August 12, 2002
Carolina in the News
Current International Coverage
Here is a sampling of links and notes about Carolina people
and programs cited recently in the international and national media:
Students sue school over 'pro-Islamic' curriculum
National Post (Canada)
An attempt by the University of North Carolina to respond to the attacks of Sept. 11
by asking incoming students to read a book about the Koran has so offended some
Christian conservatives that they are suing.
Ban Of Quran Study Funds Criticized
The Guardian (UK)
A proposed ban on the use of public funds for a university reading assignment on the
Quran threatens academic freedom and could jeopardize accreditation, critics say.
(Note: This Associated Press story was also featured as a short brief in a The New
York Times's regional roundup on Saturday.
Current National Coverage
A Kinder, Gentler Koran
Homework is usually controversial only for the students who have to do it. But this
summer the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which customarily assigns a
book to its incoming freshmen, chose Approaching the Qur'an, a set of heavily
annotated excerpts from the Muslim Holy Writ. Chancellor James Moeser reportedly
asked his trustees, "What could be more timely?"
Looking for the Link
The New York Times
Dr. Deborah Winn has had breast cancer herself, so when she speaks to women who
have just received the dread diagnosis, she understands the nagging question: Why did
this happen to me?... But Marilie D. Gammon, the Long Island study's lead
investigator and an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, discounts the
connection, saying the effect was minuscule and the risk did not go up with greater
exposure, as it should have if the chemicals were causing breast cancer... Others said
it may be time to close the books. "I think it is important that these studies have been
done," said Dr. Barbara Hulka, an emeritus professor of epidemiology at the
University of North Carolina.
Inquisition at Chapel Hill (Commentary)
The Washington Post
The tempest currently bubbling at the University of North Carolina is a sobering
reminder that it is a whole lot easier to mouth pieties about the separation of church
and state than to observe that admirable principle in practice.
Editorial Cartoon by Tony Auth
Featured in the August 8th edition of The Washington Post
Islamic Texts in the Classroom (Letters to the Editor)
The Washington Post
I was outraged by the Aug. 7 front-page article "A Timely Subject -- and a Sore
One; UNC Draws Fire for Assigning Book on Islam." Keeping such a text from being
assigned to college-level students is ludicrous and racist...
(Note: The Washington Post featured three letters to the editor about UNC's summer
reading program. A Washington Post news story published Aug. 7 was distributed
via the Post wire service. Among outlets picking that up were The Houston Chronicle,
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and San Jose Mercury News.)
Dummying up: For fear of reading a book about the Koran (Commentary)
I'll say this for Bill O'Reilly. Unlike some other windbags of radio and TV, he's not afraid
to invite guests on his Fox News Channel program who, even if he's not listening, show
the rest of the world just how wrong he can be.
Save the Bigots
This morning in Pakistan, three women were killed as they left a Christian church,
apparently the latest victims in a spree of anti-Christian terrorism. Meanwhile, in North
Carolina, legislators and conservative activists are battling what they regard as another
assault on Christianity: The University of North Carolina is requiring incoming students
to read a book about Islam.
Good fathers? It figures
Conventional men may not be the glamorous male icons of today's society but, according
to a recent study, they have one thing going for them: They make good fathers... ''The
research shows that a father's role in providing economic and social status to the family
is very important,'' said University of North Carolina sociologist Kathleen Mullan Harris.
Photographs of Lynchings (Letter to the Editor)
The Chronicle of Higher Education
As the curator of the exhibit "Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America,"
I was gratified to see such a comprehensive treatment by Danny Postel ("The Awful
Truth," July 12). Although I am generally impressed with the scope and reach of Mr.
Postel's article, I am somewhat concerned that, in trying to weave a coherent story, he
may have misled, in some places, those reading the article. ...
(Note: Joseph F. Jordan is director of the Sonja Haynes Stone Black Cultural Center.
The Chronicle of Higher Education requires a subscription to access articles.)
National News Notes
Provost Robert Shelton appeared on "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," on
WUNC-TV (PBS) Friday about the summer reading program. To listen or
view the program online, please visit
Quran should be understood, not slandered (Opinion-Editorial Column)
The State (South Carolina)
The University of North Carolina is being sued for assigning my book, Approaching
the Qur'an: The Early Revelations, as required summer reading for first-year students.
The plaintiffs charge that UNC indoctrinates students with deceptive claims about
the peaceful nature of Islam, violating the separation of church and state. In fact, the
book makes no general claims about Islam.
(Note: Michael Sells is author of "Approaching the Qu'ran." Other pick-up of this
column which originated in the August 8th edition of The Washington Post includes
The Atlanta Journal Constitution and the News and Observer.)
State and Local Coverage
Academic Freedom (Editorial)
The situation grew more serious last week when state legislators joined in that affront
to the First Amendment and to academic freedom. Then, when the University of North
Carolina's board of governors failed to pass a resolution supporting the 16 UNC
campuses in their "commitment to religious, academic and political freedom," what
started as an annoying lawsuit grew into a serious threat to the integrity of the
From the Speaker Ban to the Prophet Ban (Commentary)
Has the legislature learned anything in the past four decades? Apparently not, if it lets
stand a House Appropriations Committee amendment meddling with academic
freedom again at public universities. Nearly four decades ago the General Assembly
made itself and the University of North Carolina an international laughingstock when
it adopted the infamous unconstitutional Speaker Ban in a well-intended but ultimately
foolish attempt to shield students from strange ideas.
Stand up, stand up for politics (Editorial)
Wilmington Morning Star
Grandstanding for the votes of people who don’t think – and who dislike people who
do – is a hallowed American tradition, and just in time for the September primary,
North Carolina politicians have been given a chance to demonstrate their fidelity to
the religious traditions most of us share.
House action embarrasses North Carolina (Editorial)
If North Carolina legislators have been concerned about the declining national standing
of the state's flagship university, they did their best last week to further wreck its reputation.
N.C.'s thought police (Editorial)
Our legislators are right about one thing -- some things you read, hear and see can be
truly disturbing. Case in point: the recent error-strewn, narrow-minded and generally
clueless discussion in the N.C. House Appropriations Committee on an amendment
aimed at stopping the nation's oldest state university from expecting incoming freshmen
to read about the Quran, Islam's holy book.
Talking points for Quran samplers (Commentary)
All right, to start with a confession: When the topic for UNC-Chapel Hill's new-student
summer reading program first was announced, I was among the snorters and eye-rollers.
The fear of foreign ideas (Commentary)
One wonders what Senator Sam and other country sages would have thought about the
legislative flap over whether incoming freshmen at UNC-Chapel Hill should be required
to read a book about the Quran. There was little that was new about the move last week
by a state House committee to prevent UNC-CH from requiring incoming freshmen to
read "Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations," by Michael Sells.
Editorial cartoon about UNC's summer reading program
UNC board avoids Quran stand
Worries about legislative moves that would stifle academic freedom took center stage
again in Chapel Hill 39 years after the General Assembly passed its infamous Speaker
(Note: Other coverage includes The News and Observer. A related Associated Press
story was featured in the Charlotte Observer and the Wilmington Morning Star.)
For sake of unity, Quran book worth my time (Letter to the Editor)
Regarding "Quran book is worth UNC students' time" (Ken Garfield, July 20): I will be
an incoming student at UNC Chapel Hill.
House effort is an embarrassment (Letter to the Editor)
I find the recent House panel's decision to bar funding to UNC's assignment involving
religious education absolutely reprehensible.
Useful knowledge (Letter to the Editor)
I, for one, would like to applaud UNC-Chapel Hill's book selection for the incoming
freshman. My son is starting UNC shortly and we all thought how insightful it was on the
part of the administration to propose such a book, in light of the current times.
Enrollment at colleges on the rise
Students who live close enough to drive to UNC Charlotte and hadn't yet signed up
for a dorm received letters last week from the school. They'll have to commute. The
dorms are full... The story could've been the same at UNC Chapel Hill if it hadn't
opened four new dorms this year with space for 500 more students than last. All those
beds are already taken too.
(Note: The Observer has been contacted about the misspelling of Jerry Lucido's name.)
Issues and Trends Affecting Carolina
Planetarium will have one-stop voting
University administrators and elections officials have agreed to reopen a one-stop voting
center in the Morehead Planetarium in time for the Sept. 10 primary. Associate Provost
Steve Allred said Thursday that he and Orange County elections director Carolyn Thomas
had ironed out an agreement to reopen the center.
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