Columbia University Celebrates Edward Said
MSNBC: Scarborough Country
Translations of this item:
You know every night we take a moment to highlight examples of liberal elitism in a segment we call, "There They Go Again," and tonight we're exposing an Ivy League school for celebrating a prominent anti-Semitic scholar on its payroll. Columbia University, there they go again.
Now Edward Said is a Columbia professor who just happens to be the leading spokesman for the Palestinian cause against Israel. Today Columbia's celebrating the 25th Anniversary of his book "Orientalism" and which he describes as "an examination of the way the west perceives the Islamic world." With me now from Philadelphia is Daniel Pipes. He's a Director of the Middle East Forum and Director of Campus Watch, which monitors and critiques the way Middle Eastern studies are taught on college campuses.
I'd like to thank you for being here with us tonight.
DANIEL PIPES, DIRECTOR OF THE MIDDLE EAST FORUM, DIRECTOR OF CAMPUS WATCH: Thank you Joe for the invitation.
SCARBOROUGH: Let's begin. Let's talk about this professor who's been caught on filming throwing rocks at settlements and over into Israel and he allegedly attempted to hit Israelis on the other side. Is this guy a hate monger? Is this the type of guy we want our students to be learning from in America?
PIPES: No, Joe.
Edward Said is not just your ordinary professor. He is first of all a university professor, meaning he's reached the highest ranks at the prestigious university of Columbia. Secondly, he is a demi-god in the eyes of many academics. He has redefined the study of the Middle East and other parts of the world. He has to a certain extent redefined the study of English literature and comparative literature. Thus the jubilee celebration today of the 25th anniversary of his book Orientalism.
For the rest of us not at the universities, this is fringe figure who - as you suggested - is a leading spokesman for not just the Palestinian cause but someone so radical that he has turned against Arafat for being too gentle on Israel.
SCARBOROUGH: That's unbelievable. Now he's written this also about the United States. "The stones and slings of young men are now offering courageous resistance to a demeaning fate meted to them by Israeli soldiers armed by the United States, policed by Arafat's apparatus with U.S. military and financial aid." Excuse me Daniel,but doesn't this sound like something that could come out of the mouth of Osama Bin Laden.
PIPES: It certainly could and the trouble is that Mr. Said's influence has been profound. I did an article just a few weeks ago on, you may remember, the "million Mogadishus" professor of Columbia [Nicholas De Genova].
PIPES: He is a younger - a junior professor who a few weeks ago at a teach-in at Columbia called for the death of American soldiers.
SCARBOROUGH: What's wrong - let me ask you. What's wrong with Columbia University where they let somebody like Said teach there and they celebrate his teachings and they also allow another professor to root against America in their war in Iraq.
PIPES: Well, this in a way follows from your discussion [in the previous segment] about CNN [and its view of itself as not American but international]. They're too superior to feel patriotism for the United States. These are internationalists who look at the world from, you know, a kind of lunar position, you know, far away, no allegiances. They feel genuinely distant from the United States. They don't like this country very much.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah. Let's look at some other people that Columbia employs. Obviously a professor who called for America's defeat in Iraq, a professor who organized a Palestinian film festival that featured several films calling for the destruction of Israel and a professor who labels Israel a Jewish supremacist and racist state. Now listen, I'm not on here defending Israel. I mean if they were saying that - if the university was saying that about any country that would be very troubling. Is this something that's happening at Columbia University in particular or does it happen in the elitist universities all over America?
PIPES: In general, I would say more at elitist universities than at your average university and it happens probably more at Columbia than at the others. But it is representative of a trend, which is that the universities in general are far left institutions. It is my generation, the 60s generation, that has taken over the universities and yanked them far to the left. What's interesting now is that the students are somewhat rebelling against this.
SCARBOROUGH: I wanted to ask you that question because I read a New York Times article last week and it's a great piece talking about that. Doesn't it make sense if the media's turning around and Congress is turning around, the presidency, that maybe these liberal institutions may be moving a bit more to the middle politically?
PIPES: Not yet, Joe. They are dominated by the administrators and the faculty who are generally on the far left. But the students coming up are not quite agreeing with that, so you have this interesting reverse of roles. It used to be the students who were the radicals, the leftist radicals, and the faculty were the centralists. Now to a certain extent it's the reverse and we'll see where it goes. My hope is that we can bring - we can bring back these institutions. They are very important institutions for American life. We need them to be centrist institutions again.
SCARBOROUGH: I agree with you Daniel Pipes. It looks like the revenge of Alex Keaton. Thanks for being with us.
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