Elliot takes a different view of the situation, however. The title of the piece really says it all: "Critics Cost Muslim Educator Her Dream School." From there, the rest of the article serves to paint the picture of the principal, Debbie Almontaser, as a frustrated idealist unfairly targeted by media and harsh critics.
Elliot and the Times characterizes Almontaser as a well-intentioned moderate Muslim who became the victim of circumstance, of a "well of post-9/11 anxieties," and of unscrupulous critics who characterized her as "a 'radical,' a 'jihadist' and a '9/11 denier.'”
The thing is, Elliot may be right in this. Almontaser may have truly wanted to start a relatively secular school -- as much as "normal" (i.e. Christian-leaning) public schools can still be called secular, anyway -- that was able to cater to an Arabic-speaking population. Many of her critics may have been out of line, calling her a terrorist, among other things. The media may have seized upon the controversy and burned her at the newsprint stake.
But none of that is really the point. The point is that on top of the fundamental problems with the entire concept of public education, this school adds insult to injury by using taxpayer dollars to fund a school that could easily foster Islamist ideas while teaching the Arabic language.
Despite attempting to present him in a negative light, Elliot does print detailed quotes from Daniel Pipes, one of the primary critics and director of the Middle East Forum, and the intelligent reader can go from there.
The Times article is a long one, and goes into great detail about the various troubles at the school, the media scandals, and details more of the criticisms by Pipes and others. But the overwhelming bias of the article is palpable, and Almontaser is presented as a tragic figure who could have created a "dream school" where the students would become "ambassadors of peace and hope," but for the fact that she "didn't get a chance."
The danger, Mr. Pipes says, is that the United States stands to become another England [a la the Archbishop of Canterbury -ed] or France, a place where Muslims are balkanized and ultimately threaten to impose sharia.
“It is hard to see how violence, how terrorism will lead to the implementation of sharia,” Mr. Pipes said. “It is much easier to see how, working through the system — the school system, the media, the religious organizations, the government, businesses and the like — you can promote radical Islam.”
Mr. Pipes refers to this new enemy as the “lawful Islamists.”
They are carrying out a “soft jihad,” said Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, a trustee of the City University of New York and a vocal opponent of the Khalil Gibran school. [links and bold added]
It is this casual acceptance -- and even admiration -- by the cultural relativists of an Arabic-language school next door to Ground Zero that is so galling. Still, I would like to see the amount of public indignation described in the article also being raised about Spanish-language public schools, or better yet, the very existence of public schools in general.
It's hard to celebrate a movement to bring down an Arabic school to fight Islamist ideas taking root in the culture, when the much more insidious ideas of a "public right" to education are flourishing, sucking my pockets dry, and leaving my family with a scant few good options for education.