The Alwaleed bin Talal Chair

Meet Jonathan AC Brown – the Alwaleed bin Talal Chair of Islamic Civilization in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and the Director of the Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding.

Sarah Brown (no relation, I’m pretty sure) at Harry’s Place tells us what he’s been doing lately:

Brown has recently hit the headlines for defending the practices of slavery and concubinage in a lecture.  Like many apologists he borrows from discourses more usually associated with secular liberalism to soothe his listeners’ ears.  Some use the language of human rights and liberalism to defend illiberal practices. Brown disingenuously invokes postmodern relativist uncertainty to trivialise rape.  Here are some excerpts from his justification (taken from this piece at the Daily Banter).

It’s very hard to have this discussion because we think of, let’s say in the modern United States, the sine qua non of morally correct sex is consent. We think of people as autonomous agents. Everybody’s an autonomous agent and it’s the consent of that autonomous agent that makes a sexual action acceptable. Correct?

You can tell what’s coming next – oh gosh it’s way more complicated than that, hurble burble – all in the most general terms, as if this had nothing to do with men forcing sex on women, and with women’s subordination by men, and with patriarchy as a system that sees to it that men have autonomy while women do not. Easy for him, in short.

Sarah goes on:

With horrible sophistry, in a calm and chatty tone, Brown presents the fact that we cannot do exactly what we feel like all the time (or will pay a price if we try to do so) as a justification for rape.  Here, via Tom Holland, is another statement on the topic (from 2015).

“But it’s not possible to say that slavery is inherently, absolutely, categorically immoral in all times and places, since it was allowed by the Quran and the Prophet.”

Excuse me?

On the contrary – it’s the other way around. It’s entirely possible to say that the Quran and the Prophet were dead wrong to allow slavery, and contemporary academics who say otherwise are both wrong and immoral.

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