examines the relationship of politics and religion in the Islamic world in the past, competing interpretations of politics in the Islamic world today, the organization and various uses of terror for political purposes, intellectual and political attempts at democratic reform in the Islamic world, and the different ways in which Western scholars and commentators have defined and understood “political Islam.” (TR 3:00-4:15 p.m.)