Department of Corrections (of Others' Factual Mistakes about Me)
by Daniel Pipes
I welcome an intelligent debate of the issues but prefer not to respond to falsehoods about myself, as this both reduces time available to do my work and puts me on the defensive, but on occasional I must make exceptions to correct the record. This tends to be when:
That said, here goes:
The Palestinians "are a miserable people": For proof that the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs misquoted me when it ascribed to me the statement, "The Palestinians are a miserable people ... and they deserve to be" see my letter to the editor at http://www.danielpipes.org/cair.php#WRMEA. (October 1, 2001)
Islam and democracy: An article appeared today "Islam and Democracy? – What a Strange Question!" by Mohammed Elmasry, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Waterloo in Canada and national president of the Canadian Islamic Congress. Here is where I come into the picture:
Two high-profile groups these days maintain that Islam and democracy are incompatible.One is represented by western-hemisphere writers like Bernard Lewis and Daniel Pipes. In their view, since Islam is considered anti-democratic and since western-based experience correlates democracy with world peace, the only conclusion to be drawn is that most of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims are therefore a liability, an impediment to peace.If the Lewis and Pipes group were to ask me—an unlikely scenario—I would have to respond that theirs is a racist and dangerous ideology, based on twisted dogma and chopped logic.
My asking Elmasry for his opinion may be unlikely, but his asking me – or even reading me – is even less so. For the embarrassing fact is, I have addressed the question of Islam and democracy and have answered it quite differently from what Elmasry imagines I would say. Here is an example; in a PBS-sponsored debate in July 2003 on "Islam and Democracy," I wrote the following:
Muslims today groan under dictatorships, but one day could be model democrats. Further, Islam can be interpreted many ways, and there is nothing about it that immutably contradicts democracy.
Whoops. Maybe Mohammed Elmasry should go back to writing about electrical and computer engineering.
But the problem goes far beyond Elmasry. I find myself constantly being ascribed views that I don't hold and then insulted, as Elmasry does above, for holding those non-existent opinions. It's pretty annoying; I shall note these instances from time to time in this space. (January 22, 2004)
Muslims and violence: Robert Dickson Crane, a former advisor to Richard Nixon and perhaps the most prestigious of American Muslim converts, refers twice to me in a paper titled "From Clashing Civilizations To a Common Vision," presented last September.
Daniel Pipes, who says that all Muslims are inherently violentthose areas that Daniel Pipes a decade earlier had dubbed the "ring of fire" all around the Muslim world
When I challenged Crane to show that I had ever made such a generalization about Muslims or used the phrase "ring of fire," he replied by calling the above paper "bogus" and explained that it had been stitched together by the conference coordinator "from a scrap copy" of his newest book. He called the result "an absolute hodgepodge" and wrote that the part referring to me, "was deleted entirely as unscholarly and detrimental to the rest of the book."
On the matter of the two specific items I had protested: About the first, he assured me the text will be amended when it appears in the book:
I will change the text of the new book to change the sentence, "Daniel Pipes, who says that all Muslims are inherently violent," to "all Islamists."
That is now exactly right.
About the "ring of fire" phrase, Crane conceded that I did not come up with this phrase in reference to the Muslim world but suggested Bernard Lewis coined it about 1990. That made me curious, so I did a little Internet research. I found no use of the term by Lewis, but I did find it in a quotation in an article by John Esposito. Esposito quotes someone he calls a "native-born American convert to Islam, Ivy League educated and a former government consultant" using "ring of fire" here:
Every informed Muslim would point to America's bizarre complicity in the genocidal destruction of Chechnya, its tacit support of India's incredibly brutal occupation of Kashmir, its passivity in the ethnic cleansing of Bosnia, and even America's insistence on zero casualties in stopping the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo. These are hot spots in the so-called "ring of fire" around the edge of the Muslim world, where Muslims are throwing off the shackles of old empires.
And who might the author of these words be? Why, none other than Robert Dickson Crane! Esposito references the above quote to Robert Crane, "Re-thinking America's Mission: The Role of Islam," American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, (Fall/Winter), 2001.
So, Crane accused me of using a term that he himself coined. Pretty rich, no? When I pointed this out to him, he did not argue otherwise: "it certainly would appear that I invented both the term and you as its origin, which would make me the originator."
Trouble is, given how the Internet works, a number of websites have repeated this ascription of "ring of fire" to me, so it is now part of the immutable record. Thus does pseudo-scholarship come into existence and proliferate.(Febuary 5, 2004)
My altercation with Hussein Ibish: Details on this can be found at "Newsweek's 'Periscope' Gets It Wrong." (
Muslims and internment: I wrote an article, "Why the Japanese Internment Still Matters" and then clarified loose ends in a weblog, "The Japanese Internment, CAIR, and Me" (note especially the Dec. 29, 2004 update). In the latter, I made my views on the idea of interning Muslims completely clear: "I raised the subject of the Japanese internment because it 'still matters' in its influence on the U.S. public debate, and not because I advocate the internment of anyone today."
Nonetheless, various academics, journalists, and others (the most egregious example being the weblog of Juan Cole, where he states that I have "fond visions of rounding up Muslim Americans and putting them in concentration camps") have chosen to twist my words and write that I am calling for the internment of Muslims. As I write a plain English, I can only assume that they misstate my views out of denseness or malevolence.
So, I write here again: I am not calling for the internment of Muslims. I am calling for an ideological war on radical Islam and the understanding that Islamists are our enemy. I see anti-Islamist Muslims as critical to the war on radical Islam and far from wanting them interned, see their active participation as critical to winning the conflict.
And perhaps, in the hope of eliminating ambiguity, I should repeat here the policies suggested by Michelle Malkin and endorsed by me in my article:
(December 31, 2004) July 19, 2005 update: I tell the story today, at "[The Canadian Islamic Congress:] An Islamist Apology," of how I won a retraction from the Canadian Islamic Congress for its inaccurate depiction of my position vis-à-vis the interning of Muslims.
Reappointment to the U.S. Institute of Peace? The Forward carries a decidedly strange piece about me today, "Bush Fails to Renominate Pipes to Institute of Peace." The writer, E.J. Kessler, labors under the illusion that someone recess appointed by the president is then normally re-appointed to that same position; and she finds something interesting in the fact that I was not reappointed. But this is hardly the case at all; so far as I know, not a single member of the USIP board has ever been renominated to the board. She is, in other words, making an issue out of what is simply standard practice.
Further, she quotes me saying, "My time there is finished," but fails to add that I expressed no interest to the Bush administration in being reappointed. I tried to be helpful at U.S. Institute of Peace but it is no secret that I had my frustrations there.
Finally, Kessler missed another detail: had I been Senate confirmed, my full appointment, as announced by the White House, would have gone to Jan. 19, 2005. In contrast, the recess appointment I actually had ended on Jan. 3, 2005, the day that the new session of Congress began. By my count, that's a total of 16 days difference, hardly enough to warrant Kessler's heaving and puffing. (January 14, 2005)
Dec. 1, 2005 update: As they say, "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." Aslam Abdullah magnifies Kessler's error, writing that I was "removed" from the USIP board. Not so, I served out my complete term appointment. Oh, and Abdullah also makes two other mistakes in his few words about me. I was not "elected" as a USIP board member but appointed. I am not a "self-proclaimed Islam-hater" but neutral on the religio of Islam and a self-proclaimed hater of the totalitarian ideology of radical Islam. This last mistake is a bit puzzling, as I explained this distinction at some length at Abdullah's request in his own journal in 2000.
Clash of civilizations? Not only has Thomas E. Woods Jr. written one of the worst histories of the United States in memory (the execrable Politically Incorrect Guide to American History) but he cannot get simple facts about me straight. Writing in that paragon of accuracy and insight, The American Conservative, he describes my vision of the future as one involving "ceaseless war" and a "clash of civilizations." But my work is dedicated precisely to winning the "war on terror," which I do not at all see as a permanent condition. Second, I have explicitly and frequently denounced the "clash of civilization" as inaccurate, both when the idea first surfaced and often since. Here, for example, is a paragraph from an article of mine for the BBC in September 2002:
(Feb. 28, 2005)
Hassan Fouda and the Day: The Middle East and Islam are contentious subjects, and those who disagree with me often spin off into factual errors. I can't fight it all, but sometimes the mistakes are so egregious that I feel compelled to respond.
Such was the case with a malicious paragraph in a Connecticut paper, The Day, on July 24, 2005. The article, "The Real Double Standard On Islam," was by Hassan Fouda, a member of the notorious Al-Awda organization; in the one paragraph about me, Fouda managed to get four facts out of four wrong. I protested to the Day; to my pleasure (and Al-Awda's dismay), the Day published a correction which noted Fouda's "misleading statements and incorrect quotes," then proceeds to give the substance of my letter to set the record right. (Aug. 10, 2005)
The Vietnam War and me: In response to my article today, "Muhammad Ali v. George W. Bush," a Vanity Fair contributing nasty named James Wolcott (known to his friends as "Hurricane Jim,") wrote a blog attacking me and he gets personal, asking where I was during the Vietnam War.
For the record: I was a sophomore in college in April 1969. In December 1969, the first military lottery was held and my birthday landed me with a #263, so I was not drafted. Had I been drafted, I would have fulfilled my obligations. Wolcott implies that I had an obligation to drop out of college and enlist because I supported American efforts to defend South Vietnam from communist tyranny. His logic leads to the absurd conclusion that anyone anywhere who supports a war must enlist to fight it. MSNBC's Joe Scarborough decries (in this month's Vanity Fair) what he calls Wolcott's "gutter reporting"; a reviewer of his latest book, Attack Poodles, condems it a "vicious screed." And I denounce Wolcott's readiness to turn common sense on its head in order to make a partisan point. (Nov. 29, 2005)
Tikkun author ascribes me a made-up quote: Gil Anidjar wrote on p. 27 of the July/August 2005 issue of Tikkun:
I wrote on August 19 to Michael Lerner, the magazine's editor, "I have made a check of my records and of several data bases and find no such statement by me. Mr. Anidjar needs to provide documentation so I can see that I actually said this." Four months later, I have yet to hear back from the author or the editor. (Dec. 19, 2005)
My role in the Danish cartoon affair: There's a conspiracy theory developing about myself and Flemming Rose, the Jyllands-Posten cultural editor who published the famous twelve cartoons of the Muslim prophet. I'll begin with the conspiracy theory (but without providing links or even quotes, as I don't want to send readers to these crackpot websites), and then provide the facts.
The conspiracy theory: Rose came to Philadelphia in October 2004 to see me and we developed a close bond. Then, as a result of this visit, Rose decided to publish the cartoons.
The facts: Rose visited me in my office on October 25, 2004, when he interviewed me for a feature piece on me that he published on October 29 in Jyllands-Posten. The resulting article, "Truslen fra islamismen," can be found on my website, as can a translation of it into English, "The Threat of Islamism." It was a standard interview in which Rose inquired about my views on a variety of questions pertaining to radical Islam. It contains, for example, my signature statement, translated into Danish: "Hvis militant islam er problemet, så må modsætningen, moderat islam, være løsningen." Flemming Rose and I have not written, spoken, or seen each other since that one meeting. I had nothing to do with the decision to commission or publish the cartoons eleven months later and only learned of their existence from press coverage of them. (Feb. 6, 2006)
How important are anti-Islamist Muslims? Andrew Bostom and I both attended the Pim Fortuyn Memorial Conference on Islam in the Hague on February 17-19 but he apparently heard something different from what I said, at least as reported by Jerry Gordon at IsraPundit: "Dan Pipes, Bostom recounted had to admit at the conference that his previous expectations about fostering progressive moderate Muslims may have been in error and that there are minimal numbers of the umma who would fight for internal reformation. or would be marginalized, at best." For the record, I repeated at that conference what I have been saying for years, namely that moderate Muslims "are largely fractured, isolated, intimidated, and ineffectual." There is nothing new here. Further, I continue to see moderate Islam as the solution to radical Islam. (Feb. 20, 2006)
Joel Beinin lies about me: In an interview published in Egypt Today, Beinin states that I "could not get a permanent academic position, despite the fact that his father [allegedly] tried to engineer one for him at Harvard." This brief statement contains two major errors of fact.
Comments: (1) By simply inventing biographical falsehoods about me, Beinin again reveals what a shoddy "scholar" he is.
(2) What relevance my career in the 1970s and early 1980s has to my current work is beyond me. Maybe Beinin's next history project should be to locate and publish my 6th-grade marks?
(3) Once Beinin raises the topic of my early career, how can I resist pointing out that Harvard's doctoral program in history turned him down but awarded me a Ph.D.?
(4) Beinin, like too many American academics, suffers from an advanced case of credentialitis, the disease that places more emphasis on qualifications than achievements. (Nov. 6, 2006)
Me a former CIA agent? That's what Ziauddin Sardar states in an article, "A new McCarthy era dawns in America," in the issue of the New Statesman dated today. He refers to me there as "Daniel Pipes, the former CIA agent who runs the website Campus Watch."
I don't know where he got this idea from but, for the record, I have never been a CIA agent. More precisely, I have never been an employee of the agency, though I have done the odd job for it, such as writing an analysis or giving a talk at headquarters.
That Sardar would write this about me reflects on the shoddiness of his research. (Nov. 13, 2006)
I promote the term "Islamofascism"? John Esposito writes in "Islamophobia" that "Neo-conservative columnists and talk show hosts (Daniel Pipes, Stephen Schwartz, Michael Savage, and Christopher Hitchens) and bloggers have used and promoted the use of Islamofascism."
John, you're a professor, which implies you are supposed to do a smidgen of research before bloviating. In fact, I have never used this term to describe radical Islam, much less promoted it, and in fact have explained in "'At War with Islamic Fascists'" why I find it misleading: "Few historic or philosophic connections exist between fascism and radical Islam. Fascism glorifies the state, emphasizes racial "purity," promotes social Darwinism, denigrates reason, exalts the will, and rejects organized religion – all outlooks anathema to Islamists."
In case anyone's interested in the terms I have used to describe this phenomenon, see my confession at "Coming to Terms: Militant Islam or Radical Islam?" (Nov. 6, 2006)
MEF feel-good billboards? Philip Weiss writes on the New York Observer website, in an article titled "Scott Ritter on 'My Good Friend,' Israel'," that "the Middle East Forum likes to put up feel-good billboards saying, Israel's interest is also the American interest."
As director of the Middle East Forum since its inception, I can categorically make two points:
(Nov. 14, 2006)
Convincing the Palestinians of what? Nirvi Shah of the Miami Herald misreports in "Israel's existence is in peril, expert tells crowd at temple" what I said yesterday at Temple Dor Dorim in Weston, Florida. Shah paraphrases me thus: "Israel must convince the Palestinians that their quest for an independent homeland is futile." No, I say – and say often – that Israel must convince the Palestinians that their quest to destroy Israel is futile. Their quest for an independent homeland is fine with me. I am against their achieving it, however, until they give up trying to eliminate Israel. (Jan. 29, 2007)
I thank Colin Rubenstein, executive director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, for correcting the record in an article in today's Age, "Moderates must not become apologists for radical Islam."
Comment: For non-Aussies, The Australian Oxford Paperback Dictionary (1996) defines furphy as "n.(pl.furphies) 1 a false report or rumour. 2 an absurd story." (Feb. 26, 2007)
May 13, 2007)
Ban Karen Armstrong's writings? Asked in connection with three of her books having been banned in Malaysia, whether this has happened elsewhere, Karen Armstrong responds: "There are people who would love to ban me, such as the neo-conservatives Daniel Pipes or Robert Spencer in the United States."
To which I have this to say: While I think that what Armstrong writes and says about Islam is dreadful (one of her books I described as "a scandalously apologetic and misleading account"), I also believe in the freedom of speech. Hence, I have never hinted that her books, or anyone else's for that matter, should be banned.
Spencer, for his part, replied to her thus: "You can't provide a scrap of evidence for the assertion that I would 'love' to 'ban' you. In fact, I want to debate you. And I am not the one who has turned down opportunities for this to happen, now, am I?"
In other words, what has happened is that I give her a bad review and Armstrong struck back by accusing me of wanting to ban her writings. This low and dishonest calumny fits neatly into Armstrong's vile record. (June 28, 2007)
Advocate racial profiling of Muslims? That's the charge against me by Michiko Kakutani, book reviewer for the New York Times, who describes me en-passant today as "a historian who defended the racial profiling of Muslims." There is just one problem with this know-nothing accusation: Muslims do not constitute a race, so they cannot be racially profiled.
Comment: What has gone wrong with the New York Times, why does it publish such obvious tripe? (October 26, 2007)
Want to deny American Muslims the vote? Juan Cole, who has threatened and defamed me, produces another error today in the Nation, where he refers to me as someone "who has questioned the wisdom of allowing American Muslims to vote." That's such utter and complete nonsense, I don't even know what he might be referring to. (November 19, 2007)
Calling who anti-Semitic? This response by me was published after an article by Steve Hochstadt came out in the History News Network.
(December 11, 2007)
Correcting Richard Silverstein: I point out two mistakes in his latest screed in London's Guardian at "Richard Silverstein Shoots Himself in the Foot."
Obama is currently a Muslim? Ebrahim "Eboo" Patel, a Rhodes Scholar with a doctorate from Oxford University in the sociology of religion, as well as sometime CAIR emcee, writes on the ABC News website, in reference to the New Yorker cover of the Obamas in the Oval Office, that
Sloppy, sloppy, Mr. Patel. First, I did not write about this topic in one essay on my Web site, but in three published articles. More important, here is a quote from each of those three articles on the topic of Obama and Islam, all of which contradict Patel's characterization of my position:
Comment: A Ph.D. from Oxford, writing for ABC News, cannot get rudimentary facts right? It appears that winging it from memory takes the place of research in certain precincts. (July 15, 2008) Jan. 30, 2009 update: Close to a half year later, Patel finally acknowledged his mistake on the same webpage where the original article appeared:
The New Yorker's July 21, 2008, cover, imagining the Obamas celebrating in the Oval Office.
The New Yorker's July 21, 2008, cover, imagining the Obamas celebrating in the Oval Office.
My limited endorsement of Avigdor Lieberman: I wrote on April 2 in connection that the new Israeli foreign minister's maiden speech "leaves me elated" and that "I have had reservations about Lieberman and still do, but this speech has him off to a great start."
In an interview with Jim Besser of the New York Jewish Week on April 6, I reiterated this point, saying that my endorsement was specifically for that one speech, not for "Lieberman's entire career and his corpus of statements."
Unfortunately, the "not" got lost in transmission and Besser quoted me today in an article, "Lieberman Dilemma Deepens For Obama, Jewish Groups" as follows:
I reiterate; the speech was my focus, not Avigdor Lieberman's whole career. (Also, for the record, I am director of the Middle East Forum, not its president.) (April 8, 2009)
The National Jewish Democratic Council's Mistake: I explain at "The National Jewish Democratic Council and Me" how Ira N. Forman confuses two things – my take on Obama's speech in Cairo and his policies toward Israel. (June 26, 2009)
I "lump all Islamists together"?: Fawaz Gerges complains in The National Interest about the formulation of U.S. government policy toward Muslims and writes that
Having founded Islamist Watch in 2007 precisely to distinguish non-violent Islamists from the violent types, as well as written frequently on this topic, one would think Gerges could note that I do emphasize distinctions between Islamists. But why let facts get in the way of an attack? (July 1, 2009)
Linda Sarsour Thinks My Name is PipeLineNews.org: I have some fun at the expense of a New York Islamist at "Popping Linda Sarsour's Balloon." (March 16, 2010)
Akbar Ahmed Stumbles. I respect Akbar Ahmed, currently a professor at American University, who stood by me during my nomination to the U.S. Institute of Peace board and whom I have listed as a moderate Muslim.
But of greater personal concern is his small barrage of mistakes about me, akin to those made by vulgar Islamists and irresponsible left-wing bloggers.
Professor Ahmed has an important voice, which makes it all the more regrettable that he made these gratuitous mistakes. Proper research would have obviated this mess. (June 15, 2010)
David Remnick Gets his Facts Wrong: Responding to Newt Gingrich's comment about Palestinians being an "invented people," the editor of the New Yorker brings up the topic of Joan Peters' 1984 book, From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine. He writes:
Remnick – whose magazine famously fact checks even minuteia – distorts my two separate assessments of the Peters book, from 1984 and 1986 by falsely contrasting them. According to him, I "initially reviewed the book positively" and "later admitted that Peters's work was shoddy and 'ignores inconvenient facts'." By this, Remnick implies that I enthused over the book until Porath and others corrected me.
Not so: the two assessments both agree on two points: that the book is terribly done but that it has a valid and important thesis. Thus, the 1984 review states that
Likewise, the 1986 letter to the editor states that
(December 11, 2011)
Confusing Islam and Islamism as the enemy: Deepa Kumar quotes me on p. 177 of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire (Chicago: Haymarket, 2012) saying that "Like communism during the Cold War, Islam is a threat to the West." But I do not think this way; I only talk about Islamism, not Islam, as the enemy. I looked but find no such statement by me; I challenge Kumar to provide an authoritative reference to my saying or writing this. If she cannot do so, she owes me an apology. (July 1, 2012) Jan. 1, 2013 update: The mischievous attribution has now been quoted in a review by Sean Ledwith in The Arab World 360°. Mar. 22, 2013 update: It is now quoted by Ashley Smith in Dissident Voice.
Max Blumenthal's Shoddy Distortions: Responding to an article in the July 2 & 9, 2012, issue of the Nation magazine, I sent this letter, which the editors (without asking my permission to make changes) toned down in various small ways before publishing it in the Aug. 27 & Sep. 3 issue of the magazine:
(July 27, 2012)
My talk to the Muslim Committee Against Antisemitism: A sympathetic but inaccurate report by Farzana Hassan in the Toronto Sun, "Pipes is tolerated, Geller is not," relates information about a talk I gave and needs to be corrected.
(May 16, 2013)
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