(OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, 9/6/2023) – The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on the Oklahoma State Department of Education to reject the partnership between the Islamophobic Prager University and Oklahoma schools.
In a press release issued on Tuesday, Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters announced an ongoing partnership with PragerU Kids.
SEE: Oklahoma State Department of Education announces partnership with PragerU Kids
“Oklahoma can do better by its students than serving them hate content from PragerU,” said CAIR-Oklahoma Executive Director Adam Soltani. “PragerU’s founder was rebuked for falsely claiming that swearing an oath on the Quran ‘undermines American civilization,’ and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
He noted that last month, CAIR’s Florida chapter called on the Florida Department of Education to clarify and reject any relationship between the Islamophobic Prager University and schools in that state.
BACKGROUNDER ON PRAGERU:
Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative describes Prager University this way: “Although it is not an academic institution, by using the word ‘university’ in its title PragerU implies that the right-wing messaging they spread is factually correct and expert-driven. A number of PragerU’s videos spread anti-Muslim rhetoric and conspiracy theories.”
The Bridge Initiative’s factsheet on PragerU lists a number of videos that promote Islamophobic tropes. One video features Ayann Hirsi Ali. In 2014, Brandeis University withdrew an award from Hirsi Ali after learning she stated “we are at war with Islam,” called for the closing of “all Muslim schools” in America, urged that Islam be “defeated,” claimed “there is no moderate Islam.” Ali suggested that the U.S. Constitution be amended to allow for discrimination against Muslims.
In a 2018 investigation of PragerU’s funding Sludge reporters wrote, “The right-wing educational website PragerU has published videos that discriminate against immigrants and Muslims.”
In 2006, Prager wrote that Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, should be prevented from taking his ceremonial oath of office using the Quran, Islam’s revealed text.
Prager also wrote that swearing an oath on the Quran “undermines American civilization.” The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, on which Prager served at the time, issued a statement saying his remarks were, “antithetical to the mission of the Museum as an institution promoting tolerance and respect for all peoples regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity.”
In its review of Dennis Prager’s appearance in Hungary, the Southern Poverty Law Center notes, “PragerU is not a university. It hosts five-minute videos where hosts provide a right-wing explanation of controversial topics.” SPLC notes that Prager and others were paid to, “give speeches praising Hungary’s far-right, Christian nationalist model as the savior of Western culture.”
The head of this model is Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán who has made racist and anti-Muslim remarks. Addressing supporters in Romania, Orbán said he did not want Hungary to become a “mixed-race” country. “We are willing to mix with one another,” Orbán said, referring to Europeans, “but we do not want to become peoples of mixed race.” He warned that “Islamic civilization” is “constantly moving toward Europe.”
SEE: PragerU’s Influence
SEE ALSO: Hungary Paid Dennis Prager $30,000 for an Hour of Appearances at Far-right “education’ conference
SEE ALSO: CAIR Calls on CPAC Texas to Drop Viktor Orbán as Speaker After Racist, Anti-Muslim Remarks
Prager University has also promoted Lost Cause mythology. The Lost Cause myth arose in the aftermath of the American Civil War as confederates sought to justify their defeat. Among its tropes are the notion that slavery was not a central cause of the civil war, an assertion that ignores pre-war confederate secession documents.
In 2020, Right Wing Watch published text of a Prager University video lamenting the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert Lee from the U.S. Capitol. In that video Prager U. cites a letter Lee wrote to his wife decrying the evils of slavery but they omit the full quote and context.
Of the same letter the U.S. National Park Service says: “In 1856 Lee wrote his views on the institution of slavery to wife. He described it as ‘is a moral & political evil.’ He however notes that it is ‘a greater evil to the white man than to the black race’ and that ‘the painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things.’”
CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.