In response to a post about the generous public funding of yeshivas that fail to teach English, science, mathematics, or history, our resident polymath Bob Shepherd compared these schools to Islamic madrassas.

Well, traditionally, in the Arab world, young men interested in following a religious vocation would go to one of the schools attached to a mosque, a madrassa, to study. These madrassas were Islamic seminaries. During the Russo-Afghan War, powerful, wealthy traditionalists in Saudi Arabia started funding madrassas throughout the Middle East and other parts of the Islamic war to inculcate a new generation of young people, mostly very poor young people, in an extremist version of Sunni Islam that is the de facto official religion in Saudi Arabia, Wahhābīsm. At the time, the U.S. was supporting the Afghan resistance, supplying training and weapons to resistance fighters like the young Osama bin Ladin, who made his name among the resistance fighters when he and others stopped a convoy of Russian tanks with American-supplied Stinger missiles. Well I remember Ronald Reagan speaking of those Afghan “freedom fighters” and saying that they were “Good, God-fearing people, just like us.” Those fighters were the Taliban. Yup. Same Taliban. Now, bin Laden and other young people in that movement were followers of an Egyptian named Sayyed Qutb, who had come to America to study, had been horrified by things like seeing women singing on television, and went back and started writing books about how decadent Western culture was going to inundate and overwhelm Islam and the only way to stop that was to fight back vigorously. To that end, he coopted a word that had referred to spiritual struggle toward enlightenment, jihad. So, the combination of the Saudi-funded fundamentalist madrassas and the work of Qutb helped create a powerful Islamicist movement, with consequences that included the events of 9/11.

Well, flash forward to today. The Extreme Court, formerly the Supreme Court of the United States, has been taken over by a supermajority of religious nutcase Republican appointees, including three appointed by the areligious Donald Trump (his worships only himself and Mammon). That Extreme Court is busily clearing the way for taxpayer funding of religious schools in order to create vehicles for indoctrination of a new generation of kids in fundamentalist, nationalist Christian ideology (see, for example, the Hillsdale 1775 curriculum), just as extremist traditionalists in Saudi Arabia funded the training of extremists in religious schools, madrassas, all over the Middle East and beyond. Why is the Extreme Court doing this? Because educated Republicans can see from polls and from the culture at large that the youth and the cultural avant-garde are against them ON EVERY ISSUE. So, they want to create a mechanism for turning that back, and religious schoolings is such a mechanism. Institutions for indoctrination.

It’s ironic, isn’t it? The Pugs HATE Islamic fundamentalist education, but fundamentalist education is precisely what they want the rest of us, here, to pay for.