Middle East studies in the News
Nine Professors At Columbia Are 'Dangerous'
by Alec Magnet
Nine of the "101 Most Dangerous Academics in America" teach at Columbia University, according to a new book by conservative activist David Horowitz.
The book, "The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America," published by Regnery, profiles 101 professors from campuses across the country.
"Columbia is a national scandal," Mr. Horowitz told The New York Sun in a telephone interview. "That a serious, top-tier university ... is an ideological fortress is an emblem of the utter debasement of the academic endeavor."
His book lists several professors from the university's department of Middle East and Asian languages and cultures, including Joseph Massad, who emerged as the central figure in a series of student complaints over anti-Israel bias and classroom bullying.
"Among a faculty distinguished more for its militancy and political activism than its scholarship, Professor Massad is in a radical class of his own," Mr. Horowitz writes. On January 13, the Sun reported that Mr. Massad's prejudice and intimidation contributed to the decision of one student, Anat Malkin, to drop out of her graduate program after two years. This semester, Columbia promoted Mr. Massad to associate professor, a position from which he can receive tenure.
Mr. Horowitz also criticizes the dean of Columbia's School of International Public Affairs, Lisa Anderson, for her sponsorship of Mr. Massad and her fundraising from Arab sources for an Edward Said chair in Middle Eastern studies.
The Sun in January reported that Ms. Anderson had along with several other Columbia professors taken a junket to Saudi Arabia paid for by the kingdom-owned oil company, Saudi Aramco.
Mr. Massad and Ms. Anderson did not return requests for comment. Nor did the holder of the Edward Said chair, Rashid Khalidi.
Other Columbia professors Mr. Horowitz censured did respond, criticizing the book's interpretations, importance, and research.
"I was flattered to be included, despite the inaccuracies and false innuendos, although I didn't and don't feel I have earned the right (either as a professor or a clear and present danger) to be on such a list," a Columbia journalism professor who is the editor of the Nation and chairman of the Columbia Journalism Review, Victor Navasky, told the Sun in an e-mail message.
A professor of American history, Eric Foner, whom Mr. Horowitz describes as an "apologist for American Communism," said in an e-mail, "Mr. Horowitz's 'chapter' on me is full of errors, beginning with the long quote with which he opens, which was written by someone else, not me. This is a fair example of the reliability of his work. But to get into a debate about Horowitz is a waste of time, and accords his attacks a legitimacy they do not deserve."
Mr. Horowitz attributes to Mr. Foner a statement by the late author and journalist, Paul Foot, from a collection of responses to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In the same feature, which ran in the October 4 issue of the London Review of Books, Mr. Foner wrote: "I'm not sure which is more frightening: the horror that engulfed New York City or the apocalyptic rhetoric emanating daily from the White House."
A professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia, Todd Gitlin, said Mr. Horowitz misinterpreted two of his essays as anti-American. "In fact, the burden of these essays is exactly the contrary. In both essays, I distinguish between the country that is worthy of respect and allegiance and the government policies that are not."
Mr. Gitlin said he was not present at a March 2003 anti-war "teach-in" at Columbia when another Columbia professor the book criticizes, Nicholas De Genova, called for "a million Mogadishus" - a reference to a 1993 incident in Somalia in which 18 American servicemen were killed. Had Mr. Gitlin been present for or heard about the remark, he said, "I would have expressed my disgust."
Mr. De Genova, who is another of the "101 most dangerous" professors, did not return requests for comment.
A spokeswoman for Columbia, Susan Brown, said the university's professors "are among the most preeminent scholars in their fields. They and the university take seriously the responsibility to expose students to the modern world in all its complexity and to foster greater understanding of its diverse cultures and political systems."
"Columbia is one of the most diverse institutions of higher education in the world and a place where all students can flourish, regardless of their background, race, or religion," she added.
Other Columbia professors criticized by Mr. Horowitz were Gil Anidjar, Hamid Dabashi, and Manning Marable.
New York University is home to only one of the 101 professors Mr. Horowitz profiles, Derrick Bell, a law professor who left Harvard Law School.
The Graduate Center of the City University of New York has two professors on the Horowitz list, Eve Kosofky Sedgwick, whom teaches English, and Stanley Aronowitz, who Mr. Horowitz quotes as saying that what he most enjoys about his publicly funded position is "the ability to procrastinate and control my own work time, especially its pace: taking a walk in the middle of the day, reading between the writing, listening to a CD or tape anytime I want, calling up a friend for a chat."
Two of the professors on the list teach at Brooklyn College, Priya Parmar and Timothy Shortell, and one at City College, Leonard Jeffries, a black studies professor.
Mr. Horowitz argues that the professors should be seen as representative of academia as a whole.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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