Campus Watch in the Media
Controversial visiting lecturer describes militant Islam
by Melissa George
Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum and member on the Department of Defense's Special Task Force on Terrorism delivered a speech entitled "Militant Islam Reaches America" Tuesday to a standing-room only audience amid visible security and protests.
The lecture, held in the Kerr Auditorium of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, was sponsored by the Judaic Studies Program and the Department of History.
OUPD estimated more than 225 people attended the lecture in Kerr Auditorium or watched via closed circuit television in another museum facility.
Addressing coverage by The Oklahoma Daily and protests centering around the Middle East Forum's Web site, www.campus-watch.org, and possible dossiers it may contain, Pipes began his lecture by saying he and his organization were "not seeking to impede anyone's freedom of speech, not seeking to derail anyone's career."
"We believe it is perfectly keeping with freedom of speech and we hope you do too."
Pipes said President George W. Bush is wrongly vague on these subjects of the government's enemy or goal.
He went on to say militant Islam "offers Islam as the solution whatever the question may be," different from a normal reading of Islam, which acknowledges differences of opinion.
He said militant Islam is characterized with a "deep hostility" to those who disagree.
He said the first victims of this philosophy are Muslims, and that this view dates back only about 80 years, despite belief that it is pre-modern.
Pipes described militant Islam as a variant of the more European fascism and Marxist Leninism rather than the traditional comparison to fundamental Christianity.
Pipes said he believes all militant Islam is bad, whether its believers are violent or not.
"It's all part of the same project," he said.
"They seek not conversion, but power."
Saying militant Islam is caused by "a sense that the world is not going well, (that) things are radically wrong," he dismissed the idea that militant Islam is caused by poverty or international policy, though he admitted that the later can exacerbate the problem.
"It is not about economics, it is not about Iraq or the Arab-Israeli conflict."
The focus on America began in 1979 with attacks on American embassies in Tehran and Islamabad, not with Sept. 11, Pipes said.
Now, he said, "Our goal must be to destroy militant Islam," adding this would not necessarily involve killing.
More than a dozen people stood in line to ask Pipes questions after the lecture, eliciting responses from him.
Sade Ralph, an officer with OUPD, said the security response, which included at least five visible officers in the auditorium was "pretty typical," though he declined to comment on how much security was present.
Before the lecture began, he said there was no indication of a threat, though added this was subject to change at any time.
Protesters representing the Arab Student Association at OU and OU students against war passed out flyers outside of the museum entitled "Defense of Academic Freedom" and "Daniel Pipes in his own words."
Kristin Suamas, a representative of the Arab Student Association, said the organization was not protesting his right to speak.
Rather, she said, "we want to make sure that people realize that he is irresponsible" and a racist.
She said that the dossiers on professors were not removed from Pipes' Web site Campus-Watch, but rather relocated.Note: Postings in "Campus Watch in the Media" do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch.
Campus Watch contact e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org