Do I have to eat my words?

By: American Decency Staff

As I reported my intention yesterday, I attended a “Teach-In” at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan on the subject of:  ISIS, Terrorism & Refugees.

TV coverage: WZZM, TV-13, ABC affiliate

I stated yesterday,“Keep in mind this is Calvin College, as with many Christian colleges of the past, which was once a strong-hold of the orthodox Christian faith.  Like so many, though, Calvin has drifted leftward. 

So though the topic is compelling, it made Christians like me a bit nervous to say the least."

The event featured several Calvin faculty members, but no outside experts on national security:

Bert de Vries (History & Archaeology): The Refugee Crisis in the Middle East
Doug Howard (History): ISIS and Regional Politics
Jason VanHorn (Geography): Mapping Terrorism
Frans van Liere (History & Medieval Studies): Is Islam a Violent Religion?

I also stated,"Perhaps, I will have to eat my words.  If that is the case, I will humbly apologize at my earliest opportunity using this very forum."

 So to one of the first points of concern – do I have to eat my words? 

 Unfortunately, things were even worse than I surmised.  The answer is no.

 Here are a few quick details: 

 Location:  Calvin Chapel
Attendance:  150-200 max
Age range:  Primarily college-aged and a smattering of individuals aged 50- 70ish.
Presenters: Five Calvin College PhD professors named above.

The presenters were to give brief presentations of 15 minutes though most, if not all, ran over.  There was a brief “Q&A” after each speaker (one or two questions for most of the speakers). Presenter messages ran for a little under two hours and the panel discussion consisting of the five speakers went about 45 minutes. 

It was a comfortable setting.  The audience was respectful.  It was a timely topic that had the potential of dealing with topics of great import and societal impact especially considering the tragic news coming out of San Bernadino, California in regard to the terrorist attack which took 14 lives with 21 seriously injured. 

However, consistent with the entire tone of the “Teach-In”, this terrorist attack was never brought up by any of the professors or discussed except in passing by one of the questioners – yours truly.

In a 150 minute time frame, there was no mention of border control,  vetting of refugees, illegal immigration,  Civilization Jihad, Taqiyya, Sharia, the caliphate, honor killing, etc.

The presenters were generally cut of the same cloth, moderate to liberal academicians.

The speakers presented as erudite (learned, scholarly, knowledgeable within their narrow professorial perspective).  Each relied heavily upon the reading of their notes.  Presentations were stilted and weighted to the left except, perhaps, for Professor Jason Van Horn. 

I will share observations from just a couple of the presenters.

Bert de Vries:  The philosophy/worldview communicated by Professor de Vries could be best encapsulated by an emotional slide show that he had created for his students from a visit to the Syria.  It featured pictures of a young girl in her homeland with descriptions of her life difficult life, accompanied by a music bed meant to touch the heart strings. That slideshow was his strongest pro-refugee argument – no discussion regarding vetting, cautions, issues surrounding potential dangers at all. 

It was apparent that de Vries, along with most of the other presenters, was strongly skewed toward a pro-refugee program.  The general tone of the speakers was opposing a lack of compassion towards Syrian refugees. 

The final presenter, Frans Van Liere was also the moderator.  “The title of his presentation was what I anticipated would be a rhetorical question, “Is Islam a Violent Religion?”  Professor Van Liere stated right from the top that he wasn’t a Koranic scholar, knew no Arabic and was not a specialist on the subject of Islam. What he had to share, he said, were personal observations and also his interactions with students on the subject. 

Quoting Professor Van Liere:

You cannot just compare violent episodes in the history of Islam with peaceful periods in the history of Christianity. That makes about as much sense as  taking Jihadi John as a representative of Islam and Mother Teresa as the representative of Christianity. It’s no comparison. Yet, this rhetorical technique is often applied by Christians in the discussion about Islam and violence.  All the places where the Bible preaches peace then are juxtaposed to all the places where the Koran seems to condone violence. That will simply not do. ‘Because you can just find lots of places where the Bible condones violence and where the Koran preaches peace. This kind of proof texting only proves that both religions have their origins in ancient culture where warfare and feuding were endemic.

Why do we not hear more Muslims protest against terrorism? 

 Well the better question might be “What are we to say when some people say they were eye witness they swear to events that clearly did not take place because there really were no Muslim crowds in the street of Jersey City celebrating the fall of the Twin Towers after 911. Yet the myth is persistent.  Why? Well, it is what we call made up history.  Editor’s note: The professor is inaccurate on this point as the celebrating by Muslims at the fall of the Twin Towers after 911 has been documented here.    It may say more about present day Islamophobia than about Muslims.  In fact we do hear Muslims protest against terrorism loudly and clearly.  In the first place, there are millions of Muslims protesting terrorism with their feet.  We call them refugees. (loud applause.)

 One female questioner from the audience was given the opportunity to ask the last question of the evening which left the panel stumbling for an answer and debunked the academic tone of the evening. 

"So, my heart is with the Christian communities in the Middle East and North Africa who have been decimated with a concerted, intentional systematic effort to religiously cleanse Christians in the Middle East whether it’s  from Boka Haram in Nigeria and Jajui in Sudan. But I hear, unless I’m not listening fully –  an apologist for this Islamic wave of mass murder which has touched every continent and nearly every common country. My question is, Christians who live as neighbors with their Muslim friends and neighbors in these countries in the Middle East with identical living circumstances, under the same weather/agricultural circumstances, and political and economic situations – do not engage in systematic campaigns of terror.  What’s the difference?"

Final points (though I wished I had more time to break this out more specifically as my concerns are great for this college that was once known for its Christian stance.)

At several junctures, I raised concerns (more than once) that the teach-in was so heavily one sided in perspective making it dangerous for the young college students who were being slowly but surely indoctrinated to see the Koran as non-violent, on the same level as the Bible.  The Bible, of course,  teaches –  love your neighbor as you love yourselves.  To love your enemy.  Whereas the Koran implicitly teaches the Muslim to kill the infidel.  (the infidel being the Christian, the Jew, the unbeliever.)   A huge difference, yet this clear difference was never even remotely touched upon.

These young unsuspecting college students were hearing presentations that as the questioner above stated, served as an apologist for the Islamic wave seen around the world.

Other concerning points were that Turkey was described by Professor Doug Howard as a Democratic Republic.  I countered during the limited time that  I had by stating that Turkey under President Recep Erdogan has become Islamized under Erdogan’s leadership.   This I stated is concerning as President Obama has referred to Erdogan as his best friend in the Mid-East and his mentor.   This is particularly concerning recognizing how this Islamization process has been wrought – through controlling the media, the courts, the police.  

In closing, I did take a few moments after the event to go directly up to speak with the man behind the event:  Professor Frans van Liere.   I apologized to him for my several bold interruptions but once again made it clear that it was so frustrating to have young people be under one-sided teaching that was inaccurate.  I told him it was dangerous and damaging.   I stated that as a graduate of Michigan State University and the Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary and a former teacher in the public school that I expected a balanced, more fair-minded approach to educating the vulnerable young people.

He in a sense apologized saying that he put the whole teach-in together in 10 days.  I answered that what’s done is done.  I’m urging him that in the future that he not make the same very serious mistake. 

Action point:  

It is important that leadership and shapers of young minds hear from you regarding the

Express your concern to the President of Calvin College and to several of the professors by clicking here.

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