The Flight of Thomas Nagy
by Daniel Pipes
In "Profs Who Hate America," Jonathan Schanzer and I pointed to the topsy-turvy world in which American professors "consider the United States (not Iraq) the problem" and gave six examples of this way of thinking. One of them was a quote from Thomas Nagy, associate professor of business at George Washington University, who, we said,
proudly informed his university newspaper about providing aid to the Saddam regime against the United States during a recent (illegal) trip to Iraq. Specifically, he offered "estimates of the number of civilians needed to act as a human shield to protect infrastructure and buildings for Iraqi citizens."
In a belated response, Nagy wrote a long piece, "Why I Am Leaving This Country: Daniel Pipes and the Failure of Democracy in America," that appeared at Muslim WakeUp! on July 25, 2003, and has subsequently been widely reprinted on Islamist and far-left websites. In it, he announced to the wide world that our little quote caused him such pain that he has given up on the United States, a country where he became a citizen in 1954:
So I am moving to Canada in a few days where I will apply for citizenship and try to rebuild my 20-year university career in a functioning democracy.
I think Canada's secret is simple: a small, peace keeping-oriented military; a small weapons industry; no empire to rule and no countries to conquer. (Sending trigger pullers to Afghanistan was an aberration. Canadian troops die if they must but as peace keepers, not as killers of essentially defenseless people.)
I hope to die in Canada and atone for my stupidity and culpability in paying taxes to the most well-oiled killing machine in history, the United States of America, by teaching peace studies and promoting pacifism, which I think is the only force powerful enough to overcome America's super weapons.
Well, I found it a bit of a stretch that our quote should have prompted such a massive shift in the good professor's life, so I did some research on him and then wrote him the following letter on July 26:
Dear Mr. Nagy:
I read your affecting story published on July 25, where you recount how my quoting you in a column last fall has prompted you to flee the United States for Canada, where you in fact "hope to die."
I also note that at "GW -- A Real University? What do you think?" dated July 4, 2003, you wrote the following (and I preserve here exactly your punctuation):
You all might be interested to learn? that after 20 years of teaching at GW and 4 in the "Faculty" Senate, I have been kicked off the Sch of Biz Listserv as well as the Mgt Sci Dept. Listserv.? ... What's next, will I get kicked this listserv too? I'm leaving for Canada in 3 weeks to be a visiting prof. of peace studies at MacMaster U. I probably will not return to GW unless it becomes a real university or to the U.S. till it returns the Bill of Rights
This prompts two questions.
The July 4 explanation for leaving the US (a job offer) seems to contradict the one you gave on July 25 (my column); could you reconcile them for me?
Your saying that you "probably will not return to GW" seems to contradict your wish "to die" in Canada; could you again reconcile these statements?
Yours, Daniel Pipes
It comes perhaps as no shock that I still await a reply from Professor Nagy. (July 31, 2003)
Reader comments (1) on this item
Comment on this item
You can help support Daniel Pipes' work by making a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum. Daniel J. Pipes