BLACKLISTING OF PROFESSORS
by Sheila Musaji
Over the past year, there has been an escalating? series of virulently anti-Islamic and anti-Arab statements made by mainstream clergy (Rev. Jerry Falwell, Rev. Pat Robertson, Rev. Franklin Graham , Rev. Jerry Vines, Rev. Robert Morey, etc.), columnists (e.g. Ann Coulter) political leaders (e.g. John Ashcroft, Rep. Chambliss of Georgia) and even the law enforcement officers sworn to protect American citizens (Dearborn Michigan, July 2002).? These bigoted statements have become more and more common.
Side by side with such expressions of prejudice there has been an increasing tendency to connect the religion of Islam with the criminal acts of individuals, and to connect any criticism of Israeli policies, U.S. foreign policy, or defense of Islam with anti-Americanism, bigotry,? or anti-Semitism.? Even the Harvard University President, Lawrence Summers,? in a September 17th speech equated criticism of Israel and a divestment campaign? with actual reprehensible examples of anti-Semitism.
The most recent development appears to be an organized effort to marginalize any scholars who may have questioned any of these policies (particularly Muslim, East Asian or Arab scholars and academics) and to intimidate them into silence.
This effort is focused on a website founded by Daniel Pipes, a promoter of anti-Arab and anti-Islamic prejudice who supports an extreme right-wing version of Zionism. Daniel Pipes and the organizations he is associated with (Middle East Forum and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy) are attempting to cast themselves as the “authentic” sources of information on the Middle East and Islam.
The site, Campus Watch at http://www.campuswatch.org has begun with an initial “blacklist” of? 8 professors and 14 universities that they consider biased and claim “fan the flames of disinformation, incitement and ignorance”, and it proposes to maintain what it calls “dossiers” on professors and academic institutions deemed insufficiently pro-Israel, or too “soft” on Islam, and collect information from students regarding their professors’ scholarly conclusions and political views. The dossiers themselves are flimsy and the conclusions drawn are from out of context quotes, innuendo and guilt by association.? The problem is that most of those incited to react by these materials will not read past the headlines.
The professors are:? M. Shahid Alam, Northeastern University; Juan Cole, University of Michigan; Hamid Dabashi, Columbia University; John Esposito, Georgetown University; Rashid Khalidi, University of Chicago; Joseph Massad, Columbia University; Ali Mazrui, State University of New York, Binghamton; Snehal Shingavi, University of California - Berkeley.
The reasons these professors need monitoring are varied, they may support the Palestinian cause, oppose war in the Middle East, support human rights, have expressed any criticism of Israel, or have defended Islam.? This somehow offends MEF and is seen as contrary to their stated purpose of “defending the interests of America.”
It seems that the only reason that the list of professors is so short is because these have been singled out to be a test case or example to others.? If this tactic is successful, then it seems likely that others will be added and targeted in their turn.?
The “dossiers on institutions” section leads with numerous condemnations of Colorado College for inviting Palestinian activist Hanan Ashrawi to speak at a symposium. Also included are the University of North Carolina where freshmen were assigned readings from the Qur’an, and Harvard where a student delivered the commencement address originally entitled “My American Jihad.”
This organized national campaign to silence academic criticism of Israel and to marginalize American Arabs and Muslims is incompatible with the cherished American values of free speech and inquiry. Such intellectual intimidation also serves to cut off avenues for exploring possibilities for peace.
It is also clear that any reasonable person could have foreseen (particularly in the current political climate) that this McCarthyite tactic of listing individuals in cyberspace could provoke extremists to respond inappropriately. Expression in cyberspace includes a far greater speed of communication and a capacity to convey messages to a far wider audience. This has been the case and has already generated email spamming, hostile or threatening phone calls, internet identity theft, and harassment of the professors named. In some cases the targeted professors’ email communications have been rendered inoperable.
Academic freedom in universities is essential. Free speech is not simply an aspect of academic freedom to be weighed against other possibilities, it is the precondition for academic freedom. Professors and students must be able to exercise their legal rights as citizens, and to express opinions whether or not they agree with the majority. Academic expression of ideas may inspire vigorous debate on social, economic, and political issues that arouse strong passions. This debate of ideas is critical. However, when rather than debate ideas, we instead attempt to tarnish the reputation of the individual expressing the ideas that can only be seen as an attempt to coerce silence or acquiescence.
The Campus Watch Site of the Middle East Forum states that it is “dedicated to defending the interests of America”, however such activities can only harm the interests of America.
PLAN OF ACTION
This requires a reasoned, legal, appropriate and timely response.? If you are concerned about this attempt to silence dissent and limit academic freedom, then,? forward this action alert to as many individuals as possible, and participate in any or all of the following possible responses and do so in a courteous but determined manner.
3- If you are an academic report yourself and ask that you be included in this listing, and ask your students, friends and family to fill out the reports also at http://www.campus-watch.org If you have friends who are academics, ask them if you may report them.? If you are a student, ask your professors if you can report them. The response of Judith Butler, a comparative literature professor at Berkeley might be useful: “I have recently learned that your organization is compiling dossiers on professors at U.S. academic institutions who oppose the Israeli occupation and its brutality, actively support Palestinian rights fo self-determination as well as a more informed and intelligent view of Islam than is currently represented in the U.S. media.? I would be enormously honored to be counted among those who actively hold these positions and would like to be included in the list of those who are struggling for justice.”
4- Write a letter to the administration of the universities of the faculty members listed and encourage their support of these individuals, and express your concerns about these unjustified insinuations and thank the university in advance for whatever they can do to support academic freedom.
5- a) Report any incident of spamming, etc. to your email provider,
b) and if any religious or ethnic statement or threat is made in the text of the emails, then also report these to the FBI internet fraud complaint center at www1.ifccfbi.gov/index.asp where there is an online complaint form.
c) if you have had emails sent out falsely appearing to come from you or your name has been falsely used on internet discussion sites, also report these to the FBI internet fraud complaint center. www1.ifccfbi.gov/index.asp
e) You should also notify one or all of the following of any incidents:
CAIR Hate Crimes Hot line at 1-800-781ISLAM or for an online report form www.cair-net.org/report.?
This is important so that these incidents can be tracked and if a pattern is seen to develop they can pursue this with the appropriate authorities, and we will have documentation of the number of incidents in various categories.
6- Write your congressional representatives, senators, and the media with your concerns about the Middle East Forum, Campus Watch and Washington Institute for Near East Policy (which lists Pipes as an associate).? The points that might be made are that Pipes is guilty of McCarthyite and un-American and undemocratic practices and that the media and congress should disassociate themselves from such demagoguery and bigotry, and that it is surprising that Pipes, MEF and the WINEP seem to be considered legitimate sources of information about the Middle East or Muslims.
Campus Watch self description www.campus-watch.org/about.php
Wall Street Journal? “Pro-Israel Web Site to Monitor Views of U.S. Academia” by Daniel Golden, 9-18-02 http://www.stlimc.org/front.php3?article_id=3425&group=webcast
“Smear Mongers” by Paul de Rooij, 9-24-02 www.counterpunch.org/rooij0924.html
“Web Warfare Comes to America” by Lawrence Davidson 9-23-02 www.counterpunch.org/davidson0922.html
“The Vigilante Thought Police” by Will Youmans 9-23-02 www.counterpunch.org/youmans0922.html
Electronic Intifida Media Watch “Middle East McCarthyism”, Nigel Parry and Ali Abunimah 9-25-02
Pipes and Kramers views of Muslims in the U.S. and in academia:
L.A. Times, “It Matters What Kind of Islam Prevails” by Daniel Pipes 7-22-99 www.danielpipes.org/article/313
National Review Online, “Bin Laden Is A Fundamentalist” by Danield Pipes 10-22-01 www.natioinalreview.com/comment/comment-pipes102201.shtml
Middle East Quarterly Spring 2002 “Jihad 101” by Martin Kramer www.meforum.org/article/160
New York Post 6-25-02 “Extremists on Campus”, Daniel Pipes and Jonathan Schanzer www.meforum.org/article/pipes/424
New York Post 9-17-02 “The War on Campus” by Daniel Pipes www.danielpipes.org/article/465
Interview with Rashid Khalidi http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article718.shtml
“Who Is Daniel Pipes?”, CAIR www.cair-net.org/misc/people/daniel_pipes.html
Israel Lobby Watch http://electronicintifada.net/v2/israellobbywatch.shtml
Professors Ask to Join Daniel Pipes’ “Blacklist”, by Tamar Lewin, 9-27-02, New York Times, www.nytimes.com/2002/09/27/education/27coll.html
Trio of Bay Area Universities Monitored for anti-Semitism, by Carrie Sturrock, 9-21-02, Contra Costa Times, www.bayarea.com/mld/cctimes/4121173.htm
Paranoia at Harvard, by Eileen McNamara, 9-22-02 Boston Globe Online, www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/265/metro/Paranoia_at_HarvardP.shtml
Harvard Chief’s Comments Criticized, by Theo Emery, Associated Press, www.beliefnet.com/story/113/story_11349.html
Also see the new student site “Campus Watch Watch” at http://www.campus-watch-watch.com/
UPDATE: Yesterday, 9-29-02 the Campus Watch site removed the listing of professors and their dossiers. Now there is just a list of institutions. The section for providing information to Campus Watch is still there.
posted 9-28-2002, updated 9-30