While Rice was indeed a child prodigy on the piano, her intellectual prowess was not quite so grand as to land her an Ivy League teaching position as an adolescent. Born in 1954, she was only 14 years old when Bush graduated from Yale in 1968.
A “sponsored university associate” at the Saudi-established Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU), Shipoli continued his error-ridden ways in his discussion of his 2018 book, Islam, Securitization and U.S. Foreign Policy.
Originally from Kosovo, Shipoli is a self-proclaimed “social entrepreneur” who “has established numerous international organizations to advance dialogue, leadership and youth development,” which include the Federation of Balkan American Associates.
Rather than correct his own mistakes, however, Shipoli recalled how, when he first came to America in 2009-2010, “too much misinformation … about Islam, about Muslims” had “perplexed” him. As statements on his PowerPoint slideshow indicated, he sought to counter this supposed ignorance through an analysis of how “securitization” of Islam “prioritizes the issue” as “above politics.” This, he claimed, turned the issue into an “existential issue that shall be immediately dealt with.”
Shipoli’s evaluation of American presidents all the way back to Bill Clinton found that they committed Shipoli’s distinct sin of perceiving security threats in Islamic doctrine. One slide indicated that, because Clinton “did not ask Muslims to change Islam and choose between good and bad Muslims/Islam,” nothing in contemporary Islam requires reform. Clinton also “was not a crusader for democracy,” Shipoli’s slide stated with approval, even through numerous critics have chastised Clinton for his Wilsonian motives in such places as Haiti and the Balkans.
Then came the “W. Bush administration,” another flawed Shipoli slide noted. “Going out of 40 years of Cold War,” it read, “most of the Bush administration was either a Cold War administrator or Cold War-Soviet Union expert.” As a result, “When the Cold War finished, they couldn’t just say there is a new reality so let’s forget whatever we know,” which created “a need for an ‘other’” and a “big opponent.” Yet Bush campaigned in the 2000 election on domestic issues like tax cuts and education, not national security, which became a priority after 9/11 transformed him into a wartime president.
Although Bush declared that “Islam is peace,” Shipoli’s slides censured him for “demonizing Muslims and Arabs as public enemy number one.” In one typo-ridden slide, Shipoli singled out former Vice President Dick Cheney for opprobrium because he “rreferred [sic] to Islamic Fascism,” as if this were a shocking analogy. Despite decades-long efforts to destroy Israel and a recent Islamic State genocide of Christians, Shipoli used another slide to express shock at Bush’s suggestion that jihadists “want Christians and Jews killed and out of the Middle East.”
Another amateurish historical gaffe appeared in a slide on the Taliban’s loss of Kandahar in the 2001 American-led invasion of Afghanistan. This “was seen as a historical moment for Bush,” Shipoli wrote, as it took place on “exactly the 60th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, December 5th.” Little work (or knowledge) is needed to know that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed “December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy.”
Barack Obama fared better in Shipoli’s slides, because he “denied that women are oppressed” in Islam, as if this claim were a truism. Yet Shipoli criticized Obama because he did not act on a supposed “responsibility to protect” during Egypt’s 2013 “coup against an elected government.” Just how the U.S. would protect, much less justify, the Muslim Brotherhood regime the Egyptian military overthrew went unexplained.
“The securitization of Islam didn’t make America safer,” Shipoli claimed, based on misleading statistics that stated that under Bush “terrorist attacks against US interests” went from “124 in 2002” to “175 in 2003.” Shipoli never considered whether jihadist attacks might have increased even more without American countermeasures.
“People that have securitized Islam,” he also stated, “have never read Islamic texts about jihad” or “take the texts out of context” for “propaganda” purposes, an assessment that would surprise many devout jihadists.
By contrast, Shipoli fantasized that the Biden administration’s “approach towards Iran is an approach of what allies can do together.” This is “better than doing it alone,” he asserted, which overlooks that “allies” like Russia are mediating Biden’s disastrous nuclear negotiations with Iran.
ACMCU founder and moderator of the webinar John Esposito was no more enlightening in his brief comments, in which he whitewashed aggressive Islamic imperialist doctrines like jihad. “For mainstream Islam, in mainstream history, you have the notion of jihad meaning to strive and struggle in God’s way,” he said, and therefore jihad is just a spiritual struggle “to be basically a good Muslim.” Some Muslim “emperors would use it to legitimate their wars,” he admitted, “but this is not unusual” given similar exploitation of religion in Western history.
Esposito also promoted the common canard that the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing “was influenced by Christian thought” and an example of how the “far-right uses Christianity.” Yet Timothy McVeigh was a self-proclaimed agnostic who chose as his last words before his execution the 1875 poem “Invictus,” which reflects the strident atheism of its Victorian author, William Ernest Henley.
In his catalogue of extremisms, Esposito also noted a recent “uptick with regard to antisemitism,” but ignored this development’s overt ties to Islamist hatred of Israel, rather than the “far-right.”
Esposito and Shipoli once again demonstrated that Georgetown is a bastion of apologists for Islamism. America should stop lavishing such propagandists with alms and oblations.