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Outrage erupts over terrorism class with section on Islamic terror

‘An American exceptionalism perspective to advance a zionist, orientalist, and/or neocolonialist agenda …’ 

This month, University of Wisconsin Madison students enrolled in a political science class focused on terrorism will study acts perpetrated by radicals in the name of Islam.

Lectures slated for October include topics such as “Islam and the West,” “The origins of Jihad,” “Al Qaida,” “9/11,” “The Islamic State” and “Jihad in Africa,” according to a syllabus screenshot.

But one Muslim student, who is also a campus leader and activist, was briefly enrolled in the class. And after the very first day, student Ali Khan took to social media to express outrage over the content of “Political Science 347: Terrorism” and the way the professor approached the subject.

Khan’s complaint prompted a campuswide conversation on alleged culturally insensitive classes. He also published the professor’s contact information, asking peers to take stand.

Khan, in his Facebook post, accused the scholar of approaching the topic of terror only from “an American exceptionalism perspective to advance a zionist, orientalist, and/or neocolonialist agenda.” Khan, who described himself as “livid” over the course, also denounced its Jihad section.

“You cannot define terrorism singularly by the actions of terrorist groups or non-state actors without including state-sponsored terrorism,” he said.

“There’s a whole module titled ‘Jihad.’ This legitimizes a perception that the concept of Jihad is one-dimensional, single-faceted, and inherently violent and connected to terrorism,” he added. “Will we be discussing the different types of jihad (by the heart, tongue, and hand)? Is the professor an Islamic scholar who can accurately speak about jihad?”

The professor, Andrew Kydd, is a white male.

Khan ended his post by publishing the professor’s name and email address, and told his peers “for all those who ally with the Muslim and/or Student of Color community, this is your chance. For us, constantly debating with professors, stepping up to always teach others, and simply being present around this type of rhetoric, is emotionally taxing. This is where you come in. Do the work and educate your peers.”

Khan’s post spread throughout the campus community, prompting praise, “outcry,” promises of action, and several articles in campus newspapers at UW Madison.

Khan did not respond to requests from The College Fix for comment. Kydd also did not respond to requests from The College Fix seeking comment.

Khan has dropped the class but has also met with Kydd and plans to provide the professor with “alternative academic readings to broaden the scope of the class,” the Badger Herald campus newspaper reports, adding Khan also plans to lobby administrators to require a cultural competency review of liberal arts courses.

According to The Daily Cardinal, Khan said that his previous political science courses had presented the material in a better way, stating that “professors terminology and the way they bring up concepts does matter.”

Khan has served as an outreach and partnerships intern for the Division of Student Life under the Multicultural Student Center, whose primary mission is to “collaboratively strengthen and sustain an inclusive campus where all students, particularly students of color and other historically underserved students, can realize an authentic Wisconsin Experience.” He also serves as a member of the Our Wisconsin All-student Inclusion Program, where the focus is to “build community among our diverse campus.”

As for the terrorism course, its online description states it “will introduce the student to the subject of terrorism.”

“The course will cover the causes of terrorism, the goals and strategies pursued by terrorist groups, the extent to which terrorism succeeds in achieving its goals, the potential for terrorism with weapons of mass destruction, counterterrorism and counterinsurgency, and the normative debate about torture in the context of terrorism,” it states.

Other topics listed on its syllabus include the history of terrorism, which delves into the KKK, nationalist terrorism and communism and fascism. A module on tactics includes lectures on suicide terrorism, game theory and weapons of mass destruction. Other topics will include drones, regime changes, the costs of terrorism and torture.

MORE: Professor says ‘American intervention is the primary CAUSE of terrorism’

MORE: College deems students’ 9/11 ‘Never Forget’ posters bias incident

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About the Author
Rita Francesca is an undergraduate senior at Binghamton University in New York. She is working toward a major in political science with a minor in human rights. She is involved with a variety of organizations on campus and hopes to become an international attorney.

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