Interviews with Daniel Pipes
Campus Watch - A Good Idea?
Translations of this item:
DONAHUE: Daniel Pipes is director of Middle East Forum. On its Web site is a dossier, a list of Middle East specialists, mostly professors, who Mr. Pipes regards as extremists-anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, and in defense of militant Islam.
On what some call a black list is this gentleman with me here in the studio. You'll meet him in a moment. He's the Columbia University professor who found himself on this Web site.
Well, Mr. Pipes, sir, you're taking some pretty big hits. And not all of them are from people associated with Islam or Palestinian. Many Jews have called to say, I resent this. In fact, I want you to put me on it. You have Jewish professors calling, saying put me on it. This looks like an attempt to shut people up in the classroom.
Your comment, Mr. Pipes.
DANIEL PIPES, DIR., MIDDLE EAST FORUM: Mr. Donahue, you have the Web site all wrong. As far as I remember, it never mentions the word anti-Semitic. It's not about Israel. It's not about any of the things you've talked about. Let me tell you what this is about.
I am a Middle East specialist and I believe that Middle East studies, the study of the Middle East at universities, has gone wrong. I think they've made some basic mistakes, the specialists on the Middle East. They're intolerant. They're extremist in their political views. They abuse the powers vis-a-vis students.
And that's what I'm critiquing. It has to do with Iraq, with the Arab-Israeli conflict, with militant Islam, with American foreign policy, Saudi Arabia. So, where you got all this stuff from, I don't know. But it's not what the Web site is about and it's not what our purpose is.
DONAHUE: But you have invited students to send in names of professors who-I'm not sure what's the criteria to get up on this Web site. And incidentally, when these names appear on your Web site, they are spammed all day long. Just inundated.
PIPES: So we're told. We'll have to see if that's actually true. But let's talk about the students. I said abusive power. What we've seen repeatedly is that professors are cramming down their students' throats certain political ideas.
DONAHUE: Cramming down.
DONAHUE: That's very, very general language.
PIPES: Let me finish, Mr. Donahue. They have to give, regurgitate back the kind of political views the instructors have. And if they don't, in some cases they get penalized. So what we're doing is offering the least powerful people players on the university the chance to express themselves.
And we will make sure that we look at it, very soberly and in a very documented way, that if there is abuse of instructors' powers, it will become known. And the purpose of this is to make sure that instructors in the classroom behave properly.
DONAHUE: OK, let's talk about behavior, sir. You may have seen this interview that I conducted with Shimon Peres who, as you know, is the former prime minister of Israel. I want you to listen to this, sir. I'm asking you kindly. Listen to this, and then I have a question. If I said this as a professor in the classroom, would I be on your Web site? Here's the part of that interview that I want you to see.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
You have condemned the bombing in Gaza City that killed the bad guy and got nine babies with it.
SHIMON PERES, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: Unfortunately, in every war you have mistakes.
DONAHUE: Well, sir...
PERES: The greatest mistake is war itself.
DONAHUE: That was an F-16. It was an apartment building. Mr. Foreign Minister, I respect you, sir, and I do not want to badger you, especially since we give you so little time. That is not a mistake, to fire a missile into an apartment building at midnight. What, this terrorist is the only guy sleeping in that building? It is not a mistake. It is a direct action that you knew would cause civilian deaths.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Can I say that, as a professor in a classroom?
PIPES: Mr. Donahue, you haven't done your research very well. Go to my Web site. I forget which program it was, but it was MSNBC or CNN or Fox News. I went on that very same evening and I said roughly the same as you. I said, this has to be condemned.
So, what are you talking about? I'm talking about scholars of the Middle East, not people like you who are journalists. I'm talking about scholars of the Middle East who are making profound mistakes in their study of the Middle East, who are intolerant towards other views.
I'm not talking about what someone thinks about a certain incident. I'm talking about a lifelong focus of work that is mistaken. Let me just say, you know, don't mischaracterize the site. I encourage your watchers to go to it, campus-watch.org, and see for yourself.
DONAHUE: All right, here's a letter from Judith Butler, who writes as follows. "I have recently learned that your organization is compiling dossiers on professors at U.S. academic institutions who oppose the Israeli occupation and its brutality, actively support Palestinian right to self-determination as well as a more informed and intelligent view of Islam than is currently represented in the U.S. media. I would be enormously honored to be counted among those who actively hold these positions, and would like to be included in the list of those who are struggling for justice."
This is how your Web site is being received, as a sit down, shut up, and if you don't, we're going to embarrass you on our Web site. And you may have trouble getting across your campus to your classroom.
PIPES: Don't be silly. We are one very small think tank with a budget of under $1 million, taking on, monitoring, critiquing and trying improve Middle East studies across the country. We are in no position to shut anybody up. We don't want to shut anybody up. We don't want anybody to lose their job. We just want to say, look, you're a monopoly, and we're going to criticize this monopoly. You know what we are? We are the auditors in an intellectual Enron.
DONAHUE: We want you to meet a professor who found his name on your Web site. And we'll hear what he has to say to you when we come back, in just a moment.
DONAHUE: He's on the list. The one we're talking about, that some are calling a black list, of professors supporting, how shall we say this? In the company of Mr. Pipes, who says, hey, we're just calling attention to some people in Middle Eastern courses who are what? Speaking out against Israel? What do you understand?
How would you, Professor-I should say, Hamid Dabashi, who is chair of the Department of Middle Eastern and Asian Culture and Language at Columbia University. How do you read this?
HAMID DABASHI, COLUMBIA UNIV. PROF.: Let me just answer to two points that Mr. Pipes has made in his conversation. No. 1, he says that he is like an auditor taking care of the problem in Enron. So far as I understand the term auditors, they are to be better accountants than accountants.
Mr. Daniel Pipes is a failed academic. He has no credentials whatsoever in any academic context to see what we are doing in the Middle East institutes, or Middle East departments. No. 2, he says this spam that we have reported targeting us, "so we are told."
DONAHUE: You speak of the clutter of the e-mail.
DABASHI: Exactly. The hacking of our computers, and the fact that our e-mails are flooded with e-mails following his attack on us, and putting us on his Web site, is now documented that Columbia University security, NYPD, intelligence division of the New York police department, so as in Chicago and Michigan.
DONAHUE: You mean documented with the police?
DABASHI: With the police. That is, we are being attacked by hackers and by those who, following his attack on me-his initial attack on me was in the "New York Post" on June 26. Immediately after that, I received tons of death threats, racist, obscene and threatening voice mails. And immediately after that, the last week of August, tons of e-mails -hundreds, thousands of e-mails, to the point that Columbian security could not increase my quota enough.
PIPES: You must send me this information. Would you prove it to me?
DABASHI: If I may just, the evidence of all this, Phil, is with Columbia University security.
PIPES: Will you send it to me? Will you have them send it to me?
DABASHI: Mr. Ken Finnegan of Columbia security, if I could please not be interrupted. Mr. Ken Finnegan of Columbia security is, so far as my university is concerned, is in charge of this.
PIPES: Prove it to me. Just prove it, OK?
DONAHUE: With little time left. I want to get you both in. Please continue, Professor.
PIPES: The point about my being a failed academic?
DABASHI: Yes, you are a failed academic. You have not written one sentence worth reading twice.
PIPES: What is this?
DABASHI: This charlatan is...
PIPES: Wait a minute. Wait a minute.
DONAHUE: He is accusing you of attacking him personally.
PIPES: I have not attacked him personally.
DONAHUE: And he is outraged.
PIPES: You know why he's on our website? Because …
PIPES: Mr. Dabashi canceled a class in order to go to a political rally. I think it is unconscionable for a professor to do that.
DONAHUE: It's unconscionable for a professor to go to a political rally?
PIPES: To cancel a class to go to a political rally. That is not acceptable.
DONAHUE: All right, let him respond to that. You canceled a class to go to a political rally.
DABASHI: I canceled a class, which I immediately had a make-up class. I attended a political rally, which I...
PIPES: Mr. Dabashi, you have an obligation to your students which you do not fulfill.
DONAHUE: Let me ask you, Mr. Pipes, do you know how this Professor Dabashi stands on, for example, suicide bombing?
PIPES: I do not. That's not the topic.
DONAHUE: Well, I want to give him a chance to say.
PIPES: He canceled his class. He does not pay attention to his students. That's the issue.
DONAHUE: Oh, well that's a different point, then. You should be attacking him for academic inferiority. Not for...
PIPES: For abuse of power.
DONAHUE: Let's hear from you on this.
DABASHI: Phil, I can't get into a fighting match.
DONAHUE: I appreciate that.
DABASHI: I can't do this.
DONAHUE: Let's go.
DABASHI: The environment in which I operate, Phil, is classroom and the written page. I can't get into this kind of...
DONAHUE: Take advantage of the clock here.
DABASHI: The point is that it is my classroom which is at stake. You have to go to Columbia students and ask them, how do I teach? It is the function of-Columbia University has a Web site. If you go to that Web site, the students themselves have created something called CULPA, Columbia University Professor Ability, on which they rank professors who are the most popular professors.
DONAHUE: And how did you do?
DABASHI: And if you go there, there's a section called Golden Nuggets. If you go to that Golden Nuggets, I am on it. Long before failed academics.
DONAHUE: I want you to tell me how you feel about suicide bombing by Palestinian people.
DABASHI: I condemn categorically suicidal and homicidal violence. Any kind of violence.
DONAHUE: I regret that we are out of time. I thank you both. I think we should revisit this dialogue. And we'll be back in just a moment.
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