Why Do We Allow America’s Enemies to Run Schools Here?


By: Warner Todd Huston

With such a headline, you’d be excused for assuming this piece is just another attack on our failing schools, just another screed against the evils of teachers unions, or a whack against the left wing lunatics who run our universities. No, this time the title is no mere hyperbole. This time it says exactly what it means for in the state of Virginia a school is being run by radical Islamists, funded by a foreign nation, and under condemnation from the U.S. government. In this time of war, the State of Virginia really is allowing our enemies to run a school teaching Islamist hate to our children right in our midst.

A private Islamic school funded by the Saudi government is being accused by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom of teaching Wahhabi Islamism to 1,000 K-12 children in Fairfax County, Virginia. Wahhabism is the strict and hateful brand of Islam that buttresses the twisted ideas of people like Usama bin Laden and his al Qaeda organization and the Taliban extremists in Afghanistan and it is guiding the daily class work of some of Virginia’s children.

The Commission reports that the curriculum at the Islamic Saudi Academy reflects the religious intolerance taught at schools in Saudi Arabia where intolerance and bigotry against Jews and Christians is the norm. In part, the Commission’s report states that, “significant concerns remain about whether what is being taught at the ISA promotes religious intolerance and may adversely affect the interests of the United States.”

Naturally the school and it’s minders in the Saudi embassy profess shock and dismay that they’d be questioned about their efforts to teach their own brand of “truth” to American children. But, it isn’t just extreme Islamism that the school is faulted for. The Commission also warned that the close operational ties and funding scheme between the school, the Saudi embassy and the government of Saudi Arabia may violate U.S. law restricting the activities of foreign embassies.

This school was in the news once before, too. After the Sept. 11th attacks by radical Islamists, a former valedictorian of the school, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, was convicted of, and is now serving a 30-year prison sentence for, plotting the assassination of president H. W. Bush in 2005. Ali became an al Qaeda member while attending college in Saudi Arabia after graduation from the school in Virginia.

So, why do we do this? Why do we so blithely ignore the simple logic of keeping our enemies at arms length? Why are we so stupid as to allow the enemy to set up schools right in our midst?

I asked this question of a history teacher just the other day and he remarked that our free society should actually prohibit any efforts to keep the enemy out. And besides, he said, we allowed a Nazi party to be created right here in our midst in New York during WWII by allowing the American Bund, an American Nazi organization, to operate freely.

But, my history-teaching friend is mistaken in his belief that the Roosevelt Administration so easily allowed the Bund to operate without impediment in some self-flagellating exercise in “free speech” during a time of war. In fact, both the state of New York and the Roosevelt administration dogged members of the Bund and eventually interred and deported many of its members.

In 1939, for instance, the New York District Attorney began investigating Bund leader Fritz Kuhn for tax evasion and embezzlement efforts that eventually drove him from his post in the Nazi organization. Additionally, the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities (HUAC) also went after various members of the Bund and did their level best to hamper the groups activities. And as America entered World War II, the Roosevelt administration placed many of the Bund’s members and their families in interment camps for Germans and Italians* with many of these folks being deported to Germany at the close of the war.

So, contrary to what my history teacher friend thought, neither the U.S. government nor the State of New York sat idly by as our enemies created organizations that promoted ideas antithetical to the American way.

So that brings me back to the question at hand: Why are we allowing these so-called schools to set up shop right in our midst and why are we allowing them to teach hate and radical ideologies contrary to freedom, liberty and the American way?

Have we become stupid since 1939, or are we simply trying to destroy ourselves?

*Few people are aware that Roosevelt also interred Germans and Italians in camps just like he did with Japanese Americans. In fact, they were arguably treated worse than the Japanese for many of the Germans and Italians were not freed right after the war, but were kept for many, many months after the war ended. Then many were deported and not allowed to regain their American citizenship once their camps were dismantled.

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