On San Bernadino

Eight years before, a Cal State San Bernardino student named Syed Rizwan Farook was enrolled in the World of Islam course. Doueiri had to dig to discover this fact: He’s not sure he taught Farook, and if he did, he has no memory of him. Now Farook’s identity was, with that of his wife, Tashfeen Malik, seared into recent history as the architect of the worst mass shooting in the U.S. since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Federal officials have said they are investigating the attack as an act of terror. And so Doueiri was in class late on a Monday to deliver something more than the typical class lecture. ‘At this point in time, some of you may be so traumatized,’ Doueiri told the class. ‘We’ve just got to be careful how...we express our sorrow.’

"Cal State San Bernardino Class on Islamic World Grapples with Students' Questions about Shooting" - http://lat.ms/1P8bo5L. I'm often asked what university studies of religion can do in response to such violence. The San Bernadino case provides sobering evidence that the perpetrator actually studied Islam at the regional university. The difficulty is that studies of religion depends on a context of reasonable reflection, cognitive empathy and a willingness to take perspectives other than one's own. Sadly, educators have little more to say to the insanity of violent extremism than to mourn and call for peaceful restraint. Nonetheless, our imperative after such events remains to help those wishing to think more constructively about such matters. It seems to me that this is precisely what Professor Doueiri is providing in his classes. Moreover, this is what motivates the American Academy of Religion to provide two responses against both anti-muslim rhetoric as well as recent changes to campus concealed gun carry laws