The Spine

Shocked, Positively Shocked

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The provost of University College, London, where Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab studied for three years, said that he was "completely shocked" by the news of what the Christmas terrorist had tried to do. Really?

I've just received an e-mail from an old Harvard colleague, whose accomplishments include seeing social and intellectual trends in the world--the Muslim world, especially--that many of his fellow academics blithely deny.

Here is his New Year’s morning correspondence:

The nightmare of university administrators for years has been being called a racist or more recently an 'Islamophobe.' After the Detroit close call, they have another nightmare to worry about. It is that one of their students, perhaps a major in Middle East studies, or working on Islam, or a member of a Muslim Students Association organization on campus will join the global jihad, wind up in an article like the one in this morning's Washington Post. The Provost of University College, London made a fool of himself by actually saying in print that he was 'shocked' that Abdulutallab had been a student there. [It is ranked as one of the top universities in the world]. Tens of millions of dollars have been pouring in to Middle East studies and the study of Islam in America, and Muslim Student Organizations exist all over the place. No one has a right to be shocked by anything anymore.

At the end of his missive, he calls my attention to an article, datelined London, by Karla Adam in today's Washington Post. The headline: "British universities sometimes seen as breeding grounds for radical Islam."

Exaggerated? Anthony Glees, professor of security and intelligence studies at the University of Buckingham, pointed out to Adam that Abdulmutallab "is the fourth president of a university Islamic society to be linked to terrorism-related offenses in recent years." Shocked?

And, so, what about America, which is my colleague's point?

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