What is the Modern Language Association and why are they so concerned about rising anti-Muslim sentiment in America?

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MLA Statement on ‘Islamophobia’

The Executive Council approved the following statement in December 2015.

MLA  After the terrible (Muslim) shootings in Paris and San Bernardino, we have witnessed a sharp rise in Islamophobia, the intense hatred and fear of Islam and those identifying with the religion and its culture. This includes, but is not restricted to, targeting Arabs and Arab Americans.

In the United States there has been an upsurge in attacks upon and censorship and harassment of those who, as part of their scholarly work, teach about Islam. The MLA condemns any and all violations of free speech and academic freedom, including those based on race, religious affiliation, and ethnicity. We especially deplore the firings and intimidation of those teachers who aid in our understanding of Islam.

MLA Statement on Exclusion of Syrian Muslim Refugees

MLA Given its commitment to universal academic and educational freedom, which can only be enjoyed under broad conditions of personal and collective health, safety, and access to social, political, economic, and educational institutions, the MLA condemns the unilateral decision of Governor Greg Abbott to deny refugees from Syria entry to the state of Texas. We equally condemn similar measures undertaken in other states.

We view this act as a form of collective punishment levied upon a desperate population fleeing precisely the terrible forces that the governor rightly condemns. We share the sentiments of the UN Human Rights Commission: “A world that welcomes Syrians can help defeat extremism. But a world that rejects Syrians, and especially Muslim refugees, will just feed into their propaganda.” 

Maybe it’s because the MLA has been trying to pass an anti-Israel boycott?

The Modern Language Association just voted at its Annual Conference to postpone a boycott resolution vote until 2017.

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Legal Insurrection  At the 2014 annual meeting a resolution critical of Israel’s alleged breach of Palestinian academic freedom barely passed the House of Delegates, but then failed when the resolution was sent to the full membership.

There was no boycott resolution to be voted on this year.  Given that even a condemnation of Israel failed last year, hopes to advance the anti-Israel, anti-academic freedom agenda will have to wait for two years. The vote to confirm this delayed timetable was not a surprise.

According to one person in the room during discussion of the delay, the boycotters came “off as silly. Especially after events like this weekend.” [referring to attacks on Jews in Paris by Islamic terrorists]

Yet the efforts continue by the boycotters.  Expect sessions at next year’s annual meeting devoted to vilifying Israel based on distorted facts, as happened this year as well at an earlier breakout session.

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Chicago Reader  The MLA was slated to take up its own resolution on Israel, this one not a call for a boycott, but what might be a first step in that direction. Resolution 2014-1 would urge the U.S. State Department to “contest Israel’s arbitrary denials of entry to Gaza and the West Bank by U.S. academics.”

Why, if they were going to venture into human rights violations in foreign countries, had they focused on Israel? Why not China? Russia? Saudi Arabia? In the midst of parsing Milton or Blake, were they struck, in unison, with a Holy Land epiphany?

Turns out it was no accident. The push for an academic boycott of Israel is part of a movement with broader goals that began in Palestine nearly a decade ago and has become increasingly visible on American campuses. It’s called Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), and one of its founders, independent radical Muslim scholar Omar Barghouti, was speaking at the panel.

The MLA, already taking some heat in the media over the panel’s one-sided composition, had closed the door to any journalists who hadn’t obtained press credentials by the January 3 deadline (myself included). They denied credentials altogether to the Jewish News Service and to the conservative Daily Caller (which complained on its website that it had been turned down by the “fascist, Stalinist douchebags at the MLA”).

Opponents maintained that this resolution would have been the first step toward a full-blown boycott, divestment, and sanction- type decision.
Opponents maintained that this resolution would have been the first step toward a full-blown boycott, divestment, and sanction- type decision.