Akbar Ahmed and Lawrence Rosen ("Academe's Obligation to Counter Anti-Muslim Sentiment," April 3, 2011) err in describing Campus Watch as hostile to Islam. They write: "Those who speak favorably of Islam come under fire from organizations like Campus Watch, which monitors what professors are saying and applies its substantial resources to challenging the reputations of those with whom it disagrees. This has created an ugly atmosphere on some campuses, as professors teaching courses on Islam may have to worry about how their remarks might be reported and how that may affect their careers."
Campus Watch—a project of the Middle East Forum that monitors Middle East studies—has never critiqued anyone for speaking "favorably of Islam." Doing so would necessitate an attack on Campus Watch's founder, Daniel Pipes, who has for years insisted that "militant Islam is the problem, moderate Islam is the solution." Our critiques are made without regard to religion, race, ethnicity, or nationality.
Moreover, we do not challenge the reputations of professors, per se; we challenge their scholarship and public lectures when they exhibit analytical failures, the mixing of politics with scholarship, intolerance of alternative views, apologetics, and the abuse of power over students.
In their claim that critiquing the scholarship and teaching of professors can create an "ugly atmosphere" on campus, the authors indulge in a favorite pastime of the academic left: claiming the mantle of victimhood when outside groups or individuals dare to question their work. Among the professions, only the denizens of academe claim exemption from criticism. Others of seemingly stouter constitution expect their work to be held to high standards: Lawyers, medical doctors, businessmen, and even politicians rarely swoon and faint in the face of criticism.
Mr. Ahmed and Mr. Rosen make their claims under the banner of tolerance—of fighting anti-Muslim sentiment. Their charges might be more convincing if the authors refused to engage in precisely the kind of small-minded bigotry they decry.
Middle East Forum