Monday, January 23, 2006

Outed by Campus Watch

I just discovered that, for a time last fall, my photo and a quote from me was featured on the homepage of Daniel Pipes' notorious Campus Watch. It is now in the archive of "Previous Quotes of the Month." Here's the quote:
"Many of the clauses in the new [Iraqi] constitution are 'extremely problematic' when compared to the progressive laws concerning women's rights under the secular regime of Saddam Hussein..."

Campus Watch features quotes without commentary. Presumably from the perspective of Campus Watch, such a claim needs no comment because it is so self-evidently outrageous. From what I know of Campus Watch, I guess Pipes & Co. would claim this statement makes me some kind of Saddamist fellow traveler, and would put it in the category of what they call "apologetics." Incidentally, the link to my statement is wrong, or perhaps no longer exists. I'm pretty sure I was quoted saying this by the University of Arkansas student newspaper, The Traveler, while speaking at a bi-weekly public forum, Diwan Baghdad, that I run with my colleagues Joel Gordon and Najib Ghadbian.

Other quotes in the archive are from usual suspects, such as Rashid Khalidi, Juan Cole, Joel Beinin, and so on. What I find remarkable about all this is that (a) no one ever bothered to inform me that Campus Watch had featured me as a notorious "apologist" Middle East specialist of the month and (b) I received not a single piece of hate mail in response to my presumably extremist, Baathist dead-ender statement. No one, whether friend or foe of Campus Watch, cared much about the matter. So much for the power of Campus Watch to intimidate wayward academics. (Or perhaps it's just that no one thinks it's worth harassing a professor in what many folks on the two coasts consider the boondocks of Arkansas?)

This is not to say that Campus Watch-style forces are not able to harass professors, as can be witnessed by recent reports of the efforts of a right-wing alumni group to pay student informants to gather information on "radical professors." This is juicy stuff, and if you've not seen it, please go here and here.


1 comment:

John Schaefer said...

Alf mabrook! You're in good company...