MIT hosts lecture tying global warming to Islamophobia

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CAMBRIDGE — The Massachusetts Institute of Technology hosted a lecture Monday that went where few lectures have gone before: the intersection of Islamophobia and global warming.

The MIT lecture — titled “Is Islamophobia Accelerating Global Warming?” — was to feature a talk from professor Ghassan Hage of Australia’s University of Melbourne, on the “relation between Islamophobia as the dominant form of racism today and the ecological crisis,” according to a MIT webpage advertising the lecture.

“It looks at the three common ways in which the two phenomena are seen to be linked: as an entanglement of two crises, metaphorically related with one being a source of imagery for the other and both originating in colonial forms of capitalist accumulation,” according to the lecture’s webpage. “The talk proposes a fourth way of linking the two: an argument that they are both emanating from a similar mode of being, or enmeshment, in the world, what is referred to as ‘generalised domestication.’”

Ridicule has heaped down on the speaker and the school for hosting it. Writing on the blog, Leslie Eastman reflected on the scheduled presentation:

“I must admit, I have seen a lot of crack-pot theories about Climate Change/Global Warming in the past two decades,” she wrote. Hage, she added, “has hit the motherlode of social justice nuttiness.”

On the website, Alex Griswold wrote of the bafflement caused by the notice of the lecture:

“Mediaite has read the lecture description several times over and can’t make heads or tails of it,” he wrote.

Fox News posted a story about the event, pointing out that it could not determine if it actually took place and if so, how many people may have attended. It reported that Hage, a Lebanese native, has previously sparked controversy in part for his anti-Israel views.

Hage’s lecture is not the first attempt to tie global warming to colonialism or social justice theories. For years, activists have seen global warming as an opportunity to promote their own social theories.

MIT is hardly the only top-tier school to promote global warming in an odd way. The University of Virginia hosted a ballet to raise awareness about global warming last Wednesday and there’s a powerful movement among activists to divest college endowments from holdings in suppliers of conventional energy sources.

According to the MIT webpage promoting the event, Hage studies “the comparative anthropology of nationalism, multiculturalism, diaspora and racism and on the relation between anthropology, philosophy and social and political theory.”

The average MIT student in the 2014-2015 academic year spent $58,240 for tuition and other expenses to attend the school. MIT is a private institution and is ranked as the 7th best university in America, according to U.S. News & World Report.

The talk was sponsored by MIT’s Ecology and Justice Forum In Global Studies and Languages. It was free and open to the public.

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