On January 27, 2003 the Hamilton College Objectivist Club, Chaplaincy, Hillel, Dean of Students' Office, Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center, and government department brought Dr. Daniel Pipes to Hamilton College.
Dr. Pipes began his visit with a Q&A seminar on the subject of his recently published book, Militant Islam Reaches America. Tracing the spark of militant Islam to 1979, with the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini and his declaration of war against the United States, Pipes defined a militant Muslim roughly as one who turns his faith into a political tool.
Pipes also repeatedly drew the parallel between the war on militant Islam—as opposed to the featureless "terrorism"—and World War II. For instance, last spring Harvard University allowed a graduating senior to give a commencement address entitled "My American Jihad." Yet during World War II, the American government would have never allowed a commencement apologetic on "My American Kampf." Interestingly, kampf and jihad both mean "struggle."
Further, distressed by such doubletalk as academically fashionable definitions of "jihad" and "terrorism," Pipes affirmed, "We need the courage to name the enemy in order to defeat it." He added, "The good news . . . is that it is now being called a war. . . .Terror is a symptom, not a cause." Finally, responding to a student's allusion to Israel as a theocracy, Pipes defined that word. Rather than based on a national religion as in Israel, theocracy means that the religious leaders run the state, as in Iran.
In his lecture, Pipes similarly explained that the current "cycle of violence" between the Israelis and Arabs is, in fact, a war—"with all that that implies." For instance, using a drone the U.S. government recently bombed a car driven by a member of al-Qaeda in Yemen. Our action was largely uncontroversial. Yet when the Israelis act in this way, we urge them to show "restraint"; after all, they are engaged in a "peace process."
Pipes's thesis ran as follows: the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 is the "central issue" of the Arab-Israeli war. The prerequisite for peace, then, is not such quick fixes as the two-state plans everyone in Washington now floats, but to make Arabs realize that after fifty-four years, Israel is here to stay. Happily, the Arabs are beginning to accept reality—but only in proportion as Israel "punishes violence so hard that its enemies will eventually feel so deep a sense of futility that they will despair of further conflict." Only then can Israel renew the Oslo accords, which were a "disaster," since they lured the Israelis into hoping that the Arabs actually acknowledged them.
In response to a question about Israel demolishing Palestinian homes without permits, Pipes cited the "obsessiveness" people attach to this crisis. Would America, for instance, demand that any other ally negotiate with an archterrorist the likes of Yasser Arafat? No, and in the same way America should give Israel carte blanche to wage war as Israel sees best. Indeed, Pipes refused to entertain a question disputing Israeli's existence.
In response to my question about the extent to which America should entangle herself in this war, Pipes smiled and began, "I agree with the implication of your question." Additionally, Pipes denied the label "refugees" to the Palestinians, who are now in their fourth generation. He also called the terrible circumstances of the Palestinians "a result of their own violence."
I began my introduction for Dr. Pipes noting: "Regularly, speakers lecture at Hamilton College. Rarely, however, do they bring to the Hill a viewpoint that is a breath of fresh air—especially on an issue that many intellectuals have made noxious." As it happened, my words had an ever-larger meaning than I originally foresaw. The night before Pipes's visit, Professor of Anthropology Douglas Raybeck sent an all-campus e-mail presenting various quotes from Dr. Pipes. Wrote Professor Raybeck:
"Mr. Pipes became the bête noire of U.S. Muslim organizations after writing an article for the National Review in 1990 that referred to 'massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and not exactly maintaining Germanic standards of hygiene.'"
To wit, Raybeck attributed a racist motive to Pipes.
Alas, Professor Raybeck, a man generally of impeccable scholarship, though he mentioned Dr. Pipes's Web site, omitted the context for the quotes. In fairness, I now present Pipes's response: "My article...is my description of European attitudes, not of my own views."
Fortunately, Associate Professor of Art Steve Goldberg swiftly replied to the campus, with tragic accuracy:
"It never ceases to amaze me who on this campus 'pipes up' to caution us as to the possible biases of visiting speakers. Notice that when it is a left-of-center speaker, he are considered to be neutral and unbiased, thus requiring no 'sagely' cautionary advice. However, stray ever so slightly to the right and our so-called liberal instructors feel it their duty to protect us from thinking for ourselves."
Indeed, it's a sad day when people allow their political ideologies, rather than the facts, as they clearly exist, to guide them.
The following morning, a taxi picked up Daniel Pipes from Hamilton. This great defender of justice and academic freedom, a professional and a brilliant man, whose visit to Hamilton was as urgent as it was superb, needed to prepare for further hostility at another college visit.
Jonathan Rick is president of the Hamilton College Objectivist Club.