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Daniel Pipes misrepresents Sadowski's remarks and his own views

Reader comment on item: The Problem with Middle East Studies

Submitted by Tim Wilkinson (United Kingdom), Jul 14, 2008 at 22:31

First, lets be clear that this Halabi character is clearly in the wrong and displays appalling scholarship - first in relying on a secondary source, then by altering the quote so as to change its meaning. It's hard to see how it could be an honest mistake. If his remarks about subjectivity etc are correctly reported, then he also intellectually bankrupt. If Pipes stuck to criticising Halabi, that would be fair enough.

But he doesn't restrict himself to that - he attacks Sadowski, who doesn't misrepresent Pipes at all. He states that certain new arguments - part, he claims, of a neo-orientalist trend - say not only what Pipes says - i.e. (in my words) that muslim countries are uniquely terroristic and undemocratic - but also that this is an immutable fact about islam. Pipes himself aggravates his false account of the import of Sadowksi's comments by bolding both the quote and a fragment of the surrounding statement as though they formed a unified and discrete whole.

As for Pipes's protests about his own views, he claims: "I see the Muslim world as changing and avoid extrapolations from present-day circumstances to the future. I make a point not to say something will "always" be a certain way."

But in the same essay he complains was misrepresented, only three short paragraphs after the comments under dispute, he states: "Muslims are not now politically unified and never will be so."

Pipes's protests would be more convincing if he could avoid misrepresentation himself.


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Daniel Pipes replies:

I stand by my analysis of Sadowski. I bolded his words as well as mine because it they contribute integrally to distorting my meaning.

As for "never" and "always" - I do make a point to avoid such formulations, but when it comes to the notion of over a billion Muslims unifying into a single polity, I feel on safe ground saying this will never happen. Who will gainsay centuries of history and contradict me on this one?

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