Re: The Rot in Our Universities, Daniel Pipes, Jan. 30.
The events reported by Dr. Pipes are truly appalling to anyone who cares about traditional academic values of fairness, free speech and hearing both sides of a question. It is bizarre that anyone should be accused of racism for defending Israel in the academic forum, 50 years after Israel was established by the United Nations.
For what it is worth, I have read many of Dr. Pipes's articles and once heard him speak. Nothing he has said could remotely be understood as racism. He is a critic of what he and others have called Islamofascism, but in no way of Islam itself or of the peoples who embrace it. He also criticizes those academics who present Islam as if Islamofascism did not exist, thus giving a warped picture of the current state of the religion.
Who are the real racists here? Perhaps those who uncritically condemn Israel and, by extension, the Jewish people, apparently in the name of the ideology of Marxism, discredited as a politico-economic system, but continuing to exercise a surprising hold on the minds of academic theorists. As the French philosopher Raymond Aron said, Marxism is truly the opium of the intellectuals. If they would devote a small amount of the time they spend on ideological theorizing to researching the facts of the Middle East conflict, they might discover that Israel's case is far stronger than they have chosen to believe.
Would an academic critic of Israel have received the same treatment as Dr. Pipes? I think not.
William Nicholls, professor emeritus of religious studies
University of British Columbia, Vancouver