Setting The Record Straight

Campus Watch corrects false allegations made against it.

Response to:

Campus Watch–the New McCarthyism Denounces Academic Freedom Conferences on Campuses Such as N.Y.U.
by Peter N. Kirstein
Peter N. Kirstein's Weblog
February 23, 2008

False allegations of attacking professors who criticize Israel
False allegations of suppressing free speech
False allegations of attacking critics of America's policy in the Middle East

Campus Watch Responds:

Update (1/12/09): Professor Kirstein has since apologized for his misattribution, both here and here.

St. Xavier University history professor Peter Kirstein can't seem to tell the difference between the writings of Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes and those of Campus Watch staff. His weblog post, "Campus Watch–the New McCarthyism Denounces Academic Freedom Conferences on Campuses such as N.Y.U.," ascribes an article on NYU's recent "academic freedom" conference to Pipes, when, in fact, it was written by myself. One would think a professor would take the time to note the actual author of a piece in question, but perhaps his fixation on Campus Watch got the better of him.

Kirstein has falsely accused Campus Watch of practicing "McCarthyism" or suppressing free speech on a number of occasions, and this latest post ratchets up the hysteria a notch. As puts it:

…they believe no American academic should criticise Israel; no American academic should explore Palestinian suffering behind the walls of death and despair; no American academic should teach, utter, write or speak about any aspect of the Middle East, Israel, Iraq, Iran unless it entirely comports with the muscular, preemptive world-wide war against Islam–with YOUR son or daughter–not theirs.

Kirstein misses the mark completely. The Campus Watch mission statement – available for all to see on the website homepage – reads as follows:

Campus Watch reviews 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.

There's something about Campus Watch and, namely, the prospect of outside criticism, that causes Kirstein and likeminded academics to lose all sense of perspective, let alone propriety. But is a little fact-checking too much to expect?

(Posted by Cinnamon Stillwell)