A lecturer speaking on campus tonight has agreed to change a Web site that he is affiliated with after complaints caused controversy with professors.
Daniel Pipes, an expert on the Middle East, Islamic militant movements and terrorism will lecture on "Militant Islam Reaches America" at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History tonight.
Pipes is the director of the Middle East Forum, which describes itself as a think tank working to define and promote American interests in the Middle East.
The Middle East Forum has been running a Web site called Campus Watch. Campus Watch monitors the way Middle Eastern and Islamic issues are discussed in colleges and universities.
A group of 19 OU history professors and the Arab Student Association each sent a letter to The Oklahoma Daily speaking out against Campus Watch. The letters run on today's opinion page.
According to the professors' letter, the site contained dossiers on leading scholars who are suspected of having an anti-Israeli bias. The professors said this inhibited the exchange of ideas and beliefs.
"A university is supposed to stand for free inquiry," history professor Donald Pisani said.
An announcement on the Campus Watch Web site today on Monday said the dossiers would be eliminated.
"We launched the site to draw attention to the condition of Middle Eastern studies," Pipes was quoted on the Web site as saying. "But rather than address the problems we raise, Middle East specialists - joined by their colleagues in other fields - have talked about nothing but the format of the site. We have made this change to show our goodwill."
Catherine Kelly, assistant history professor, said the professors first heard about Campus Watch from a list-serv that several of them subscribe to. Kelly, along with several of the other professors, said she's glad Pipes is coming, but just didn't approve of Campus Watch.
"I think the kinds of things Dr. Pipes is going to talk about are very timely, and he's very knowledgeable about this subject," Kelly said. "It's the other part that I don't support at all."
Stephen H. Norwood, professor of history and Judaic studies, said Pipes' new book, also titled "Militant Islam Reaches America," is an important book about the issues now confronting America.
"Dr. Pipes was one of the few scholars or commentators who publicly warned long before Sept. 11, 2001, that 'militant Islam had gone to war against America,' and that 'its legions [were] already present in the West," Norwood said.
Pipes has written eleven books, most of which concentrate on the Middle East. He has appeared on several television shows, including ABC World News, Crossfire and Nightline, to discuss current issues, according to his Web site. He is also a columnist for The New York Post and the Jerusalem Post.
Pipes' lecture will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Kerr Auditorium of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. It is being sponsored by the Judaic Studies Program and the Department of History.