In a commentary in the Dec. 1 [Orange County] Register ("Column a slur on Muslim community"), Hussam Ayloush of the Council on American-Islamic Relations attacks me in a way that requires a response. His comments repeat the name-calling that CAIR has

In a commentary in the Dec. 1 [Orange County] Register ("Column a slur on Muslim community"), Hussam Ayloush of the Council on American-Islamic Relations attacks me in a way that requires a response.

His comments repeat the name-calling that CAIR has directed at me in about 100 printed tirades since 1999, continuing its practice of spewing out anything negative it can find about those it disagrees with, no matter how irrelevant or inaccurate.

I write about the Middle East and Islam with an intent to help Americans understand the complexities of these subjects. Toward this end, I emphasize a distinction between Islam the religion and militant Islam the ideology. I respect the former but abominate the latter as a form of totalitarianism. And no matter what CAIR would have you believe, plenty of Muslims - both observant and not - agree with me.

In impugning me, Ayloush quotes a 1983 Washington Post review by Thomas Lippman of a book of mine, In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power, which criticizes aspects of the book. But Ayloush omits the review's positive comments:

Pipes has taken on, and very nearly accomplished, a daunting task: to explain the political and social development of the Muslim peoples from their origins to the present. Pipes, a lecturer in history at Harvard, has produced a brilliant, authoritative, but occasionally infuriating and inconsistent work which demonstrates encyclopedic knowledge of Muslim intellectual history. ... The book is a valuable contribution to our understanding.

Further, the Campus Watch program that I established is hardly the "McCarthyite blacklist" that Mr. Ayloush describes. Instead, it's a constructive effort to critique the failure of Middle Eastern studies at North American universities; readers can judge it for themselves at www.Campus-Watch.org.

Mr. Ayloush heads the Southern California chapter of an organization that has an alarming record of intimidating moderate Muslims, embracing Muslim American murderers and promoting anti-Semitism. CAIR is also on the wrong side in the war on terrorism. A few examples of many:

In October 1998, the group demanded the removal of a Los Angeles billboard describing Osama bin Laden as "the sworn enemy," claiming this depiction was "offensive to Muslims."

CAIR deemed the conviction of the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing "a travesty of justice."

CAIR called the conviction of Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheikh who planned to blow up New York City landmarks, a "hate crime."

When President Bush closed the Holy Land Foundation a year ago for collecting money he said was "used to support the Hamas terror organization," CAIR decried his action as "unjust" and "disturbing."

When evaluating anything CAIR says, readers should keep this organization's history - and demonstrated sympathies - in mind.