I am writing to share my great pride in Stanford for being one of the universities listed by Campus Watch for our supposed "anti-Israel and anti-American bias." When a university is targeted by thought-control outfits like Campus Watch, we must be doing something right.
I can understand why neo-conservatives like Daniel Pipes — who is so "unbiased" as to refer to our European allies' objections to Bush's war drive as an infantile disorder — would get so nervous. After all, Stanford has had demonstrations on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as counter-demonstrations, which have been peaceful and informative. We have even had one demonstration at the end of which both sides joined together in a call for mutual understanding and peace. That must be a very upsetting example of "extremism" to Campus Watch.
Faculty hold many different views on the Middle East crisis. Prof. Joel Beinin's opinions are well-known, and he is always upsetting conventional pro-Israel attitudes. However, his many peer-reviewed books on Egyptian Jews, Arab workers, peasant movements, Israeli politics and other topics which have been published by major university presses must strike Campus Watch as terribly "shoddy." The fact that he is president of the Middle East Studies Association must be evidence that the entire field is fraught with "extremism and intolerance" in their eyes. I can't imagine what Daniel Pipes and his friends will say when Stanford launches its Islamic studies curriculum.
The fact is that slander and thought-control operations are all attempts to scare people away from independent thought and dissent. Academic freedom preserves that independence, and I trust that the Stanford community will uphold those standards. So, we should be proud to be targeted by such people — it means that those who actually wish to undermine our values are so desperate that they have to resort to scare tactics. Soon, perhaps, there will be watchdog groups keeping track of the views of professors in our economics department on international trade, in our medical school on stem-cell research, and in our English department on the proper use of the subjunctive. If that were the case, I would be delighted.
Assoc. Director of
Undergraduate Research Programs for Honors Writing