Interviews with Daniel Pipes
Harvard's Un-American Activities
by William Levine
Recent happenings here at Harvard indicate a growing opposition — as though it were not large enough — of the university toward America's war on terrorism. The unconscionable decision to allow the commencement speech called "My American Jihad" — which whitewashed the real meaning of the term in favor of a mild vision of personal struggle — has now been followed by a faculty-signed petition against war on Iraq. As it has done all too often, the Harvard faculty, on practical matters, are blindly marching toward inconsequence. Unfortunately, Harvard is hardly the only American university suffering from this unpatriotic extremism. To hear an experienced perspective on Middle Eastern events, we spoke to Daniel Pipes '71 (Ph.D. '78), director of the Middle East Forum and prize-winning columnist for the New York Post and Jerusalem Post. Recently he launched Campus-Watch.org, which will monitor professors who propagate hatred and bias through the medium of Middle Eastern studies. The site currenly lists fourteen universities, Harvard among them, that promote bias. Mr. Pipes was interviewed September 30 by William Levine, a staff writer for the Harvard Salient.
THS: What is your sense of the current climate at Harvard?
THS: What do you think is the motivation for such apologetics?
THS: What role would you prefer Harvard to play in the war on terror?
THS: Can you talk about your new project called "Campus Watch" [http://www.campus-watch.org/] and, in particular, describe how Harvard came to be listed as one of fourteen schools that, according to Campus Watch, propagate hatred?
THS: No Harvard professors were listed on your site. Is there a reason for that?
THS: Many professors have protested your site by contacting you and asking that their names be added to the list of professors named. What was your reaction to that?
THS: What do you think about the notion that academia is dominated by people who think alike — in a politically correct manner — and that it is very difficult for people who share your views to break into academic circles?
THS: And what about the protests against the criticism of individual professors?
THS: Do you think that the views of these professors are having a tangible impact on American security and global security?
THS: Could you give an example?
THS: What were your thoughts when President Bush and others said, after September 11, that Islam was a "religion of peace"?
THS: Harvard president Lawrence Summers recently spoke to the fact that he believes that the pro-divestment, anti-Israeli movement is closely linked with anti-Semitism. What are your thoughts on that?
THS: How do you think the possible war against Iraq would affect the Middle East?
THS: Do you view the trip, over the weekend, by a few Democratic congressmen to Baghdad, as evidence of a breakdown in the united foreign policy of the administration and Republicans with the Democrats?
THS: Do you think the support for a war on terror will continue to erode, barring another terrorist attack?
THS: Do you think that American support for Israel has the potential to unravel given another terror attack, or some Israeli action that Americans do not view favorably?
THS: Would you like to make any final comment?
THS: Thank you for your time.
Letter to the Editor
The Harvard Salient
I found William Levine's interview with Daniel Pipes regarding Campus-Watch.org to be a morass of ignorance and bigotry ("Harvard's Un-American Activities," Oct. 4 Salient). It seems that in Mr. Pipes's view, anyone not mouthing an anti-Islamic viewpoint is to be condemned and labeled anti-Semitic. Freedom of speech and expression is a core value of American society, a value that organizations such as Campus-Watch.org seem designed to suppress.
Perhaps one of the most glaring errors that Mr. Pipes makes during this interview is in his discussion of the term jihad. I find it amazing that Mr. Pipes supposedly knows a true, sinister meaning of jihad, whereas the twenty-five academics he surveyed, and all of the Muslims I have ever known, are somehow incorrect. If he has access to some secret book that reveals the true meaning of jihad, I would like him to share his source.
I am an American-born Muslim who grew up amid non-Muslims to continue on to Harvard as an undergraduate. I can attest from personal belief and experience that the meaning of jihad I follow does not involve "expanding the realm of Muslim-controlled lands through military force." The very concepts that Mr. Pipes dismisses as incorrect are what jihad truly refers to: "such efforts as controlling one's anger, working for feminism, or combating apartheid." It describes the inner struggle to improve oneself. One facet of this struggle is to defend oneself if attacked. The Koran clearly states, however, that violence can only be in self-defense and that noncombatants are not to be harmed under any circumstances. A handful of people, representing an infinitesimal fraction of the world's Muslims, distorts and misuses this facet for their own ends, using the term jihad as a rallying cry as they carry out their terrorist activities.
Far from seeing the commencement speech "My American Jihad" as "egregious and disgraceful," I find the opposition to this speech egregious and disgraceful. If jihad is a peaceful idea to more than ninety-nine percent of the Muslims in America and abroad, I would think that hearing their viewpoint would be essential, rather than decrying that majority viewpoint as incorrect and pointing to a distorted, alternative meaning followed by a few.
October 20, 2002
Gladden J. Pappin '04, editor of the Harvard Salient, responds.
If Dr. Farooki would like to see good examples of suppression of freedom of speech and expression, perhaps he would be willing to look at the countries under the dominion of his own religion. Campus-Watch.org merely points out where non–politically correct views on Islam are being suppressed. What is wrong with bringing that information to light?
As for the supposed misinterpretation of jihad, perhaps that should be left to students of history. Anyone willing to survey how Islam spread during its first several hundred years will discover brutal religious wars centuries before the supposedly unjust Crusades. In my estimation, there are two "secret books" for discovering the true meaning of jihad: first, the Koran, whose verses have provided clear justification — in the minds of the terrorists — for their activities; and, second, any medieval history textbook.
To help Dr. Farooki understand jihad, it seems only right that he provided with some important dates. (1) A.D. 711, when the Islamic governor of North Africa decided it time to invade Spain via the Strait of Gibraltar, and where the Muslims remained until expelled by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492. (2) 1453, which saw the fall of Constantinople, the last outpost of Christian civilization in the east, to the Muslim Turks. (3) 1571, when an outnumbered Christian fleet defeated the attacking Muslims at the Battle of Lepanto, while Pope St. Pius V led Europe in prayer for the Christians' success. (4) 1683 — not even a century before the Declaration of Independence — when the Turks nearly overran Vienna. (5) 2001, on which year we hardly need to dwell.
To pretend that jihad is really about "such efforts as controlling one's anger, working for feminism, or combating apartheid" is a grievous insult to the men and women who have already lost their lives under attacks from Muslims bent on jihad. The definition is moreover a vile mockery of Islamic women, who suffer the most brutal oppression in nearly every Islamic state. As for "apartheid," the word is an apt description of the abominable religious discrimination present throughout Muslim-controlled lands.
After September 11, many Muslims objected to President Bush's use of the term "crusade" to describe America's response — though the term would hardly be inadequate. How much more, though, is it insulting for Muslims to pretend jihad is a peaceful concept — when both history and the Koran put the lie to this moronic deception? If we have left behind the term crusade, the least Muslims could do is drop their own highly charged word.
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