October is Muslim American Heritage Month, “a month of celebration and sharing Muslim American’s contribution to the history & fabric of America.” The American Library Association (ALA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) are further promoting this theme by sponsoring two programs Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys, a scholar-led reading and discussion program for public audiences, along with a Muslim Journeys Bookshelf featuring “a collection of books, films and other resources that will introduce the American public to the complex history and culture of Muslims in the United States and around the world.” Of 125 libraries and state humanities councils awarded the Let’s Talk About It program, five recipients are in Texas. Of 953 similar locales receiving the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf, 26 of those are also within our state.
Denton, located just north of Dallas-Fort Worth and home to the University of North Texas, is one town receiving generous awards from these programs with the city’s public library receiving a bookshelf award and the university tapped for both the bookshelf and the discussion program.
The Denton Public Library will host a day of lectures and perspectives Oct. 5 with the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys program at the Emily Fowler Central Library.
The Bridging Cultures initiative is sponsored by the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities to encourage understanding between cultures and religions. The bookshelf is a collection of books, movies, and the Oxford Islamic Studies database; these materials are now available at the Denton Public Library. The collection is categorized into several sections, each focusing on a different aspect of Muslim cultural heritage: Connected Histories; Literary Reflections; Points of View; American Stories; Pathways of Faith; and Art, Architecture, and Film. The bookshelf collection is a “featured list” in the library’s catalog – simply access the catalog at library.cityofdenton.com and click on the Featured Lists tab at the top, then click on the Muslim Journeys link to see a list of all 29 books and DVDs.
The Denton Public Library is enhancing the program with guest speakers throughout the day on Oct. 5. Dr. Mahmoud Sadri begins the program at 10 a.m., comparing the challenges of the Islamic world with historical challenges in the United States. Imam Mohamed Fouad follows at 1 p.m. to discuss the Islamic faith and the Straight Path from an Islamic perspective. He also will discuss some of the books in the bookshelf collection. Lilly Ramin and Setareh Keshmiripour will speak at 4 p.m. about growing up in the United States from a Persian, non-Muslim perspective.
UNT Digital Scholarship Co-Operative provides the following description of Denton as well as its goals with these programs:
Texas has the eighth largest Muslim population in the United States. As a University town, Denton, Texas has a larger Muslim population—made up of staff, faculty, and students—than comparable communities elsewhere in Texas. As such, the Muslim community is visible and vibrant, yet remains marginalized, especially when compared to other ethnic, racial, and religious minorities.
UNT Libraries share the University’s commitment to diversity and to providing equitable access and representation to all members of the University community. Students and faculty from across the disciplines are engaged in research that examines cross-cultural encounters in America, the culture and history of other nations, and how these influences shape the present in terms of politics, the arts, and society. The Muslim Journeys Bookshelf and the Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys awards provide valuable materials for faculty and student research, and support the Libraries’ Strategic Goals to develop outstanding collections, and providing innovative services, including programming, to communities of patrons inside and outside the University.
The Let’s Talk About It Award provides support for programming around items from the collection. In partnership with the UNT American Studies Colloquium, led by Assistant Professor of English Kelly Wisecup, and the UNT Muslim Students Association, the Digital Scholarship Co-Operative will sponsor five scholar-led reading groups on the theme “American Stories.” In addition to the reading groups, UNT students, faculty, and staff will be invited to record video podcasts titled “My Muslim Journey: American Stories” in which they’ll describe books that shaped them as individuals. A final capstone event in which participants will share their videos will be held in the Spring semester. Librarians who are interested in helping with this programming, or who have ideas for other activities around the collection can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those who follow public policy issues and funding, the ALA and NEA – their activities and use of taxpayer dollars – are widely known. Education commentator and former public school educator Donna Garner offers this recap for those less familiar:
Leave it to the American Library Association (ALA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEA) to use our tax dollars to promote the Obama administration’s leftwing agenda – “Muslim Journeys Program” in Denton, Texas.
As best I could determine, the ALA receives around $184 Million per year of taxpayers’ dollars appropriated by Congress; and the NEA receives close to $154 Million.
The NEA is well known for such grants as the one in which an artist produced Piss Christ, a photo of a plastic crucifix submerged in urine.
In 2006 the American Library Association gave its prestigious “academy award” for Young People’s Literature (ages 12 – 18) to Looking for Alaska by John Green. The ALA award propelled this porn novel to popularity all around the country. See “Actual Quotes from the Book” — http://www.safelibraries.org/pushers.htm#language .
For years, we have tried to get Congress to cut the funding for ALA and NEA. With our country on the edge of the fiscal cliff, now would be a great time to let these two leftwing entities stand on their own.
Let the ALA and NEA raise their own funds to promote their leftist agenda and see how far they get. If the local taxpayers are sold on what the ALA and NEA want to do in their local communities, let the locals pay for it. If the people of Denton, Texas, want to fund “Muslim Journeys,” let the locals pay for it.
With the brutal killings in Kenya, Benghazi, Boston Marathon, Ft. Hood, 9/11, Mali, London, Tel Aviv, Baghdad, Basra, Marrakech, Nigeria, Thailand, Frankfurt, Manilla, and many more by Muslim terrorists, I think the ALA and NEA might find themselves with very little local support for “Muslim Journeys.”
As these programs often target younger Americans in seeking to normalize, downplay – even ignore – the complex religious, political and social tensions existing between Muslim and Western cultures, Garner offers this advice:
With schools so caught up in the 21st Century technology craze, I would encourage parents not to allow their school children to go on Skype or other online venues to dialogue with “global pen pals” – during the school day or on their techie devices at home. Jihadists are trying to lure our American children to join their terrorist networks. CNN recently reported that the Kenyan mall attacks may very well have involved jihadist Somali young men who have been lured from America over the Internet.
All of us need to be very concerned about an effort in the United States to desensitize our school children through their curriculum to destroy a belief in American exceptionalism. Such desensitization leaves our school children open to being linked up with unknown “global pen pals” who may very well be Muslim jihadists trying to recruit our children into their cause.
In Editorial: Florida libraries celebrating Muslim American Heritage Month, Watchdog Wire – Florida offers additional perspective on the content offered within these programs.