Setting The Record Straight

Campus Watch corrects false allegations made against it.

Response to:

Silenced in the Classroom
by Seth Wessler
Colorlines: The National News Magazine on Race and Politics
November/December 2008

False allegations of attacking professors who criticize Israel
False allegations of suppressing free speech
Falsely alleged dossiers on professors
False allegations of attacking critics of America's policy in the Middle East
False accusations of being part of a lobby or conspiracy

Campus Watch Responds:

In a breathless apologia for the New York City public school Khalil Gibran International Academy, Seth Wessler makes erroneous and unfounded assertions against Campus Watch and CW's founder, Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes. His charges include the long, mendacious list of tired clichés typically hurled against CW without a shred of evidence. To wit:

Many of those most active in the campaign against the Khalil Gibran school have long been involved in concerted and often successful blacklisting of professors perceived to have anti-American or anti-Israeli positions, which amounts to what some critics label a new McCarthyist assault on freedom of speech. The conservative groups in these attacks at university campuses have included Pipes's Middle East Forum and its offshoot, Campus Watch, which monitors Middle East Studies programs and faculty for their positions on Palestine and Israel. They have also included the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, which attacked professors who they deemed to be "unwilling to defend…civilization." Senator Joseph Lieberman and Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney, are among this group's founders. Numerous professors have apparently lost their tenure bids as a result of Pipes and his cohorts.

For the record:

  • Campus Watch is not an "offshoot" of the Middle East Forum, but a program of it;
  • CW does not blacklist anyone for any reason;
  • CW is hardly in a position to be "a new McCarthyist assault on academic freedom of speech." We possess no governmental powers to prevent anyone from speaking or writing as they please--a necessary ingredient for McCarthyism--and do not wish to suppress anyone's freedom of speech in any way;
  • We do not monitor anyone for their views on "Palestine and Israel," but for politicized, tendentious scholarship and teaching and other analytical faults.

As for the final charge--that "Numerous professors have apparently lost their tenure bid as a result of Pipes and his cohorts," my response is simple: show me the evidence. Who has lost his tenure bid? Where? When? By what means could the failure to gain tenure be directly attributable to Campus Watch?

If sloppy research, unfounded charges, and conspiracy theories are prevalent in the debates over KGIA or any other element of Middle East studies, they stem not from CW or the Middle East Forum, but from unscrupulous authors like Seth Wessler.

(Posted by Winfield Myers)