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Page for Page, This Is the Most Malignant Product
That I've Seen During All My Years as a Reviewer
William J. Bennetta
A Simulation of Islamic History and Culture, 610-1100
1991. ISBN: 1-57336-074-0. Interaction Publishers, Inc. (DBA
"Interact"),5937 Darwin Court, Suite 106, Carlsbad, California 92008.
ISLAM: A Simulation of Islamic History and Culture, 610-1100
is produced and distributed by Interaction Publishers, of Carlsbad,
California. This company, which does business under the name
"Interact" (and refers to itself by that name), promotes ISLAM: A
Simulation as a curriculum manual for use by history teachers in
grades 6 through 12. ISLAM: A Simulation consists of lesson
plans and handouts for a three-week program of classroom instruction
in which students "will simulate becoming Muslims" and allegedly "will
learn about the history and culture of Islam." The lesson plans and
handouts occupy 114 printed pages, contained in a loose-leaf binder.
ISLAM: A Simulation has no educational purpose, and it can
serve no educational function. From beginning to end, it is nothing
but a Muslim religious publication, produced by writers who seek to
exploit classroom teachers for propagating Islam.
From beginning to end, ISLAM: A Simulation directs teachers
to deceive their students and to boost Islam by disseminating lies and
by falsifying history. From beginning to end, ISLAM: A Simulation
requires teachers to indoctrinate their students by feeding them
servings of "information" in which historical facts are insidiously
intermixed with Muslim myths and Muslim woo-woo. From beginning to
end, ISLAM: A Simulation directs teachers to present facts,
myths and woo-woo as equivalent, equipotent items. From beginning to
end, ISLAM: A Simulation requires teachers and students alike
to abandon rationality, to shun analytical thinking, and to embrace
the view that any claim about anything -- no matter how fatuous the
claim may be -- must be accepted as true.
These are the defining properties of ISLAM: A Simulation,
and I shall analyze them, later, in some detail. First, however, I
must devote a few paragraphs to a lesser but significant feature of
Interact's document: It is so heavily loaded with anachronisms that it
has no sense of time.
An Antihistorical Mishmash
Most of ISLAM: A Simulation is built around a religious
farce in which students, directed by their teacher, pretend to be
Muslims who are living during the time of Muhammad (i.e., early in the
7th century). The students adopt "Islamic" names, don "Islamic"
clothing, and form six teams representing the "early Islamic cities"
of Cairo, Jerusalem, Medina, Damascus, Baghdad and Cordova. Then each
team acquires an imaginary caravan of camels, and the six teams engage
in a caravan-race from Cordova to Mecca. The race fills five days of
class time, and each team's progress on each day depends upon the
team's success in collecting and reciting "information" about Islam. A
note to the teacher says, "Clearly, this race intensifies the rivalry
[among teams] and will probably heighten enthusiasm at the same time."
Enthusiasm for what? Enthusiasm for seeing camels drown as they try
to walk across the Strait of Gibraltar? Enthusiasm for believing that
Cordova was an Islamic city in the early years of the 7th century,
even though the Muslim invasion of the Iberian Peninsula didn't begin
until the second decade of the 8th century?
The mislabeling of 7th-century Codova as an Islamic city is but one
of a multitude of anachronisms found in ISLAM: A Simulation.
During the caravan-race, students who supposedly are driving camels
through the 7th century receive bulletins such as "While in Damascus,
you are inspired by the Great Mosque" and "While in Damascus you are
attacked by Christian crusaders" -- but the mosque at Damascus wasn't
built until the 8th century, and the crusades didn't begin until the
closing years of the 11th. The caravanners also learn factoids such as
"Of the former Soviet Union's 15 republics, six have primarily Muslim
populations" and "Arabic music has influenced famous composers, such
as Bartok and Stravinsky" -- but those statements wouldn't have made
any sense at all, to anyone, in the 7th century. When the students
make "Muslim food," they use recipes that call for peanuts and
tomatoes -- but the peanut and the tomato, which originated in the New
World, were not seen in the Old World till the 1500s. And so on, and
I don't want to belabor this matter, but I do want you to know that
ISLAM: A Simulation, which purports to enable teachers to
inform their students about "history," is ahistorical and indeed
antihistorical. It is an antihistorical mishmash, hastily assembled to
serve as a platform for religious indoctrination. Now I'll show you
how this indoctrination is supposed to work.
( 1 )
William J. Bennetta is a professional editor, a fellow of the
California Academy of Sciences, the president of The Textbook League,
and the editor of The Textbook Letter. He writes often about
the propagation of quackery, false "science" and false "history" in
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