Campus Watch adjunct scholar Jonathan Schanzer poses that question in his latest article, published yesterday at The American Thinker. Did the subjects treated by some panels at the latest conference of the Middle East Studies Association demonstrate some progress in Campus Watch's longstanding efforts to bring intellectual diversity to the field?
Here is Schanzer's introduction:
In recent years, Campus Watch (CW) analysts have leveled a barrage of criticism against the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) as a bastion of groupthink for scholar-activists peddling a politicized agenda. CW's current director, Winfield Myers, noted that its "reputation has been shattered by years of politicized scholarship, one-sided teaching, and bullying students." Jonathan Calt Harris, formerly with CW, called the organization a "hive of academic opposition to America, Israel, and, in the larger sense, rationalism itself." After years of responding to such criticism with cries of "McCarthyism," MESA just might be owning up to a few of its failures.
The 2008 MESA conference, held in Washington, DC in November, consisted of 12 sessions over four days with more than 1,500 scholars and professionals in attendance.
In recent years, even after the 9/11 attacks, MESA has failed to offer useful information on the Middle East and Islam and almost completely ignored American national security issues. Not surprisingly, critics charged that MESA was increasingly irrelevant.
This year, MESA actually hosted several panels to correct the problem. Indeed, MESA's 2008 lineup reflected real improvements from 2007. Though few in number, there are positive indications that MESA may grasp, at least in some small way, why critics charge that the field has become a den of corruption and activism posing as scholarship.
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