Setting The Record Straight

Campus Watch corrects false allegations made against it.

Response to:

The Culture War Descends on Columbia
by Esther Kaplan
The Nation
October 26, 2007

False allegations of suppressing free speech
Falsely alleged dossiers on professors

Campus Watch Responds:

Some writers equate criticism with censorship and creating a climate of fear. Others charge that critical essays are nothing more than a smear job. Esther Kaplan does both when she writes:

Two assistant professors, Joseph Massad and Nadia Abu El-Haj, were publicly smeared by another right-wing outfit, Campus Watch, as they underwent tenure review.


It was Said--not, say, Campus Watch, with its hit list of faculty labeled as apologists for suicide bombings and militant Islam--who created a "climate of fear in academia" and whose "aggressive tone" was tantamount to "academic terrorism."

I'd like for Kaplan to demonstrate where CW "smeared" either Massad or Abu El-Haj. To critique is not to smear. Rather, to smear is to hurl unfounded, inaccurate, and unspecified accusations in lieu of engaging in argument. Pretty much what Kaplan herself is engaged in.

As for a "faculty hit list," it doesn't exist. In September of 2002, for a period of less than two weeks, CW listed dossiers of professors who had in fact issued apologias for violent acts--a tendency that has by no means passed. Having served their purpose, they were removed, and have not been up since. A cursory glance at CW's site would have revealed as much.

How they created a "climate of fear" and the like is something Kaplan doesn't explain or prove, because of course they didn't. Fear in academe, in fact, stems more from knowing that off-campus groups and individuals have the temerity to critique works (and actions) that professors had for years assumed went unnoticed by the masses, and to then bring those critiques to a broad audience.

It's a small world after all.

(Posted by Winfield Myers)