It isn’t easy for me to come to any firm conclusions about my Muslim students and what my experiences taught me about the intentions and fitness for American civil life of some indeterminate number of them.
I might begin with the fact that my paternal great-grandmother was married in a mosque somewhere in Uzbekistan. The small group of Mennonites of which she and her betrothed were members were residents, for a time, in a Muslim community, which, in a spirit of kindness, allowed these strangers to use their sacred space at their sacred time. Saturdays, the Muslims held services but Sundays, they allowed Great-grandmother and her group to hold their own. It was late in life that I learned that in the waning centuries of the first millennium, Muslims and Christians got along very well. (See. Philip Jenkins, The Lost History of Christianity.) Surprising, because I had been taught that Islam had been spread by the sword, and by the sword alone. And that I had been taught that Western Christianity had been the conduit through which the glories of the ancient world reached the modern world. As if Thomas Aquinas and his Christian predecessors, not the Islamic Ummah, had been the cultural heroes in the transmission of Aristotle’s teachings to us today. No. Western Europe was, in the so-called medieval period, a relative cultural backwater.
But somewhere along the line, both Christianity and Islam gave birth to bad actors. Christianity came forth with devices to deal with heretics and to take Jerusalem from Islam, and later, Islam allowed some within its folds to terrorize the infidels.
There is enough blame to go around and for Christopher Hitchens, now with god, to rail against.
One question is this: Was Wichita State University an exception among American higher education?
Here are the facts as I see them. If Mohammed Atta might have used my university’s lenient policies to get a student visa, Evad Ismoil certainly did. This might be construed as showing that WSU allowed itself, unwittingly, to become a magnet for potential terrorists. Aha! you might say; Didn’t the FBI conclude that this wasn’t the case? But according to the common understanding, in the days after 9/11, the American intelligence community was benighted where terrorism was concerned and has only in more recent times become the vigilant watchdog it should always have been. (See former Director of the National Security Agency Michael V. Hayden, Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror, 2016.)
It might seem, then, that WSU was something of an outlier where the Muslim population of students was concerned. But what should I do with the fact that my sources tell me that other professors in other universities have had some of the same problems I confronted with my Islamic students?
So I have a hard time believing that at least some of my experiences were out of the ordinary.
I conclude that, unless solid evidence and precise reasoning comes my way, there should be a solid vetting of immigrants from Muslim countries, though I must admit that I don’t know, and cannot know, if that vetting is already in place. Only the intelligence community knows, or should know. Or, maybe that community and the current regime, including a few Congressional committees and an apparently hapless president.
And I can't help suspecting that the mainstream media’s love affair with all things Muslim is deceitful, if not just plain naïve. And the left, either through political cunning or unbridled sentimentality, is equally at fault.