I read with interest Michael Dobbs's Jan. 13 front-page article, "Middle East Studies Under Scrutiny in U.S."
Although I cannot speak with any authority on the current state of these programs, I earned a bachelor's degree from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service along with a certificate in Arab studies in 1986. Although the school is now apparently being considered one of the centers of the "radical Middle East Studies lobby" by Daniel Pipes of Campus Watch, I found Georgetown's program at that time to be remarkably balanced.
While certainly sympathetic to the plight of the Arab people, most of the professors, including Arab professors, were critical of Arab governments and the way in which they used the plight of the Palestinians to buttress their oppressive regimes.
I hope that sort of balanced discourse has continued and that Mr. Pipes is simply overreacting to what is otherwise reasonable opposition to the Bush administration's Middle East policy.
I strongly question the negative reaction by Campus Watch to Rashid Khalidi's appointment to the Edward Said Chair of Middle East Studies at Columbia University.
Why should a person's patriotism be questioned because of an "outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq" when we don't question the patriotism of thousands of Americans with similar sentiments. Also, is it wrong to publicly express sympathy for the Palestinian cause? I don't think so.
JIMMIE SILMAN JR.