This morning it came, quite accidentally but also fortuitously, to my attention that the notorious “Campus Watch” website, overseen by Daniel Pipes, responded to the Ibishblog posting from June 29 entitled, “The Massad tenure case: time for the campus thought police to close up shop.” Campus Watch shamelessly and preposterously denies that it has any intention of having an effect on the hiring and promotion of faculty involved in Middle East studies or who express opinions on Middle Eastern related political matters. Anyone who has visited that site is now fighting the urge to disintegrate into peals of hysterical laughter. It’s a little like a lobbying group claiming to have no intention of influencing policy or legislation. What, pray tell, is it there for, then? Why create this index of offenses and offenders, this virtual blacklist, if not precisely to chill speech and, ultimately, to influence not only academic conduct, but academic hiring and promotion as well? The claim is absurd, and they know it.
But an even more blatant lie, on a more specific but more easily testable matter, is also proffered in this exceptionally dishonest response, to wit:
Demonstrating further that Ibish has neglected to do his homework, he makes the following allegation:
“Organizations like Daniel Pipes’ notorious ‘campus watch,’ which had in its initial mission statement an overtly racist complaint about the number of Arab and Middle Eastern professors in Middle East studies departments…”
Campus Watch’s mission statement has never contained any language pertaining to the ethnic background of Middle East studies professors. Ibish is likely referring to an article co-authored by Norvell B. De Atkine and Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes in 1995, long before Campus Watch came into existence, titled, "Middle Eastern Studies: What Went Wrong?" The article examines the benefits and problems associated with the growing number of academics of Middle Eastern origin in the field of Middle East studies, none of them based on racist language or assertions.
In English, we call this a lie. But you need not take my word for it, even though I have this all amply recorded in both my files and my memory. Campus Watch’s initial mission statement is, in fact, readily available through the invaluable “Wayback Machine” which stores images of websites archived by dates. The earliest capture of the Campus Watch site is from October 1, 2002. This incontrovertibly establishes that the initial “about us” section of Campus Watch included the following statement:
Middle East studies in the United States has become the preserve of Middle Eastern Arabs, who have brought their views with them. Membership in the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), the main scholarly association, is now 50 percent of Middle Eastern origin.
It is therefore plainly the fact that Campus Watch’s mission statement did indeed contain overtly racist language pertaining to the ethnic background of Middle East studies professors. It cast the presence of “Middle Eastern Arabs” as a problem in Middle East studies, and bemoaned the fact that MESA’s membership “is now 50 percent of Middle Eastern origin.” Campus Watch’s denials are nothing more than blatant lies, which are easily exposed with a simple click of the mouse. It typifies everything about their approach to their work and their engagement with the academic world.
Which brings us back to the question of tenure. True enough their present site, while plainly designed to chill speech and obstruct hirings and promotions, is chockablock with denials that it intends to do any such thing. But just in case anyone had any doubts that this, too, is a blatant lie, a consultation of the October 2002 website will confirm that its “main goals” were then listed as including the intention to, “Identify key faculty who teach and write about contemporary affairs at university Middle East Studies departments in order to analyze and critique the work of these specialists for errors or biases,” and, “Keep the public apprised of course syllabi, memos, debates over appointments and funding, etc.”
In other words, at its inception Campus Watch made no bones about its intention of identifying “key faculty” with which it disagrees and indeed engaging with questions involving funding and appointments. That they have had subsequently to back off from saying so directly, because this was an effort at overt outside interference in academic questions such as hiring and tenure which should obviously be independent of political bullying by fanatics of any variety, including Mr. Pipes and his employees, does nothing to diminish the very obvious fact that they are continuing with the project they began in 2002. In the end, it is all about compiling a McCarthyite or Nixonian enemies list of “key faculty” and poisoning the atmosphere with regard to their potential funding and appointments.
Anyone who cares about academic freedom and integrity should be delighted at the spectacular degree to which this project has failed, and amused by Campus Watch’s efforts to deny what they not only blatantly and shamelessly do, but also what they used to publicly boast was their founding and core intention.