It’s a Small, Small World

For starters, one of my professors from the U moved to the Emirates to teach at a university here. I found this out through Facebook.

The funniest part is not that two U of U people ended up in the Emirates because, as we determined in the last post, lots of Utahns end up here.

What’s really funny is the post that came up today, about this professor and one of my AUS professors.
But first, some crucial backstory.

My first semester at the U I took a course called Comparative Politics of the Middle East. One of the required textbooks was this truly wretched book–let me see if I can find it…Hah! Even better. Found the email I sent to my teacher. Dated November 29, 2007:

And since this may be the only chance I get to say this: Roskin and Coyle should not have a written a textbook. Specifically that textbook. Okay, their informal language makes it a much more interesting read than, say, that of Beverly Milton-Edwards. But Milton-Edwards is accurate and objective. Roskin and Coyle are uninformed and, on more than one occasion, blatantly biased. Their information about Islam and Middle Eastern culture is just horrible. Horrible! I think your students ought to be informed of this before putting down 60 precious dollars on a book of misinformation. I took the liberty of putting a warning label on the cover page of mine and marking the worst parts (I’m selling it back to the bookstore).
This is the book. Don’t ever buy it. If you see anyone reading it, tell them to send it back. The history bits are great, but the cultural bits are just so offensively off. Do you hear me Roskin and Coyle?? Your book SUCKS.

[In case you’re interested, this is how my teacher responded:
I completely agree with you on the quality of the Roskin/Coyle textbook. I will not use it in any of my future classes. It was my mistake for not having taken a closer look at it before assigning it to this class.

Hah! Take that, Roskin and Coyle!]
So bad book, blah blah blah. And by blah blah blah, I mean that I was so irritated by this book and the seemingly willful ignorance of its authors, that I wrote several long emails to my parents detailing my beef with the book, quoting sections of it and pointing out all the reasons which made these authors completely unqualified to be authoring this textbook.

My parents know many people at the university (not of Utah) and attend social gatherings of all sorts, and at one of these gatherings they struck up a conversation with one of my former professors. Of course, I was brought into the conversation because he knew me and this was my first semester away at college. Also, because I had been sending long rants about how biased this textbook is and Can you believe they said this?? and this prof is particularly interested in the perception of the Muslim/Arab world by Westerners. He emailed me about it shortly after their conversation and asked to know more about the book. When I came out for Christmas, I brought the book with me, complete with underlining and marginalia. I couldn’t sell it back to the bookstore because my teacher wasn’t using it again, so I just set it on this professor’s desk and said, Good Riddance!!

Tonight, nearly two years after parting ways with the book, I read this message on facebook:

Guess who I have been hanging out with in the last couple of weeks. He is Associate Professor of Arabic, previously at AUS, now at AUD. Does [professor’s name] ring a bell? Shall I just say” Textbook complaint”. This world is very small .

Yes. Yes it is.

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