When the Philadelphia based Middle East Forum started Campus Watch (www.campus- watch.org) two months ago, they had no idea what reaction they would get.
The innocuously named web site began its life with a list of eight professors who forum director Daniel Pipes believed are in "solidarity with apologists for Islamic violence." But rather than elicit a negative response from the professors listed, the list instead prompted dozens of other academics, led by Univeristy of California Berkeley professor Judith Butler, to bombard Pipes with requests to be added to the site.
"I can have criticisms of those who were singled out, but that doesn't mean that they should be threatened by being put on this list," said Columbia political science professor Mark Kesselman, who asked to be put on the list to show support for his fellow academics. "This is an intrusion into academic research. It shouldn't have been compiled and posted," he said.
Daniel Pipes believes that American universities "downplay the dangers posed by militant Islam, seeing it as a benign and even democratizing force." He views Campus Watch as a venue for discussion about Middle East politics. Kesselman and others disagree.
"The issues are not simple," said Kesselman. "There aren't two sides, and this site contributes to polarizing people, not to healthy debate."