Professors in an academy plagued by intellectual rot can either benefit from scholarly critiques or cling to rigid and fashionable dogmas. Refusing to remain cowed by an entrenched ivory tower, Dr. Daniel Pipes is courageously stirring much needed debate and change.
With no apologies, Dr. Pipes takes on the apologists of Middle East Studies, specifically people like Scott Bohlinger ("Pipes stifles debate") who argue that "militant Islamist movements ... [seen] today arose because of different ills and injustices." Mr. Bohlinger goes even further (like many supposed "experts") and blames "human rights abuses" for the rise of Lebanese Hizballah (Party of God) and American support for the authoritarian Shah of Iran as the cause of the Ayatollah Khomeini's brutal regime. Such bunk is common in secular democracies like the United States where intellectuals continue to underestimate the power of religious-utopian ideas. To the contrary, it is with great clarity of thought that Dr. Pipes reminds us that militant Islam is a totalitarian reaction to the pervasive feeling among many Muslims that their civilization has dangerously declined. Therefore, for many Islamists, the answer to "What Went Wrong?" is a radical, violent, anti-Western, and utopian Islam. One only needs to read the pronouncements of these contemporary fascists:
"We are not afraid of economic sanctions or military intervention. What we are afraid of is Western universities" -Ayatollah Khomeini
"Jihad, bullets, and martyrdom operations are the only way to destroy the degradation and disbelief which have spread in the Muslim lands." -from an al-Qaeda recruitment video sized in Great Britain
"The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies, civilians and military, is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in a country [where] it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa mosque ..." - from the 1998 declaration of war from the World Islamic Front for the Jihad Against the Jews and the Crusaders
In other words, Hizballah (and the like) was not formed out of concern for human rights but the extremist cauldrons of terror masters (in Hizballah's case, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard) responsible for numerous kidnappings, assassinations, and suicide car bombings.
Unfortunately, this view is lost under the stampede of "academics" and "experts" who dishonestly obscure the origins of radical Islam. It is precisely this denial that compels Dr. Pipes and his many colleagues to counter through public lectures, editorials, and yes, the establishment of a small project called Campus Watch.
The fury over Campus Watch is unbelievably absurd. Mr. Bohlinger argues that it is "a campaign against academia" designed to impose the "agenda" of Dr. Pipes and smear "luminary professors." "Preposterous" doesn't begin to do justice to this criticism. First and foremost, the specialists of Campus Watch simply state what professors say and write, provide citations, and respond with appropriate rebuttals. How in the world does this stifle debate? No one loses his or her job and no one is forced to visit the site. In reality, the academics have spent the last year scrambling to silence Dr. Pipes and the best defense they have concocted is an emotionally charged accusation that Campus Watch is leading some kind of McCarthyite vendetta.
The real lesson for everyone out there is to recognize Dr. Pipes for who he is, an honest intellectual trying to improve Middle East Studies. Campus Watch is not what the hysterical propagandists say it is but the symptom of a much larger problem in desperate need of examination, discussion, and repair. For perspective, I think we can all benefit from the thoughtful words of SIS Professor Akbar Ahmed. When asked to comment on the Pipes nomination, he wrote, "One of the challenges facing America after September 11 is how to deal with Islam. There is a need to understand the Muslim community, its history and its traditions. Who is better placed to act as a bridge than the scholar [Pipes] of Islam?"