By Gary Fouse
"You are hereby placed on detention." When I was a small kid growing up in the 1950s (and television was a novel thing), one of my favotite movies was "Tom Brown's Schooldays", a film about a young British schoolboy and his adventures at Rugby School. The movie (there were two or three made over the years)was an adaptation of an 1857 novel. I guess the biggest reason I liked the movie was its stirring theme music.I was reminded of Master Tom recently while browsing through the British blog, Lionheart. The editor of Lionheart has often run afoul of British authorities due to his unrelenting reporting on the outrages of many of Britain's Muslims. One of his latest reports concerns the recent outrage at a school near the English town of Stoke-on-Trent. (Stoke-on-Trent happens to be a "Partner City" of the German town of Erlangen, where I spent my Army time and which is the subject of one of my books.)But I digress. Just recently, two boys were punished for refusing to take part in prayers at Alsager High School. Not Christian prayers, mind you, but Islamic prayers to Allah. As part of a class on religion, the class was told to put on Islamic headgear, kneel down on prayer rugs, and go through the Muslim prayer ritual. As punishment, the two boys got detention, and the rest of the class missed their refreshment break. Predictably, many of the children's parents reacted with anger that their children were forced to take part in prayer rituals of a faith they do not practice-and that two boys received punishment for refusing.
Master Tom Brown faced a lot of predicaments at Rugby School, but never had to experience this! I wonder what else the good headmaster and staff at Alsager High had planned for the children. Perhaps they could have taken them on a field trip to one of the more radical mosques and listened to the imam condemn British society. Or maybe attend one of those exciting demonstrations where folks hold banners demanding the murder, butchering or decapitation of those that insult Islam. I know some good film clips circulating on the Internet showing the stoning to death of women in Iran for the "capital crime" of adultery. That would wake the little rascals up, wouldn't it? As Lionheart correctly points out, this is just another example of the UK submitting to a very vocal, threatening, and, at times, violent element in its society. As many others point out, there is nothing wrong with teaching comparative religions in public schools. There is something wrong in pushing a particular religion down the throats of unwilling children and their families.
It is undeniable that given what is going on the world today, many in the educational establishment are desperate to provide a positive image of Islam in the spirit of mutual understanding. It is happening not only in the UK and Europe, but here in the US as well. It is being carried to such extremes that it is engaging in mistruths. Any scholarly discussion of Islam has to include current events. Islam is at a crucial crossroads in its history, and I don't think any of us know which faction within the religion will win out. If educators are trying to present only a positive image of Islam to schoolchildren while ignring present-day realities, then they are doing everyone a disservice-including decent, peace-loving Muslims who dare to speak out. Unfortunately, the problem is not just within the field of education in the UK.
Maybe, if the modern-day Tom Browns eventually decide to enter the field of law, they might follow in the footsteps of Britain's top judge, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, who recently opined that the Kingdom should accept Shariah law-presumably to allow Muslims to settle their civil affairs independent of national laws. And if Master Tom's successors decide to turn to a career in the clergy, they could do no better than emulate Rowan Williams-the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has echoed Lord Phillips' surrender call to Sharia. It is easy to decry the decline of Great Britain and ask, "What would Winston Churchill say?" But here in the US, we are also yielding step by step. Many of our universities are not only silent, but complicent in providing forums for young radical Muslim students to spout hatred not only against Israel, but Jews and America as well. My own university (the University of California at Irvine), is one of the worst in this regard.
What is so unsettling about Britain is that we in the US seem to be heading in the same direction, albeit a little more slowly. So, at the risk of repeating what is becoming a tired old adage:What would Winston Churchill say? Come to think of it, what would Tom Brown say? And while we're on the subject, what the hell would Benny Hill say?
A note from Radarsite: Sometimes it seems as though we are in a dream, helplessly witnessing an horrific accident taking place in slow motion. But we awaken and the terrible dream continues. Are we really this helpless? Are we really doomed to self-destruct? I truly wish that this was just fanciful literary hyperbole. But is it? - rg