Assemblyman Chuck DeVore plans to monitor the lecture of a controversial Middle Eastern scholar tonight at UC Irvine.
DeVore, who has frequently criticized radical Islamic speakers at UCI, wants to be there if protesters shout down Daniel Pipes as they did earlier this year when he appeared on campus. Pipes, who speaks frequently on Israel and what he believes is a pro-Palestinian slant in academia, was invited to the campus by the UCI College Republicans.
"When other speakers have come on campus from the Muslim Student Union, you haven't seen people disrupting the speech," he said. "What I would expect in an academic institution is that a variety of views [could be expressed] without being disrupted and shouted down."
Pipes is the President of Campus Watch, a group that purports to specialize in "[reviewing] and [critiquing] Middle East studies in North America, with an aim to improving them." Critics allege that Pipes runs a modern-day academic blacklist that aims to stifle criticism of Israel through well-funded libel campaigns.
DeVore said he saw no problem with Pipes's tactics, which have previously included collecting dossiers on "anti-American" professors and encouraging students to contact the organization with "reports" on them.
"The asylum is being run by the inmates, in the case of higher learning – I mean, come on," DeVore said. "The days when the academy was balanced intellectually are long gone. If the mainstream of the academy is already considered far-left, then perhaps we should have some outside review, some watchdogs looking at this."
Juan Cole, a professor of Middle Eastern History at the University of Michigan, was one of seven academics in 2002 to be identified as an "un-American" professor by Campus Watch, and says Pipes's tactics are hardly scholarly.
"He has advocated sort of spying on academics, compiling dossiers on them, and using the dossiers to have them blackballed," he said in a telephone interview. "They try to intervene if someone gets an outside offer in order to have a deleterious effect on their careers."
"Politicians get criticized, athletes get criticized, actors get criticized, and journalists get criticized – why are professors immune to criticism?" he said in response to claims that he had a chilling effect on campus speech.
"The things that Pipes has said that strike me as objectionable are, for example, that it would be dangerous if American Muslims were enfranchised," Cole said, referring to remarks Pipes made in 2002.
"I think that, you know, someone who worries about people achieving basic civil rights in society doesn't seem to have a large commitment to intellectual freedom."
Pipes' lecture will begin at 6:30 p.m. in ballroom D of the student center.