My latest Campus Watch column - posted today at Frontpage Magazine - examines several professors from UCLA's Center for Near Eastern Studies and, as is all too often the case when it comes to Middle East studies, finds them wanting in balance, objectivity, and scholarship:
Earlier this year, the Center for Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. It was founded in 1957 by Gustave E. Von Grunebaum, a scholar at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute and the first president of the Middle East Studies Association. Grunebaum sought to establish at UCLA a groundbreaking Middle East and Islamic Studies program featuring an array of experts in languages, culture, and history.
Unfortunately, the best-known UCLA professors specializing in the region today, far from embodying the classical approach to the discipline in which knowledge is the overriding goal, exemplify the highly politicized world of modern Middle East studies. Ignoring the vast majority of the region and myriad pressing issues, including terrorism, the need for religious reform, women's rights, resistance to modernity, and the prevalence of tyranny, this cadre of Middle East studies professors is fixated instead on post-colonialism, the Arab/Israeli conflict, U.S. foreign policy, and shielding themselves from outside criticism. As pointed out by journalist Rachel Neuwirth, what passes for education at UCLA's Center for Near Eastern studies is, all too often, "sustained academic indoctrination."