Readers have been weighing in on the Middle East studies professors featured in recent Campus Watch articles or blog posts (as well as a few new names) with some enlightening stories of their own. With their permission, we are reprinting several of them below:
In response to "Joel Beinin To Head PSU's Middle East Studies Center?":
Re: "In addition, Beinin, along with other Middle East studies academics, has been involved in contributing to the production of biased and inaccurate history textbooks for use in K-12 public education."
Beinin's "inaccurate" presentations are not limited to K-12. A few years ago, I took a one week online course at the college level sponsored by several respected universities, one of which employed Professor Beinin. The lectures were transcribed. Beinin was unavailable to the students, but an "assistant professor" ran the course.
Although he has been in the field for over 25 years, as I understand it, Beinin's lectures, which were clearly biased, were riddled with outright, and easily verifiable, inaccuracies. Repeated errors from someone who has been in the field as long as Beinin raises very serious questions about his honesty, not to mention his qualifications to teach.
One inexcusable misstatement was that hardly any Latin American countries voted in favor of the creation of the state of Israel. This is patently untrue, and when I cut and pasted the actual U.N. vote into the online discussion board, the teaching assistant running the course, who was a professor at another school, could only respond, and I quote, "Hmmmm."
Beinin presented reading materials by Israeli historians whose books contradicted the history of Israel's founding. Even though these same historians later wrote books that retracted much of the original material (based on further research), Beinin never based any of the course on the later books.
Even more egregiously, this introductory course made no mention that Israel had been attacked by surrounding Arab countries immediately after having declared herself a state. Thus, students were led to believe that the land seized as a result of this war, and any harm that befell the Palestinians, was purely gratuitous and the result of illegal aggression.
My heart bleeds for Portland and the innocent minds about to be corrupted.
In response to both "Joel Beinin To Head PSU's Middle East Studies Center?" and "Esposito at Stanford":
Re: "Esposito's treatment of two self-described Arab Christian students in the audience further revealed this bias. When asked about the well-documented violence against Christians in Iraq and the persecution of Christians throughout the Muslim world, Esposito resorted at first to obfuscation and then bullying. After trying to chalk up the violence merely to 'primitive' behavior, he cut off one young woman angrily, telling her that it was 'an absurd question.'"
I've been to several of these things (the worst being the Finklestein extravaganza also at Stanford). These guys have the floor. They control the Mike. They can sound professorial and impressive. Sometimes, however, I have seen these folks lose composure, and with it their credibility.
Once I was at a Joel Benin lecture. I asked a question he did not like, and pointed out his unfair presentation. He lost it. He went berserk. His face turned red. He shouted at me in front of the audience. His exact words (I remember it like it was yesterday) were: "Who are you? Who are you? You are a nothing! I am a professor! You can only have an opinion! I have knowledge!"
San Mateo, CA
In response to "Esposito at Stanford":
Your Esposito article was fantastic and I loved it. I'm a sophomore at a private liberal arts college in Iowa, and I am so sick and tired of hearing apologists tell me how white Christians have caused every problem in the world, from global warming to illiteracy, without reference made to the blatant violence in Islam.
Melba Patillo Beals [department chair and assistant professor of communications at Dominican University of California], the speaker at our opening convocation last semester, was particularly terrible. She had written a book read by the freshmen, something to do with education, but launched into a self-righteous sermon about the fact that terrorists are misunderstood. She then used the example of a suicide bomber who killed American soldiers to illustrate how strong Islam makes people.
I was so angry, I refused to clap. I couldn't believe the woman had the gall to praise a murderer (my brother is a Marine; this is someone who would have killed him) and say that this was in any way a good thing. It's lunacy and incredibly offensive to anyone who takes this seriously.
The college refused to release the recording of her speech to the school newspaper's right-wing columnist! They must have realized how bad it sounded to sane people. Luckily, I have a well-placed friend in the recording booth who got me a copy that I was able to pass on. But it's so frustrating to see that these people are still respected. That woman got a standing ovation.