The following text has been edited to remove references to personal identity and to correct spelling errors - no other changes have been made.
Date: Sat, 18 Jan 2003 23:47:48
During the last two days I have received a number of e-mails concerning the listing of YCISS as
a co-sponsor of the guest lecture to be offered on January 28th by Dr Daniel Pipes. When I was approached by a representative of Jewish Campus Services of Greater Toronto, I took the information provided, including Daniel Pipes' website http://www.danielpipes.org/ which provides full details of his scholarship as well as his related professional—including political—activities, and circulated it to colleagues on our Operations Committee requesting their views on whether we should agree to co-sponsor. None suggested we not, and based on that I indicated that we would co-sponsor. I also indicated that were Pipes available for a private discussion prior to his 2:00PM lecture, faculty and graduate students might well be interested. The Operations Committee agreed then to inquire who among those at YCISS would be interested in
meeting with Pipes over an informal lunch. Now it seems that some combination of his work as a widely regarded albeit controversial scholar (on Middle East politics and on Islamic fundamentalism) and his more recent activism concerning the politicization of Mideast and US foreign policy issues on campuses primarily in the United States has raised a storm of concern. Of particular dislike is his leadership in something called Campus Watch which purports both to critique Mideast-related scholarship, especially from within the US university community, and to identify those who claim or call for
or in other ways indicate support for extremist actions, oftentimes including suicide bombing. This has been reported widely and Pipes and others with whom he works have been prepared to respond in print, through TV interviews, and in lectures. One of the articles currently circulating was written in The Nation http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20021125&s=mcneil and as I
have been led to understand is one of the principal reasons that people are opposing his visit. Pipes and others have responded to that article. For now, my response to those who have contacted me has focused on the following few points:
• so long as he is here to offer an academic lecture and is prepared to be engaged in questions and answers, then as far as I can tell his work deserves examination;
• that our co-sponsorship, which involves no financial or any other material support, does not in any way indicate endorsement of or support for his views;
• that his work not only is widely recognized, but it does represent a widely recognized set of views held by other acknowledged scholars and experts;
• that his political efforts as an extension of his research and related academic and scholarly work, are a reflection of the current environment, and are certainly no worse and probably much less destructive than the concerted effort by many European and North American scholars and universities to boycott Israeli academics, Israeli universities, and those who are seen to be connected or sympathetic with them, Jewish or not; -- that I assume were he to be challenged on those political activities during his visit to York, he would respond and engage the discussion just as he will on other issues raised in his lecture or in the materials available to the public through his website;
• that were I approached, as director of YCISS, to consider the same kind of support for other scholars on Mideast or Arab or Islamic politics whose views were substantially different but not less provocative nor politicized (e.g., Edward Said) I'd both follow the same path (i.e., distribute the information to the Operations Committee for their views and decision) and hope that the idea of the university as a place for reasoned albeit at times passionate debate would lead to a similar decision.
So, this is the situation we now face. I have been "warned" that I and YCISS could be the
target of some strong, possibly very strong, actions taken by people at York University. I've informed the chair and vice-chair of Senate as well as the Secretary of the University about this, and copied them on my responses. I've indicated that the principle of the University serving as a forum for debate and reasoned and reasonable exchanges of views, often strongly contested, should not mean that it degrades into personal vilification or into a Concordia-like environment. That said, I really have no idea what will happen.
I serve as the director of YCISS, and in that capacity while I am responsible for the
direction of the Centre my personal views are less important than those of my colleagues who, ultimately, must determine the preferred course of action and without whose support I could not be director. I don't like to be intimidated, whether over political correctness or anything else, but I also don't wish to see YCISS seriously harmed by the actions of others. I also am prepared to admit errors in judgment if that turns out to be the case. Therefore, I would ask that as soon as possible each of you let me—and, should you wish, others—know of what you believe to be the appropriate course of action. Should substantial numbers of you desire that YCISS formally rescind its co-sponsorship of the Pipes event, then I will arrange to do so. Should you wish that we continue our co-sponsorship, then that too will occur. In either situation, in an appropriate way I will try to ensure that YCISS' interests are protected and sustained. On a personal note, I would remind those who have assumed that our decision to co-sponsor this event was as a result of my intervention and pressure, that obviously this was not the case. I did consult with the appropriate YCISS unit—our Operations Committee. Moreover, my own
earlier scholarship in this area has focused on conflict management, confidence and security building between Israelis and Palestinians, various track two efforts, and even an article, published in 1982, arguing for a unilateral withdrawal by Israel from the West Bank and Gaza and the creation of a Palestinian political unit, the character of which should be left up to the Palestinians. That, surely, does not place me in the same camp as Daniel Pipes. I'd be most grateful if each of you could take the time to contact me about this, and should you wish, feel free to send your comments to everyone else on this e-mail list as well as others relevant to the affairs of York University.
With thanks, David
Date: Sun, 19 Jan 2003 11:49:58
I am sorry that I have not got back to you earlier. I think you have followed the correct process and that your reasons for making your decision are clearly stated and very defensible. I do not think that you should change your mind under this or any kind of pressure. The core of the controversy seems to be Campus Watch and the charges that this is a McCarthyite organization out to intimidate faculty and possibly get them fired and not Pipes' stand on the Middle East, though they are clearly related. First, the charges that Campus Watch is even worse than any McCarthyite organization is not an established fact but a controversial issue in which Pipes should have an opportunity to defend himself. Second, there is no evidence that he preaches racism or hatred. Thirdly, he is accused of setting up Campus Watch (campuswatch.org) as an organization designed to monitor academic speech on campus that is subversive, i.e., anti-Israeli or anti-American. Gabriel Piterberg, an Argentine-born Israeli who came to America a number of years ago, and is now a professor of Middle Eastern history at UCLA originally, I believe, levelled the charge that the web site of Campus Watch, "is a black
list of professors whose views are unpalatable to the pro-Israeli lobby and to the current
administration," and that it encourages professors and students "to spy and report on
what...potential suspects do in class and publish."
But that is not what Campus Watch says it is doing at all. According to the Campus Watch site, "CAMPUS WATCH, a project of the Middle East Forum, monitors and critiques Middle East studies in North America, with an aim to improving them. The project mainly addresses five problems: analytical failures, the mixing of politics with scholarship, intolerance of alternative views, apologetics, and the abuse of power over students. Campus Watch fully respects the freedom of speech of those it debates while insisting on its own freedom to comment on their words and deeds." This seems to be the opposite of what the accusers assert and, in fact, a projection onto Campus Watch of what campus watch appears to be attacking. But perhaps there is a difference between what Pipes says Campus Watch is about and what it is about. So I researched the site.
What I found was that it published its own views but that of its critics as well. When it criticized, it quoted from the authors. As one example on that site, in his controversy with Ayloush (Hussam Ayloush of the Council on American-Islamic Relations) who accuses Pipes of establishing a "McCarthyite blacklist", Pipes claims that "Mr. Ayloush heads the Southern California chapter of an organization that has an alarming record of intimidating moderate Muslims, embracing Muslim American murderers and promoting anti-Semitism. CAIR is also on the wrong side in the war on terrorism." and cites the following examples:
1. In October 1998, the group demanded the removal of a Los Angeles billboard describing Osama bin Laden as "the sworn enemy," claiming this depiction was "offensive to Muslims."
2. CAIR deemed the conviction of the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing "a travesty of justice."
3. CAIR called the conviction of Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheikh who planned to blow up New York City landmarks, a "hate crime."
4. When President Bush closed the Holy Land Foundation a year ago for collecting money he said was "used to support the Hamas terror organization," CAIR decried his action as "unjust" and "disturbing."
The issue is not whether I agree with Pipes on CAIR or not; the issue is whether Pipes is a McCarthyite in pointing out to assertions that Ayloush and an organization he heads makes. I think not. I have done the same on an individual basis with a colleague whose initial presentation I respected and then discovered that he headed an organization that contained and propagated what I considered hatred against Jews. Pipes seemed to me to be doing what I did on a more systematic basis. In one of the e-mails to you, Pipes' organization is accused of being "involved in actively campaigning in the USA to stop funding to the Middle East Studies Association, a very important forum that brings together academics working on issues related to the Middle East."
[The Middle East Studies Association, founded in 1966, now has 2600 members and is an
"international organization for those involved in the study of the Middle East.] Well I checked the site. On it I found that the site contained a summary of a debate on MESA held in November at The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Martin Kramer, the Institute's Wexler-Fromer fellow and author of its 2001 monograph Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America, led the attack on MESA for "failing to explain or anticipate change in the region they purport to study" as "the result of their lack of intellectual distance, as well as the field's subversion by ideologically driven or faddish paradigms" and its intense "groupthink" that led to it excluding "external evidence," compounded by what Kramer believed
was a "general tendency in the humanities and social sciences to substitute advocacy for
scholarship." Kramer accused MESA of being responsible for promoting intellectual conformity, intellectual incest and excluding the systematic study of the more extreme varieties of Islamism and anodyne analyses of its other varieties. In particular, Kramer criticized MESA for awarding Edward Said the first international award for "outstanding contribution to Middle Eastern studies," and Columbia University for endowing a chair in Middle Eastern history in his name because "Middle Eastern studies was not Said's academic field, but rather his arena of political advocacy." and that this amounted to "a collective endorsement of his politics and of the confusion of scholarship and activism that he [Said] has come to personify." Kramer then went on to criticize Congress for dumping more funds into Middle East Studies without insisting on reform in a field which Kramer accused of being at "an intellectual dead end" but which is,
nevertheless, getting enormous funding and huge numbers of appointments. Kramer advocates the creation of an oversight board." which can be seen to be and could be endorsing political interference in an arena of academic professionalism.
Lisa Anderson, Dean of International Affairs at Columbia (the university where Edward Said teaches and that set up the endowed chair in middle eastern studies in his name), and who succeeded Beinin as MESA's president, provided a response to Kramer's charges agreeing with critics that, while much of Kramer's criticisms in his book were valuable and that there was a widespread consensus in intellectual circles that there were problems in Middle eastern studies, the case was overstated by Kramer. She went on to suggest that the marginalization of Middle eastern studies reflected a wider controversy over the role of the university vis a vis society. In her words, "The original purpose of American universities was threefold: the education of children; the pursuit of research and the creation of what is now referred to as "new knowledge"; and the creation of citizens and the informing of public debate," functions which have atrophied in part as research became more specialized and think tanks proliferated at universities where
they are often "blinkered by peer review" which she blamed for narrowing fields and reinforcing conformity, and outside universities where the scholars engaged in the wider marketplace of ideas and public debate and the creation of an informed citizenry but lacked a systematic device for accountability. Middle Eastern studies was but one version of this dilemma and was no more incestuous than any other. As she said, "Some of those within the field do in fact disagree profoundly over analytical perspectives and government policy, generating many productive and passionate debates about the diagnoses and prescriptions for the problems of the Middle East,"
but granted that "the study of terrorism per se has not been a priority," but defended the right of scholars to study what they believe to be compelling issues.
Whatever position one might take on such a debate, if one even wants to take a position, and whatever analysis and explanation one wants to make of the state of and explanation for middle east studies, I did not see that even Kramer was "involved in actively campaigning in the USA to stop funding to the Middle East Studies Association," but was rather advocating reform of middle east studies before pouring additional funds into the field, a very different position, and even if one is very critical of Kramer, as an intellectual he is quite free to participate in debates over priorities and criteria for funding scholarship and research. I myself found the summary of Lisa Anderson to be more even handed and liked that she wanted to explain the problems and not
just level attacks. In any case, the site stimulated thought and disagreement and I regarded it as part of the panoply of debate over public policy in funding research.
Even Leslie Carbone's (she is the former executive director of Accuracy In Academia, and author of the forthcoming Slaying Leviathan: The Moral Case for Tax Reform) much more vitriolic and personal attack on MESA in her article, "Terror's Academic Sympathizers," (on the site) directed at the heads of MESA and at the American government for using taxes to support professors in Middle East Studies programs who openly sympathize with al-Qaeda's "position", criticizes MESA for neglecting humanities and the study of languages in middle east studies and stressing politics. In that stress, she claimed that almost all of their political analyses were dead wrong. In particular she attacked former MESA president and director of Georgetown University's Center for Christian-Muslim Understanding John Esposito, for arguing that Americans needed to "transcend their narrow, ethnocentric conceptualization of democracy" in order to embrace "Islamic democracy", which, "though unlike the Westminster model or the
American system", could still prove capable of forging "effective systems of popular
participation" and for forecasting that the nineties would "be a decade of new alliances and alignments in which the Islamic movements will challenge rather than threaten their societies and the West". She also attacked MESA member, Fawaz Gerges, a Sarah Lawrence professor specializing in international relations of the Arab world, for his condemnation, six months before 9/11, of "the terrorist industry" that strikes "fear and horror in the American psyche". In March 2001, Gerges wrote: "Should not observers and academics keep sceptical about the U.S. government's assessment of the terrorist threat? To what extent do terrorist ‘experts' indirectly perpetuate this irrational fear of terrorism by focusing too much on farfetched horrible scenarios? Does the terrorist industry, consciously or unconsciously, exaggerate the nature and degree of the terrorist threat to American citizens?" A third attack was levelled at Stanford University professor of Middle East History Joel Beinin (who became head of MESA ten weeks after 9/11) for his speech, "Why do they hate us?" and his explanation in terms of the "sight of
American-supplied F-16 fighters and Apache helicopters bombing civilian targets", U.S.
sanctions against Iraq, and, of course, U.S. support of Israel, which has engaged in a 34-year "occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem" that employed
"disproportionate … force in attempting to suppress the Palestinian uprising over the last year". She attacked Georgetown's Michael Hudson for equating American "state terrorism" with the actions of Osama bin Laden when Hudson declared, "We have not shown that our actions differentiate us from those who attacked us." In another article on the site, Beinin is labelled as belonging "to the far-left, blame-America-first, Zionism-is-colonialism school." At another point in the site, Kramer accuses Joel Beinin, Beshara Doumani of UC Berkeley, Zachary Lockman and Timothy Mitchell of New York University, Gabi Piterberg of UC Los Angeles, Glenn E. Robinson of the Naval Postgraduate School, Ted Swedenburg of the University of Arkansas, and Judith Tucker of Georgetown University of signing a letter accusing Israel of planning the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians after the Saddam Hussein regime is overturned. Laurie Brand of the University of Southern California, who is now president-elect of MESA, and Ilan Pappe of Haifa University are the only individuals that I personally know who are criticized for signing the letter and I have not contacted them, but I am sure that both Laura and Ilan do not object to being criticized for their views or consider this as blacklisting. They can both take as well as they can give and are quite confidant is standing up for what they believe. At another location on the site, MESA is criticized for its invective against and denunciations of David Satterfield, the No. 2 man in Washington's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, who, in addressing them at their conference in Washington, said that while recognizing that Palestinians
have suffered greatly and deserve an independent state, argued that Palestinians have no future unless they renounce terrorism and that suicide attacks against Jewish civilians make it difficult for Israel to believe its neighbors want peace, while also damaging Arab interests globally. The site did not credit MESA with inviting Satterfield in the first place. And I cannot tell whether the vituperation levelled against him was widespread, but that is the only kind of criticisms that would concern me, and not that the site made this claim. Does the site target numerous well-known and respected scholars writing on the Middle East like John Esposito and Edward Said for which Pipes is accused? Yes it does. Are these attacks McCarthyite? They may be biassed and polemical and I may disagree with them, but I did not find them to be McCarthyite.For example, the site particularly targets Central Connecticut State University for financially supporting middle eastern studies that are biassed citing a "one-sided and extremist summer
teachers' institute held at CCSU in July 2002, funded in part by a $24,832 grant from the U.S. Department of Education," in which "speakers presented a distinctly one-sided view of the Arab-Israeli conflict," focused on "Israel's state-sponsored terrorism characterized by Richard Benfield, a CCSU professor of history, as "more inflammatory than informative" and efforts to bring in speakers to present a more centrist perspective were apparently blocked. The attack was for the courses lack of balance and failure to present different sides of the issue. Secondly, CCSU was attacked because it appointed Norton Mezvinsky to a new and prestigious "Connecticut State University Professorship" as "a signal honor, reserved for faculty members who fulfill the highest ideals of outstanding teaching, scholarly achievement and public service," but is known for his joint publication with the late Israel Shahak, of Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel, (Pluto Press, 1999) which argues that Judaism is a religion of racism "comparable to the
worst form of anti-Semitism" whose adherents believe "the blood of non-Jews has no intrinsic value." I have not read the Mezvinsky/Shahak book so I do not know whether the quote is either accurate or representative, but having just returned from a conference in Thailand on forced migration where I presented a paper, and two audience members stood up to denounce Israel as a racist and even genocidal state in a context in which the comments did not even have any relevance to the papers being presented by the panel, I am personally appalled at this degeneration in academic discourse. If scholars are being honored who articulate what I believe is nonsense and defamatory, then I join in disagreeing with the giving of academic awards and honors to such scholars and do not think that I am being a McCarthyite in so doing. In sum, I do not see that the site advocates or offers a blacklist or advocates "spying" but does engage in ardent critiques (whether fair or justified is another matter) on material that has been published and is clearly, at the very least, a matter of debate. Evidently, Daniel Pipes was recently disinvited under pressure from speaking at two academic institutions. One does not have
to agree with Pipes. One has to acknowledge that he is intellectually controversial. But I see no evidence of hate speech, every sense of his respecting hearing the other side and advocating that all sides be heard. Quite aside from any views I might have of Pipes, I not only think that you should not back down on co-sponsoring that event, but would argue, based on the evidence that I have looked at, that it is an excellent idea to co-sponsor his speaking and that, if we can get Lisa Anderson or Laurie Brand to come, we should also sponsor or co-sponsor her talk. On the evidence of the Campus watch site, the charges made against it are erroneous and misplaced and I would argue guilty of the very defamation that Pipes is, based on the evidence I looked at, not guilty of, again, whatever I think of his position; Pipes appears to be a defender not a repressor of free speech. Secondly, I applaud your resolve not to back down in the face of any intimidation
or threatened protests or criticisms if academia is to stand for reasoned discourse and debate. If you did give in, that would be a real case of blacklisting. Let us look at the material on sites critical of Pipes. The site, Israel Lobby Watch, attacks Pipes for allegedly McCarthyite tactics. Does it present evidence to support its claims? Prof. M. Shahid Alam on the site accuses campus watch of "a serious challenge, indeed, an affront, to academic freedom and freedom of speech in United States" because campus watch may [its verb] encourage students to "enlist in your class to harass you," ignoring the fact that campus watch vociferously insists that speakers not be harassed and that Alam admits that this has never happened to him. The only time he cites for indicating any repression of free speech and that he does not connect to campus watch is that Alam was criticized by individual colleagues "(very few so far), who have emailed my chair to complain about a public lecture I gave with references to Israel," a serious issue if they did not air their differences with him first, but then I do not know nor are we given the background. In any case, there is no evidence of repression of free speech or of any link with Campus Watch. As I read that site, it is the one engaged in misrepresentation. In another piece by Nigel Parry and Ali Abunimah, they accuse Pipes and Kramer of making "blanket statements encouraging suspicion and sometimes outright hostility towards Arabs and Muslims in the US and the Arab world." As I have read Pipes and Kramer only on this site, I saw no general attacks on Moslems and Arabs but, in fact, the conventional distinction between radical and extremist Islamicists and Islam, though one article of Pipes that I read, if I remember it correctly, argued that it was disingenuous to detach extremist Islamicism from its connection to Islam, particularly fundamentalist Islam, and he accuse fundamentalist Islam of covertly supporting terror. What evidence do Parry and Abuminah cite for their charges? They accuse Pipes of casting the leaders of "most of the Muslim institutions in the United States" as un-American and alien elements with a secret plan to "make the United States a Muslim country" (It Matters What Kind of Islam
Prevails, by Daniel Pipes, Los Angeles Times, 22 July 1999.) But if you read the article. Pipes says no such thing. And they provide no quotes to back up their accusation. What Pipes says is that, "American Muslims—immigrants and native-born converts alike—look at the United States in one of two predominant ways. Members of one group, the integrationists, have no problem being simultaneously patriotic Americans and committed Muslims. Symbolic of this positive outlook on the United States, the Islamic Center of Southern California displays an American flag. These integrationists insist that the West's norms—neighborly relations, diligence on the job, honesty—are essentially what Islam teaches. Conversely, they present Islam as the fulfillment of American values and see Muslims as a very positive force to improve America. As one integrationist put it, to be a good Muslim, you have to be a good American and vice versa. Or, as the American black leader W. Deen Mohammed put it, "Islam can offer something to the West, rather than represent a threat to the West." Integrationists accept that the United States will never become a Muslim country and are reconciled to living within a non-Islamic framework; they call for Muslims to immerse themselves in public life to make themselves both useful and influential.
In contrast, chauvinists aspire to make the United States a Muslim country, perhaps along the Iranian or Sudanese models. Believing that Islamic civilization is superior to anything American, they promote Islam as the solution to all of the country's ills. In the words of their leading theorist, Ismail Al-Faruqi, "Nothing could be greater than this youthful, vigorous and rich continent [of North America] turning away from its past evil and marching forward under the banner of Allahu Akbar [God is great]." Or, in the words of a teacher at the Al-Ghazly Islamic School in Jersey City, N.J., "Our short-term goal is to introduce Islam. In the long term, we must save American society. Allah will ask why I did not speak about Islam, because this piece of land is Allah's property." Some of this ilk even talk about overthrowing the U.S. government and replacing it with an Islamic one. Although it sounds bizarre, this attitude attracts serious and widespread support among Muslims, some of whom debate whether peaceful means are sufficient or whether violence is a necessary option. (Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the World Trade Center bombing figure, clearly belongs among those who believe violence is necessary.)"
What I find, whatever my views of Pipes interpretations of Israel, Islam (on which I have no expertise) and scholars in America, is that he has been maligned and misrepresented. When Pipes speaks of militant Islam, they equate these charges with applying to all of Islam. Edward Said in The Nation on 12 August 1996 described Pipes as one of several anti-Muslim pundits who seeks to "make sure that the ‘[Islamic] threat' is kept before our eyes, the better to excoriate Islam for terror, despotism and violence, while assuring themselves profitable consultancies, frequent TV appearances and book contracts."
Now there is clearly a debate between Said's Orientalist beliefs that it is Muslims and, Arabs in particular, who should be the analysts of Islam in Arab countries and speak with their own voices, and Pipes' view that in allowing middle east scholarship to be "dominated" - I believe that he claimed that 50% of MESA members consisted of people who had migrated from the Middle East - American interests as well as good scholarship had been sacrificed. Wherever one comes down on that debate, I have concluded that there has been blatant misrepresentation of Pipes' views. Said, though agreeing that there is nothing inherently wrong with criticizing anything an American academic says about any issue and placing this criticism on the web, argues that Pipes site MAY "serve a different purpose" and help foster a police state. John Esposito accuses Pipes and Kramer "In a manner reminiscent of the McCarthy era," as seeking "to intimidate and silence free speech, academic freedom and public debate which are at the
heart of our democratic and pluralistic society." I see no evidence for this. We should hear Pipes, but I am open to be proven wrong. I look forward to having lunch with Pipes as well as to hearing more from critics who may have evidence to the contrary. None of the accusers that I read - Esposito, Said, Parry, Abuminah - provided such evidence. Quite the reverse - they misrepresented what he said and maligned him.
While I may not agree with Pipes, his views should be honestly represented and he should not be smothered with unfounded epithets.
Date: Sun, 19 Jan 2003 14:14:48
We certainly are in a bind, here. I have read your position on this, and most recently XXX's, and while I am persuaded by many points each of you make, and would not have the centre back away from a merely controversial speaker, I cannot make a clear distinction in my own mind between his academic and his political stance. Notwithstanding XXX's discussion of Campus Watch I cannot see Pipes' position as anything other than an attempt at intimidation (and indeed as successful intimidation, to the extent that academics self-censure their work or lectures in order to avoid being named on his site). I did not know about Pipe's involvement with Campus
Watch - the link to the organization is several ‘layers' deep on his website - and had I known, I would not have been in favor of the Centre's sponsorship of the event - his organization seems hostile to the very academic principles that are being invoked in support of his visit. I have no idea of whether others on the OPS committee knew about the Campus Watch issue before this weekend. The real question, though, is what to do now that we have agreed to sponsor the event. On this point, I am torn, and think that regardless of whether we stay on or withdraw, a great deal of damage has been done. The attempt at intimidation re: the potential fallout should we stay involved is no different in my mind from the intimidation that I feel underlies Campus Watch, and I am disinclined to see the Centre withdraw its sponsorship on those grounds. But, I know that several members of the Centre, internal and external, have grave concerns about the
Centre's involvement in this event for both personal and pragmatic reasons, and for that reason alone I think that we should consider withdrawing our sponsorship.
Date: Sun, 19 Jan 2003 17:10:00
First of all, I agree with XXX that the process followed was the right one, and that under the circumstances the decision taken was the right one. Furthermore, I would worry a great deal about backing out under pressure. I think that the principles of free academic exchange that XXX set out in HER/HIS most recent note are exactly right. The Centre is dedicated to fostering open scholarly and public exchange on important matters of international and security studies. It seems to me that both the issues Pipes' addresses in his scholarship and the politics surrounding Campus Watch qualify. What is more, the events at Concordia and the recent debates in the Globe and Mail about whether you can criticize Israeli policy without being anti-Semitic, suggest that a debate around academic freedom and responsibility is extremely timely. I would also like to applaud XXX's careful review of the Campus Watch website in an attempt to find out whether
it is doing what it is being accused of doing. I would also echo HER/HIS suggestion that we try to organize a visit by the President of MESA. On the other side of this question (and are we not always called on for ‘balance'!), I take XXX's point about how deeply hidden Campus Watch is on Pipes' site. I went to take a look at the site,
and tried to find a link to Campus Watch, and some claim on Pipes' part to responsibility for it. Even though it was what I was looking for, I was only able to find references to it by searching for it on the internal site search engine. When I did, there were seven hits, all to articles. So, if you did not know of Pipes' involvement with Campus Watch and went to the site to find out what he was about, the odds are very small that you would learn of it there. I also followed XXX's lead and went to look at the Campus Watch site itself. From what I can tell, SHE/HE is right about what they say they do and about the fact that they are forceful in their critique, but not openly McCarthyite. There were, however, three particular elements of the site that disturbed me a little, and I thought I would draw to your attention. First of all, I thought that since the site is pretty free with names, the names of those who are running it would be fairly easy to find. They are not. In fact, the only indication on the site that I could find about who is involved is the following paragraph:
Who We Are
"Campus Watch consists of American academics concerned about US interests and their
frequent denigration on campus. Those interests include strong ties with Israel, Turkey, and other democracies as they emerge; human rights throughout the region; a stable supply and a low price of oil; and the peaceful settlement of regional and international disputes." There is also a set of links which includes links to the sites of two individuals, including Pipes. Nowhere that I could find is there a list of the sponsors, the members of the group, who these academics are, or anything similar.
Directly under the "Who we are" paragraph is one which is titled "What We Do." This mission statement is a little less ‘academic motherhood and apple pie' than is the one at the top of the homepage, which XXX cited. I reproduce it here in full. I worry particularly about that first sentence. I find it odd to have academics promise to ‘monitor and gather information on professors' let alone setting themselves up as judges of ‘disinformation, incitement and ignorance' among colleagues. I also wonder if they really do what they claim in the first bullet point and critique all instances of bias, or only the bias with which they disagree?
"Campus Watch will henceforth monitor and gather information on professors who fan the flames of disinformation, incitement and ignorance. Campus Watch will critique these specialists, and make available its findings on the internet and in the media. Our main goals are to:
• Identify key faculty who teach and write about contemporary affairs at university Middle East Studies departments in order to analyze and critique the work of these specialists for errors or biases.
• Develop a network of concerned students and faculty members interested in promoting American interests on campus.
• Keep the public apprised of course syllabi, memos, debates over appointments and funding, etc.
• Keep the public informed of relevant university events.
• Continuously post the results of our project on www.campus-watch.org, including articles, reports from campus and other relevant information."
Finally, there is a page that is linked from all the others in the navigation bar down the left side of the site. It is titled "Solidarity with Apologists." Here is what you find on that page: "Following the launch of Campus Watch on September 18, 2002, this site received about 200 e-mails from faculty and graduate students requesting to be listed on www.campus-watch.org in solidarity with academics we identified as apologists for suicide bombings and militant Islam listed on this site. (For more, see the New York Times article).
"Most of the writers are academics from fields other than Middle East studies (and so are not qualified to judge the work of the academics we listed) and few of them addressed the concerns and problems listed by Campus Watch on its homepage. Still, the fact that these individuals insist on declaring solidarity in public with academics that Campus Watch has identified as apologists for Palestinian and Islamist violence is important information for university stakeholders to be aware of, so we are posting their names, in compliance with their wishes:" This text is then followed by names and affiliations. Now, I have no reason to believe that the people listed did not e-mail Campus Watch and ask to be included. Nevertheless, I do find two elements of this disturbing. The first is that they list these names under as inflammatory a title as ‘Solidarity with Apologists' (not even, you will notice, ‘Solidarity with Alleged Apologists' — would those seeking to be noted in solidarity accept the ‘apologist' label, I wonder?) The second is that these are the only names you find on the site, as you will remember that there is no similar
list of the ‘concerned' American academics who constitute Campus Watch.
XXX is right that none of this is openly McCarthyite. On the other hand, I have to confess it made me uncomfortable reading it. There is nothing you can point to, or quote, as a ‘smoking gun', and yet the tone makes me very uneasy. I can see, for example, why Said feels the site may have a different purpose from the one stated, and why others are concerned that there are attempts at intimidation. In particular, for all the disclaimers, I find it hard to see what point the ‘Solidarity with Apologists' page has other than intimidation. Does this mean we should withdraw from the Pipes' lecture? On balance, I think not. I cannot see how our withdrawing at this stage could be read as anything other than an attempt to silence Pipes, and ultimately, I think that the concern over attempts to shut down free debate can only be met with free debate, and not with countervailing attempts at closure. Sorry to have taken up so much of your inbox. However, if nothing else, the controversy has sparked an important debate.
Date: Sun, 19 Jan 2003 18:38:04
In response to the issue at hand, I think to distinguish between the academy and politics is a false dichotomy. Academic activity whether we like it or not in our field of study is inherently a political activity and many of us highlight this dynamic in our papers, presentations, journal articles, and books. I don't think that this relationship in and of itself is problematic. At the danger of making a broad generalization, I would suspect that for most of us at the Centre, the kinds of subjects we explore and the ways in which we do so are not just determined by our academic sensibilities but are also influenced by our political and ethical beliefs as well. My own work is not politically neutral and I wouldn't demand that a visiting scholar be held to this standard either. In fact, I think that it is impossible within the social sciences in general to produce work that does not have some kind of political orientation. Where this relationship becomes problematic is when a scholar does not acknowledge how her/his political views may shape the way in which s/he is approaching the study of a topic (or why s/he is even examining one subject over another). It is unclear to me whether Pipes would acknowledge this relationship
and I think that by having him come to York, there is at least the possibility of raising this issue with him. Thus, I think to succumb to pressure to back out of co-sponsoring this event on the grounds that Pipes is not scholarly enough or that the distinction between his political views and his scholarly work is not clear, may actually undermine some of the core values of the relationship between "theory and practice" that I perceive as being championed by the Centre and fostered within its confines. What makes this situation so difficult though, is that there is also an inter-relationship between political belief and political practice. This is the nexus at which I begin to have some fundamental concerns about Daniel Pipes. I don't believe the disclaimer on the Campus Watch
site because in my opinion, the kind of information that is there, the language that is used, and the way it is presented does very little to further the study of the Middle East or foster
meaningful debate. Instead, the site to me is a punitive instrument that subjects those who may disagree with an unidentified collective to a whole host of professional and personal dangers. If not unethical, the practices being used here are at least highly irresponsible.
XXX (if I am understanding HER/HIM correctly) raises some good points about this situation particularly that it is one where unfortunately, all of the sides involved seem to be engaged in questionable practices of smearing, discrediting, and exposing. Still, I find the practices of Campus Watch to be very troubling. Regardless of the last point, I think it is important for all of us to remember that this wouldn't be the first time that YCISS or other groups within the York Community have brought in a person whose political practices we may disagree with. Because I feel very strongly about academic
freedom and the value of intersubjective dialogue, I do not think it is productive to silence those who engage in practices I disagree with based on alternative viewpoints they hold. The university environment is supposed to be a place where opposing informed viewpoints can engage in debate so long as they are not advocating violence and/or hate. While this is the ideal, I think XXX though brings to light a tough issue in that we have to consider if we are extending a privilege to Daniel Pipes that he might not be willing to extend to those of us who disagree with him? Struggling with this over the past two days, I have come to the conclusion that my personal preference would be to continue to co-sponsor this event. If one believes in academic freedom, if one really believes in the rights of individuals and groups to express themselves freely (within
the bounds of the law), one cannot pick and chose when one wants these to apply. More to the point, if I view Daniel Pipes as my "Other", I feel I have a responsibility to ensure that in the very least, he is able to express his views freely no matter how problematic I may find them. For those of us who have real concerns about Campus Watch, I think we should raise them at lunch and/or during the Q&A after his presentation. If our concerns still remain after this, there are other avenues open to us to voice our opposition to them.
The opinions expressed here are just my own. I think though because of the seriousness of the issue and the potential implications not just for YCISS as a Center but for its members (particularly graduate students, many of whom already find themselves alienated from the department), this issue should be revisited. Due to these special circumstances I also feel that it might be best to arrange a meeting that is open to all the members of YCISS in order to reach a decision ASAP. I also feel that whatever decision is reached, YCISS should issue a statement explaining the basis of that decision for circulation amongst the wider York Community. Please note that I don't think that others at York are entitled to an explanation but rather I think YCISS needs to make it clear that whatever decision is made, it was the result of reasoned deliberation based on the foundational principles and professional ethos of the Centre, not a result of refusing
to consider the challenging dilemmas that this situation raises.
Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2003 00:24:58 -0500
I have a suggestion- An excellent seminar could be offered by YCISS, entitled something like "Thinking and Talking Across Conflict: Academic Dilemmas of Doing Conflict Studies"...Ann Mosley Lesch, former President of Middle East Studies Association, and head of the Palestinian American Research Center would be an excellent scholar to discuss ways forward. Perhaps some would have problems with her work, (the nature of why groups such as Campus Watch, or any silencing/alert tactics-approaches are inherently so destructive, we all have problems with each other's politics
at one point or another.) I do believe she is deeply respected on all sides of Israel-Palestine and Sudan. I just checked the Campus Watch list of apologetics, and was frankly deeply dismayed to see an excellent scholar on Gender and Sudan, Dr. Sondra Hale, (who has written quite critically of the National Islamic Front) on this list. As I am indeed a very junior player, and very much feeling "at risk" in all of this and dilemmas of the like, I will say that sometimes people protest for very good reason. Sondra Hale is much too sophisticated to be branded this way. Moreover, when does such activism as Campus Watch become MCarthylike and when does it not? And who gets to decide?
YCISS is an institution-and what we sponsor is a reflection of all those affiliated. I am not sure that all protests about Pipes have to do with mere silencing, as some, like myself, are opposed to the policing of any kind, of all academic turf. Indeed, there are some on the left who do this as well, and ought to be equally distasteful when recommended for public lecture/sponsorship. AS an institution-I ask, what does YCISS want to
represent to the community? Were other conflicts having so much at stake in the dominant agenda, we would be seeing such acrimony with India-Pakistan, Ethiopia-Eritrea, etc. What would we do then? I believe we ought to not mire ourselves in the conflict, but help work toward ways that bring people forward, both as a general policy, and as an institutional ethos. I believe that a positive development could come from a seminar about working in conflict studies...surely I have seen conflict among people who do work on Sudan, and I know of acrimony amongst people involved in Ethiopia-Eritrea work. In the end, as I said before, I do not think we ought to promote/sponsor advocates of the policing of academic scholarship-whether they are on the left or the right.
I do commend THE CENTRE for opening up the debate and asking our advice, when IT could have easily shut down all debate-we can only have democracy when we have democrats in the house. I do not think it is too late to re-think this presenter. It does not have to be about "caving in"...it can be about considering whether what we are doing is helpful to all parties to the conflict at this time.
Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2003 10:17:05
Will try to attend part of the meeting on Wednesday, but cannot come today.
Not having any personal knowledge or familiarity with Mr. Pipes and his associations, I have to rely on others to fill me in. However, I would like to add my voice to those who say that the university has to be the place where all positions can be debated freely. In cases as divisive and intractable as the Israeli-Palestinian divide, we should not shy away from sponsoring even the most controversial speakers. On the other hand, we should perhaps make sure that an opposing viewpoint can also be represented in another time slot. In other words, the "balance" might be found in YCISS' overall annual speaker programme. I also like XXX's suggestion for a seminar on "Thinking and Talking Across Conflict: Academic Dilemmas of Doing Conflict Studies".
Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2003 10:26:38
I want to say that I do have a lot of reservations about Pipes... because if we want to yes have what ever political perspectives presented and debated on campus, the very fact that Pipes is promoting, or working to exclude some voices and perspectives is against this very idea of freedom in the academia and I think in this sense it is very problematic, although I have to say that I agree with a lot of what XXX said. I think that having a meeting to discuss these issues and concerns is very good! Hope I could be there!
Have a good and sure lively discussion on these important issues.
Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2003 10:44:55
While I find it unfortunate that we are in the position of having to affirm our support for a group decision, I am more than willing to go on the record of having supported the co-sponsoring of Daniel Pipes. My view has always been that a University, to succeed, must be a forum of open debate that is conducted in a collegial, if not friendly, manner. To deny Daniel Pipes' opportunity to speak when he has established his academic credential would be to engage in the exact same form of censorship that his critics are accusing him of performing. I suspect that with the current climate that we are in for a bit of a rough go at YCISS, and I for one will be removing any valuables or breakables from my office. That said, let me just re-affirm that I value YCISS because it is an environment that allows for the hearing of disparate views, which is for me an important part of university life.
Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2003 16:55:39
I posted this to my supervisor and dissertation committee members last night, and was
encouraged by XXX to post it to the community at large. I have no problem providing a place - preserving a space - in which, as XXX suggests, the ‘other's' politics can be safely expounded. However, I don't think that this is about Daniel Pipes' politics (even if some would make it seem that way). The problem for me is this CampusWatch project, not in and of itself, but because of the very troubling (indeed, frightening) social and political atmosphere in the US which underwrites, empowers, and legitimizes the policing, monitoring, and shaming that Daniel Pipes is up to in connection with and related to his politics. Additionally, I think that there are power issues here that we have not addressed, particularly around the question of silencing. I'm not sure how Daniel Pipes can constitute the ‘other' when questions of power are raised: in the US (and quite possibly in Canada as well), Pipe's position is the mainline position. In my estimation, it is a frightening one. Daniel Pipes is not a ‘marginal' voice that requires the sponsorship of YCISS in order to be heard. Our withdrawal of the sponsorship, should it come to pass, will not silence Pipes - he will still be giving his talk at the Underground. I think, significantly, that it is Pipes himself who can be regarded as the silencer in the growing paranoia and war-readiness of the US domestic political climate. Additionally, I fear that there could be violence from this - either at the Underground or targeted against the Centre or Centre members. I have noticed that news of Pipes' Centre sponsorship has
hit a great many listservs, and that this issue has grown far beyond the confines of the
Department of Political Science. I'm concerned about the abuse that Centre staff will no doubt have to field. Although I would certainly never attempt to speak for Centre staff, I think it is telling that the debate up to this point has not figured in Centre staff or their safety (from telephone and email threats, barrages of complaints, from physical threat, and so on). I'm concerned about finding something adequate to explain to my students why the Centre made a decision to sponsor a figure that would give rise to such bitter controversy on a topic that is so polarized as to be almost fruitless for any discussion once a controversial figure is involved (which we witnessed at Concordia). This is not about silencing debate, but rather choosing which debates and how they are undertaken might be more fruitful (or, less fruitful) than others. Daniel Pipes has already silenced the debate. He comes not as an academic of goodwill and open mind, hoping to learn more from his contact with other scholars and intending to contribute to a more just, equitable, peaceful and peaceable world. He comes not as an academic emissary hoping to hammer out solutions with his peers. He comes as already-determined, with lines already drawn between the ‘acceptable' and the ‘unacceptable'. And so I will not attend his lunch,
because I do not believe that he is a man of goodwill. Some of you will likely charge me with silencing debate, undermining the basic tenets of academic freedom. To you I say that not all of us are in equal positions of power, prestige, or privilege. XXX noted this in HIS/HER post (and it moved me very much) when HE/SHE suggested that HIS/HER junior position at the Centre devalued or limited what HE/SHE could potentially say. Although the Centre is not that kind of environment, and I am pleased to say that it is not, there are still questions of power at work, and not all of us are on equal footing. Some of us can better afford to be wrong than others. This is a difficult position for me to be in. I disagree with the decision to sponsor Daniel Pipes.
Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2003 20:18:18
I have so far remained silent in this debate mainly because the issues have torn at me and have seeded doubt and conflict within my own mind. I feel now is the time, however, to share my thoughts and opinions with you all. I draw on the postings of all who have gone before me and thank you for them, please excuse redundancies and repetitions.
Let me say at the beginning that I think that the Centre should withdraw its sponsorship of the Daniel Pipes lecture. I disagree with those who state that this is an issue of academic freedom. Daniel Pipes is free to say what he wants when he wants, the Centre's withdrawal of sponsorship will not affect his ability to carry this out.
I agree that the Centre should be a space for people of all political persuasions to be able to carry out safe, productive and intense debate. While Daniel Pipes' lecture may fall into the "academic" realm we cannot execute an artificial separation of Mr. Pipes' academic and political activities. The essence of academic life is, at its core, really a matter of faith and goodwill. We rely on others not necessarily to agree with us but to hear us out and not to act to silence us if they do not agree with what we say or how we say it. In this case, however, Mr. Pipes breaks that faith and perpetrates the most dangerous kind of contradiction. He relies, or at the very least accepts sponsorship of academic centres while working to silence, through what can only be called intimidation, just such places that he believes are biassed. Does the Centre do justice to the cause of academic freedom by sponsoring Mr. Pipes' talk notwithstanding our grave concerns about his trampling of just these very freedoms? I would argue not. Instead, by revoking its sponsorship the Centre can send a message which states that it will not stand by the corruption and abuse of such a principle by sponsoring someone who obviously holds it in little regard. Moreover, I have grave concerns about the way in which the sponsorship was garnered in the first place. Does anyone else wonder why Mr. Pipes' participation in Campus-watch was not made up-front to THE CENTRE when the appeal for sponsorship was made? This kind of cloaking mirrors, to me, the difficulty one has in finding any reference to campus-watch on Mr. Pipes' own website. The contradiction between campus-watch efforts (oh so public condemnation) and Daniel Pipes' participation in them speaks to a crass, yet powerful, effort to manipulate and control both the images and perceptions generated of him as well as the roles he desires to play when it suits him - anti-academic agitator in one case, academic/journalist in the next. However, as XXX has said so eloquently, and as XXX has also ominously hinted at, there are more than just theoretical concerns to be taken into account here. The real fallout from the Centre's sponsorship of the Pipes' lecture has to be taken into account especially given the charged atmosphere this debate engenders. Given this atmosphere it is appropriate to ask if Daniel Pipes' lecture will indeed productively contribute to a space or an effort of debate and
dialogue. Or will it further inflame and entrench a debate already dangerously polarized? XXX's suggestion is indeed a direction that I feel the Centre could move in with enormous potential.
Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2003 21:18:04
Thank you for keeping us informed about this event. I have not had much time to read through the numerous e-mails on this issue - but as many as I can at the present time, as this appears to shaping up to be a very serious situation. I fear that this will be a very inflammatory experience for York University and frankly, I have never seen true dialogue occur under such conditions. It is one thing to be angry, frustrated and in disagreement (under such conditions, there is often still space for discussion, for finding common ground, or tolerating difference, etc) - but this is something else. I am very suspicious of Campus Watch and Pipe's strong/close alliance with such a group. While I disagree with what I know of Pipe's political views (I don't have time right now to provide a critique) - what concerns me more at present is the fact that he is clearly
shoring himself up with Campus Watch - which you describe rightly as intimidating and
silencing. I am afraid I do not have the patience or confidence to see how "this plays out". I strongly oppose YCISS supporting/co-sponsoring this event.
Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2003 21:31:31
This matter with Daniel Pipes is very important to me, and I put some serious thinking time into the matter today. Before I put my thoughts down, I'd like to thank everyone for their input, and I need to say that my thinking is informed in large part by what others have already said. I'm afraid that I will not be eloquent as the other's have been (XXX and XXX in particular have raised the bar a bit high for me), but I want to contribute to the discussion as well.
The debate over both the presence of Daniel Pipes on campus, as well as the YCISS decision to sponsor this individual has raised a number of very important points. To begin with let me place the caveat up front that when making the decision to let this individual speak in part under the YCISS banner, I was unaware with his connection to the Campus Watch movement. This is, I think we all agree, a very troubling phenomenon. That does not mean, however, that we should necessarily have denied him the ability to address the academic community. I've been thinking about this issue (academic freedom) for a while now, and this has just refocused my attention to a number of very difficult questions, which I do not have all the answers to. I will, however, strive to lay out my preliminary thinking on this issue. I would welcome feedback if possible from anyone interested and involved in these questions.
1. Who is privileged to Address our Academic Community. I believe that anyone who is invited to speak at a University should be able to claim some authority in the issue area. That does not mean they have to have been recognized by the academy with a degree, but that they need some form of expertise in the area. This can be garnered through first hand experience in the area, such as what a journalist would acquire. This then speaks to the competence of Daniel Pipes to talk to a University audience on Middle Eastern affairs. He is widely published in the area, and continues to work as a journalist for prominent newspapers. It is not unreasonable to expect that he will be able to defend his position. The corollary of this is that a part of the right to speak at a University is the willingness to engage the audience's questions pertaining to the presentation. Whether the questions pertain to methodology, evidence, conclusions, or even the validity of the
question asked, it is a part of the covenant of an academic community that the individual be prepared to defend his/her position. The implication of this is that if one is unwilling to engage questions, one should not be provided the freedom to speak under most circumstances.
2. Institutional Roles versus Individual Roles. The decision to sponsor Daniel Pipes was
undertaken by YCISS as a research unit, thus as an institutional body. This is different from an individual's decision for a number of reasons. The first is that the decision was entered into collectively by a committee overseeing the daily operations of YCISS. The organization has a set of interests beyond those of the constituent members, specifically the long-term fostering of a place of academic excellence and openness that fosters research and discussion. As a result the support of any visiting speaker that is touching on an area of international relations or security studies is in the organization's best interest, even if the views espoused are not agreed with providing the first point is met. Secondly, as individuals we are governed by our own ethics and politics which guide our decision making. YCISS has not adopted a particular ethical stance beyond a general commitment to critical studies in all of its broad meaning. As individuals we have the right and indeed the obligation to make informed decisions of whether we should attend any particular presentation, and to consider the implications of that decision. While in most
instances this decision is one based on time commitments there are instances when the subject matter and the approach of an individual is viewed by some as offensive. My assertion is that YCISS does not have this privilege, and that it must be foremost concerned with the issue of supporting disparate voices within academia, and to continue supporting an open academic environment.
3. Censorship. The question is when are we, as an academic institution, policing views, and should we do so? This is an extremely complicated matter that is tough to unravel, a veritable gordion's knot. This question is made all the more complex by the fact that Daniel Pipes is involved with the organization Campus Watch which is implicated in doing just this very thing - proscribing debate and policing what faculty, and thus by definition what graduate students are allowed to say. To have any validity in denouncing Campus Watch we can not fall prey to the same tactics that they use. Wherever possible we must strive to engender a space that is open and comfortable for public discussion.
4. Truth, Power and the Speech Act. To begin I need to argue that I do not believe in a Habermasian state where the perfect speech act can allow the adjudication between two
competing truth claims. This does not mean that I feel that competing discourses can not be judged. We can not separate Daniel Pipes and his arguments from the historical, cultural and academic discourse within which he is embedded. Indeed, as a privileged voice in the media his claims carry a significant weight. When combined with the current polarized debate on Middle Eastern issues he speaks from a position of power. This does have implications for the nature of the debate that is likely to ensue on whether he should be allowed to speak. One position would be to deny his application to speak on the basis that this would empower other dissenting voices. There is some truth to this, his speech is likely to be seen by some as a recognition of, and perhaps even a support of his call to limit debate. However, I do not believe that silencing him is the way to proceed as it compromises our commitment to openness. This is of course contingent on his willingness to engage in an academic conversation rather than polemics, and his respect of the university population.
5. Public Debate. To silence Daniel Pipes is to limit debate on what he has to say. I'm a firm believer that in an academic setting with a debate and a conversation between him and the audience, that the limits and implications of his views can be drawn out. I would suggest that if his approaches, conclusions and use of empirical evidence are as ill-informed as is claimed by his detractors (and I suspect they are), this should be apparent in the responses to his presentation. Of course this returns to the central tenet of a public debate, rather than the provision of podium for a diatribe from the individual.
6. Responsibility of the Speaker. There is another aspect that needs to be addressed, and this is in terms of the right of the individual to espouse their position within an academic setting. There are, despite the tone of my argument to date, limits that must be placed on an individual's right to speak. In essence I would concur with the hate laws which prohibit the incitement of hatred or violence against identifiable groups or individuals. Now, I am the first to admit that this is a very fuzzy line that is difficult to adjudicate. Advocating revolution, preferential treatment (ie. discrimination) is also to advocate violence which is problematic. There is a necessity to judge between the various forms of speech, and the various perspectives people offer, which brings us to the last crucial point.
7. Morals, Ethics, Politics and the Social Sciences. Contrary to the claim of the canon of
political SCIENCE, the pursuit of this field is not, and indeed can not, divorced from issues of morals, ethics and politics. What we study and how we study it is inevitably and irrevocably entwined with who we are and the social/historical context within which we live. This does not mean that we are unable to judge between competing arguments and claims. I follow Levinas in the respect for the "other" as a basis to judge arguments' moral claims. This of course is no easy thing to do, and is the basis of my current internal debate. Which "other" do you use as a basis for ethical debate, what happens when one group's rights must be eroded to provide rights to another. Which raises my area of concern, what do you do about rights of a group versus rights of an individual. I've been putting a great deal of thought into this, but really need to spend about a year of reading to be brought up to speed on this debate. In conclusion how does this play out? Well, in the first place I am under the impression that Daniel Pipes is speaking on issues pertaining to the Middle East and will be entertaining
questions. If this is the case then I believe YCISS is correct in permitting him to speak. At the same time we are obliged, especially those involved in the decision, to attend the lecture and to challenge him on what he has to say. To perform our responsibility as academics we must critically examine his position.
Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2003 23:33:18
Although I will endeavour to attend at least a portion of the meeting on Wednesday, I have a class scheduled around the same time, and therefore can not commit to the meeting. In case I can not make it, below are some of my thoughts regarding the matter, which I will happily regurgitate should I find myself in attendance.
I am compelled by XXX's views regarding the potential of replicating the very activity of
censure that Mr. Pipes and Campus Watch is accused of. However, to compare the withdrawal of YCISS' endorsement for Mr. Pipes' visit with the activities of Campus Watch would, in my humble opinion, obscure the very questions of power that XXX raised. Can we deem the withdrawal of YCISS co-sponsorship as ethically suspect and coercive? XXX and others have noted that Daniel Pipes' research orientation and political inclinations are not unique. As XXX pointed out, those who sponsor his work and share his views do not inhabit a marginal position—they are mainstream. There are no shortage of venues and forums through which Mr. Pipes can express his views. However, I also realize that open scholarly exchange, even with those whose views we find utterly repugnant, is not only inevitable, but is in fact integral to a process of self-examination central to the engagement of any critical research. Yet, because Mr. Pipes' research is not unique, I am forced to question the validity of braving great lengths to legitimize his visit, especially (if I understand it correctly) given that the talk will proceed as scheduled regardless of whether YCISS is a co-sponsor or not. As XXX noted, a
separation of Mr. Pipes' research and his political activities can not be made without adopting particular blinders. While compelling arguments may be (and have been) presented as to the value of engaging with the type of research he conducts, I do not feel his political involvement with Campus Watch can be approached in the same manner.
There are any number of academics who can do justice to the particular positions Mr. Pipes' has adopted in the past (and I can only deduce, that he intends to present at the talk), who are not invested in a project aimed to censor other academics or to induce them to commit self-censorship through coercion. I am more than willing to seize the opportunity to engage those speakers, regardless of how I assess their views, because they at least understand that one of the central tenet of academic research (and indeed a principle that underpins the Centre's commitments) is the facilitation of open scholarly exchange. In short, while Mr. Pipes' research
may not be unique, his involvement with Campus Watch is uniquely anti-academic.
Subsequently, I feel that a smaller and more secure forum aimed to accommodate anxieties regarding Campus Watch will not genuinely address our various concerns regarding the activities of that organization. This will not be the first academic exchange in which Mr. Pipes is asked to legitimate and justify his affiliation with Campus Watch. I do not believe Mr. Pipes would be oblivious to the potential of being called to account for his political involvement with an organization well publicized for collecting dossiers on academics who are accused of expressing particular views which "fans the flames of disinformation, incitement, and ignorance"
(so says the Website…). I envision this issue will be a focal point of the small meeting with Mr. Pipes, one which I believe he can not simply "explain away". I am therefore compelled to ask myself if any discussion framed by such a context would prove to be fruitful at all. I am extremely appreciative of the YCISS Operations Committee for extending the opportunity to revisit this issue. I can only imagine (and would still fail to fully comprehend) the pressure and responsibility which affects them. Given that many of them also constitute the primary audience of my daily spin of "The Woes of a T.A.", I can not help but experience a sense of guilt which can only be satiated by a round of drinks at my expense. Hopefully, future repairs to the infrastructure of the Underground will not impede my plans?
Date: Tue, 21 Jan 2003 10:02:59
Like many others on this list, I've been struggling with the issues raised by the Pipes visit over the past couple of days. While I don't have anything particularly fresh to add to the discussion, I thought I should at least add my voice to those who have expressed grave reservations about the visit. While I was originally OK with the idea on the grounds of freedom of expression, and had even planned on attending the event, my thinking has shifted largely in response to some of the very good and thoughtful interventions of others. As this has developed, like XXX I've been increasingly convinced that little good will come of it in terms of respectful debate, and that it will do far more to create divisiveness than dialogue on campus. And as many others have mentioned, there are good reasons to question Pipes' integrity, particularly with regard to Campus Watch. I heard him several weeks ago defending the Campus Watch project on CBC Radio, and by the end of the interview I was quite convinced that the project was about intimidation and the stifling of dissent. I think there are lots of people, many of them controversial, who could speak in the current polarized environment in ways that are useful and
productive, but I'm not convinced that Daniel Pipes is one of them. For these reasons, and acknowledging the awkwardness of withdrawing sponsorship at this point, I don't think YCISS should be supporting this event.
Date: Tue, 21 Jan 2003 11:22:20
After careful consideration of the controversy around Daniel Pipes, reflecting on everyone's thoughtful and provoking emails, and also engaging in my own research, both of Daniel Pipes as a scholar and his involvement in Campus Watch, I feel strongly in favour of pulling our support for this particular event. While at the time of making the decision in OPS to support this event, we could reasonably make the claim to not knowing the full extent of Daniel Pipes' activities, this claim can no longer hold up. In my desire to redress my careless unknowing, I spent several hours doing some research last night - much of what I came across left me rather disturbed and feeling more than a bit responsible for the consequences we will no doubt have to face. Most of the conversation in and around whether or not we should continue our support of this
event has been the question of academic freedom. Specifically, if we pull out of our sponsorship what is then that we are saying about our commitment as individuals and as a Centre to academic freedom? To reiterate some of my colleagues earlier points - pulling our sponsorship would not mean that the event would no longer take place. More importantly, however, is that in this conversation - the opening up of whether or not we should put our name to this event – has afforded Daniel Pipes more academic freedom than he has ever offered to those he names as ‘apologists' or ‘anti-Semites.' I encourage colleagues to do a google search on Daniel Pipes to determine for themselves the
calibre of violence in which he is engaged. I, myself believe that his particular practices are indeed violent, both discursively but also in the potential physical violence they engender. Consider for example, a September 1998 Middle East Quarterly article entitled, "You Need Beethoven to Modernize," in which Pipes intimates that Muslims are incapable of certain emotions. Consider a New York Post article of 27 August 2002 entitled "Something Rotten in Denmark?" in which Muslims are singled out as Denmark's most serious domestic threat; Pipes claims that Muslims comprise a majority of Denmark's rapists, even though Denmark's criminal registers do not record religion. One should follow the Middle East forum links in which readers are encouraged to respond to Pipes' articles - although the disclaimer says that the site is not responsible for the comments made on the forum, it also indicates that comments will be ‘screened for substance and tone'. I encourage colleagues to judge for themselves the unbelievable hatred that appears in these comments, and to determine the extent of Daniel Pipes'
culpability in fomenting hate speech. Consider also the following two statements by Daniel Pipes: "I worry very much from the Jewish point of view that the presence, and increased stature, and affluence, and enfranchisement of American Muslims...will present true dangers to American Jews."(Daniel Pipes speaking before the convention of the American Jewish Congress, 10/21/2001); "The Palestinians are a miserable people...and they deserve to be." (Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 2001)
These are just a few of many comments which I feel are entirely violent in content and effect. As a critical scholar, my commitments are to honest, reflexive, and responsible engagement, in the spirit of that my own ethical position is that we withdraw from this event. While I recognize that this could be construed as undermining my critical commitments, I strongly feel that this is living up to them rather than detracting from them - taking a position and willing to be responsible for it.
Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2003 18:53:24
Thanks to everyone who has so carefully and thoughtfully laid out the issues to be weighed here. I won't waste time repeating things already so well said, but would like to throw in my two cents. I should say first that I am not at all inclined to advocate silencing a particular politics. On the contrary, I am committed to the view that all voices, however controversial, must be given a space and, equally, must be engaged by those of us who might have a response (critical or otherwise) to offer. I would not, therefore, advocate withdrawing YCISS support of the Pipes lecture on the basis of what he has to say.
That said, I think that the issue at stake here is the safeguarding of a collegium that will admit of all voices no matter how unpopular they might be. This is possible only when people can feel safe in raising ideas and perspectives; when they needn't worry about undue consequences of speaking up. In my opinion Campus Watch is a real danger in this regard. Though I would agree with XXX that there is nothing on the Campus Watch website that is properly McCarthyite, I nevertheless feel XXX's uneasiness about the way particular people are being singled out for their views in this forum—and I read reports that at least some of them have suffered consequences as a result. Were I to fear that I might be subject to some of the same, I dare say I might be a little more reluctant to present certain perspectives in my lectures, notwithstanding that I try always to offer as full a range as possible. In spite of any disclaimer to the contrary, the effects of Campus Watch's activities seem clear—and, giving the benefit of the doubt, if they weren't anticipated they should certainly be well understood by now. In my opinion (and, of course, I'm rather better insulated from any potential fallout than most of you) YCISS support for the Pipes lecture ought to be withdrawn—not because of what he might
have to say but because, contrary to the spirit of the collegium, he is involved in practices
which seem in effect even if not in design (again, giving the benefit of the doubt) to threaten the free exchange and contestation of ideas by making it difficult for certain voices to be raised. To give the stamp of legitimacy to this by now making space for Daniel Pipes' voice also seems to me to be contrary to the spirit and the interests of the collegium. I am given pause to imagine how any one of us might deal with a student who willfully engaged in conduct that had the effect of silencing others of our students through intimidation—I certainly would not feel as though I was in violation of my commitment to free speech as I expelled the offending student from my class.
YCISS held two meetings of its members on Monday, 20 January and Wednesday, 22 January to further discuss the co-sponsorship of the Daniel Pipes' seminar scheduled for 28 January 2003. A consensus was reached at the last meeting and the following note was widely circulated:
Date: Wed, 22 Jan 2003 13:54:48
The York Centre for International and Security Studies has withdrawn its co-sponsorship of the upcoming lecture by Daniel Pipes. At the time the decision to co-sponsor the event was made, the Centre was unaware of Mr. Pipes' links to Campus Watch. The Centre will continue to sponsor presentations by academics, experts, and policy-makers in
all fields relevant to the Centre's mandate who are willing to support and engage in scholarly openness and debate. For those interested in the range and intensity of the extensive internal debate at YCISS on this issue, material will be available on the Centre's website as of this Monday, January 27th.