Letter to the Editor of the Daily Illini
by Daniel Pipes
Translations of this item:
Dear Sir or Madam:
Your Dec. 4 article by Kali Bhandari on my Dec. 2 University of Illinois talk, "Controversial speaker draws crowd at Foellinger," ends this way:
Your reporter neglects to mention is that after I critiqued the DI, I challenged it to publish what I had just said, plus the documentation that I omitted in the verbal presentation. You have refused to publish my critique as an oped, as requested, so I am sending an abbreviated version as a letter to the editor and publishing the full version online, at: http://www.danielpipes.org/1348/letter-to-the-editor-of-the-daily-illini.
Many student newspapers ran stories about my nomination to the U.S. Institute of Peace by President Bush, some positive some negative. Many student papers ran stories about Campus Watch, the project I head that reviews and critiques Middle East studies in North American; again, some were positive and some negative. And many student papers run stories about me in anticipation of my arrival on campus to speak.
But no student newspaper in the entire country has treated me in so biased and one-sided manner as the Daily Illini. From July to December 2003, I count a dozen articles, editorials, and letters on me, plus caricatures and photographs. Not a single one of these had anything positive to say about me. I know that efforts were made to balance the picture the newspaper presented but anything in my favor was rejected. Nor did the newspaper, as it was requested, publish an op-ed of mine in advance of tonight's lecture.
Here are some examples of what the DI's coverage of me has been like.
Mariam Sobh, a regular columnist, started things off in "Pipes: The Wrong man" on July 24 with the invective and tirades that would become standard. She stated that my web-site is "full of material that bashes Muslims and Arabs," and she describes me as a "supposed expert on the Middle East and Islam" person who only did "some undergraduate work" in the field. (For her information, I have PhD in Islamic history and have taught that subject at two major universities.) She asserted, without any proof, that: "Pipes is on a mission of destruction and until he destroys an entire ethnic or religious group, he probably will not be satisfied."
Her real agenda would seem to be shown in this statement: the government needs to "realize that there are real experts out there who can speak on behalf of the Muslim and Arab communities that don't have a personal agenda." Obviously, I have never claimed to speak on behalf of the Muslim and Arab communities. Translated, she seems to be saying that only Muslims have the right to talk about Muslims and Arabs. Well, that's a restriction I reject.
Shereen Sabet wrote in "Pipes shouldn't be nominated" that "people in our society such as Daniel Pipes are dangerous." (July 28) Faten Elkomy claimed in "Say no to Pipes" that I am "initiating violence here at home towards Muslims and Arabs." (July 29) In "Pipes against peace," Kamal Yassin labeled me "discriminatory against (anything) Muslim or Arab."(August 1)
Two letters appeared in the Dec. 1 issue. Demian Kogan suggests that I make "false statements" and states he is "ashamed" that I have been invited "to promote hateful and close-minded ideas on our campus." Another, Mona Haggag, compares my arguments to those of the Aryan nation against Black Americans. And on and on it goes.
These wild-eyed statements were made as such, based on virtually no information. Indeed, although the authors of these articles and letters are presumably students, they showed none of the creativity or capabilities required of students at a major research institutions. In fact, in nearly every case these articles and letters, plus the handouts distributed this evening, were based on the careless and propagandistic work of a militant Islamic lobby group in Washington, DC. The students included every out-of-context quote that this lobby unearthed, and they even reproduced a fictional quotation it attributed to me ("The Palestinians are a miserable people," July 29). It bears noting that three persons – employees and board members – of this same lobby have been arrested and are now in jail on terrorism-related charges.
The Dec. 2 newspaper shows on the front page a photograph of the Central Illinois Masjid and Islamic Center where two people are busy preparing to protest my talk that evening.
To top if off, beyond all this prejudicial and unbalanced treatment, the Daily Illini in an editorial on Dec. 1 about me titled "Promoting Hate," and which further assaults me, included a graphic that is a true disgrace to this school. The drawing shows a match lighting a of Star of David – a clear antisemitic provocation. Who, exactly, is promoting hate?
I grieve deeply that standards and morality have fallen so badly at this student newspaper.
Sept. 12, 2004 update: I have now heard from two writers at the Daily Illini, both of whom assure me that the bad old days are over and that since the start of the 2004-05 school year, "the paper has been far more even handed." This is welcome news indeed, and let's hope that nothing like the descent of the Daily Illini happens there or at any other school paper again.
Dec. 10, 2004 update: Chicago's JUF News has an article in its December issue, "Daily Illini publishes anti-Semitic comic strip" (not online), that suggests the newspaper's problems with Jews are far from over. The offending comic strip, by Matt Vroom, appeared in early November; representative of the reactions was that of Joel Schwitzer, executive director of the Hillel Foundation at the University of Illinois: "When I took a look at what I saw, my heart sank and my jaw dropped. I simply could not believe the anti-Semitism, hatred and racism I saw when I opened the paper."
Aug. 24, 2005 update: "Solomon" points out that Mariam Sobh has graduated to the ranks of National Public Radio. Who else, one might ask, would want a person with such views.
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