Setting The Record Straight

Campus Watch corrects false allegations made against it.

Response to:

Orientalism: Something Like a Disclaimer
by Sune Haugbolle
CUMITet: Cophenhagen University Middle East and Islam Network
December 17, 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
Misc. Corrections
False accusations of being part of a lobby or conspiracy

Campus Watch Responds:

The Danish Middle East studies scholar Sune Haugbolle has written two blog posts on Mervat Hatem's presidential address at the Middle East Studies Association's (MESA) annual meeting, held recently in Washington, DC.

In the first post, dated December 1, "Put Said on the Backburner," he expressed concern that the Middle East studies establishment is too enthralled by Edward Said's Orientalism—a concern CW shares.

The second post, titled, "Orientalism: Something Like a Disclaimer" and dated December 17, he mistakenly claimed that CW is the creation of Martin Kramer:

My previous piece about MESA 2008 and why we should put Said on the backburner was read by a lot of people, which is great. It was also not only linked, but quoted in full length on Martin Kramer's Campuswatch webpage, undoubtedly because it contained a critique of MESA president Mervat Hatem's address in November which can be seen to fit with the general thrust of his longstanding attack on the Middle East Studies Association (his book Ivory Towers on Sand, etc).

Thanks to a correction posted on CUMNet by Martin Kramer, this error has now been corrected: Martin Kramer did not found Campus Watch and has no connection with it.

But Haugbolle commits several more errors regarding Campus Watch. The above paragraph continues:

In other words, I was NOT included on Campuswatch for the same reasons as those of my friends who have had the honour. I don't like that association, and I find it necessary to specify my critique. Having stated my dislike of the McCarthyist project of surveying ME studies for good (read patriotic, anti-Islamic and pro-Israeli) scholarship....

CW is not a "McCarthyist project"--an insult that is as groundless as it is tiresome. We have no ability to censor anyone or call professors before Senatorial committees, nor do we seek such powers. One hopes that, sooner or later, the academic left will itself tire of this trite stereotype.

Nor do we define as "good" scholarship that is "patriotic, anti-Islamic and pro-Israel." We critique Middle East studies without regard to the religion or nationality of the professors we critique.

Haugbolle is also mistaken on the reasons behind our decision to add his December 1 post to our archives. A disclaimer at the bottom of each archived piece notes, "These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique."

Then comes this, from his concluding paragraph:

A friend of mine commented on my unlikely inclusion on Campuswatch that this proves exactly why Said can't be put on the backburner. In other words (at least I presume this is what she meant), as long as the likes of Kramer are out there, we need to be aware of stereotypes and politically powerful lobbies who promote the old Orientalist canard about the Orient as intrinsically backwards and therefore in need of help (and invasions).

CW does not engage in stereotyping, nor are we part of any lobby (please show me the source of my ostensible marching orders if I am part of such a conspiracy). We in no way push a negative image of the Middle East, as Haugbolle's unnamed friend claimed.

Haugbolle understands that Said's disciples have damaged the intellectual integrity of Middle East studies by, among other things, diverting attention from real problems in the region. Given this, one hopes that he and his colleagues will take seriously his closing admonition, which he calls "our real job":

[T]o describe and understand current and past social reality in the Middle East.

(Posted by Winfield Myers)