Setting The Record Straight

Campus Watch corrects false allegations made against it.

Response to:

Fear, Inc. The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America
by Wajahat Ali, Eli Clifton, Matthew Duss, Lee Fang , Scott Keyes, and Faiz Shakir
Center for American Progress
August 26, 2011

Misc. Corrections
False accusations of being part of a lobby or conspiracy

Campus Watch Responds:

The Center for American Progress has released a report titled, "Fear, Inc. The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America" in which Middle East Forum founder and president Daniel Pipes, and to a lesser extent, Campus Watch, are grossly mischaracterized.

The second chapter of the report, "The Islamophobia Misinformation Experts," begins (on page 27) by listing the Middle East Forum as among,

[F]ive key think tanks led by scholars who are primarily responsible for orchestrating the majority of anti-Islam messages polluting our national discourse today.

The section (beginning on page 41) outlining Pipes's alleged "Islamophobia" includes the usual collection of his quotes, all taken out of context or selectively edited to obscure the fact that he has repeatedly stressed that "militant Islam is the problem, moderate Islam is the solution."

Guilt by association is another favored tactic. The report notes conspiratorially that Norwegian terrorist "Anders [Behring] Breivik cited Pipes and the Middle East Forum eighteen times in his manifesto," while omitting the fact that Breivik referenced figures from all across the political and historical spectrum. As Pipes noted at the time:

While Behring Breivik mentioned we on the Right, he did likewise with the philosophical Left (György Lukács, Karl Marx, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Antonio Gramsci) and Leftist politicians (Tony Blair, Barack Obama). He also mentioned Islamists (Osama bin Laden, Anwar Shaaban).

On page 42, Campus Watch is described as follows:

In 2002, Pipes launched Campus Watch to monitor professors and academics that deviate from Pipes' political ideologies.

Campus Watch was in fact founded for the purpose outlined in our mission statement:

Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum, 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.

Scholarship and objectivity, not promoting anyone's political ideology, are what we seek to bring back to the field of Middle East studies.

Strangely enough, the endnote (79) accompanying the erroneous description of CW provides the URL for the "About Campus Watch" page at our website. Apparently, the authors did not see fit to actually read the page, nor our mission statement, before issuing their unjust verdict.

In Chapter 4, "The Right-Wing Media Enablers of Anti-Islam Propaganda," the authors of the report get in one more dig at Pipes (page 94). In a section on the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which provides English translations of Middle Eastern media, they claim that, "The Middle East Forum's Daniel Pipes also relies on MEMRI for his propaganda." While MEMRI has been cited by Middle East Forum employees and contributors, it is by no means an official partnership, nor are the countless television interviews, articles, and blog posts translated by MEMRI tantamount to "propaganda." Perhaps the authors of this report would prefer that some of the region's unsavory aspects, not to mention the writing of dissidents and reformers, go unnoticed and unremarked upon by the rest of the world.

This suits a pattern throughout the report of conclusions based not on facts, but on sensationalism, fear-mongering, and conspiratorial thinking—all designed to obscure the difference between valid criticism of Islamism and the—according to statistics, rising immigration numbers, and surveys—imaginary persecution of Muslim-Americans.

Update (February 27, 2012): Via the Washington Free Beacon, we now find that one of the authors of the Center for American Progress report, Wajahat Ali, "has ties to a Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organization and is the host of a website known for trafficking in radical, anti-Israel propaganda." The article goes on:

David Reaboi, communications director at the Center for Security Policy, said, 'The Center for American Progress is the chief leftist cog in what could be called the "sharia defense lobby"—a joint effort of Islamists and the far-left to weaken America's national security in the face of the threat of a growing worldwide jihadist movement with genocidal aims. At the center of this cog is Wajahat Ali, whose involvement with Muslim Brotherhood groups and advocacy for convicted terrorists and Hamas fundraisers indicates contempt for American national security and diligent work for the advancement of political Islam.'

This would seem to explain a thing or two about the motivations behind this clearly biased report.

(Posted by Cinnamon Stillwell)