Campus Watch in the Media
York Professor Irving Abella's Comments on YUFA's Statement
February 10, 2003
From: Irving Abella
Sent: Monday, February 10, 2003 9:20 PM
Subject: Daniel Pipes
Dear Professor Dimock;
I was saddened - and yes, startled - to receive your message of January 28 regarding Professor Daniel Pipes. Back in the early 1970s I was one of the early organizers of YUFA and served on its executive in its parlous first few years. I never imagined that a union I helped create and that supposedly represents me, would issue a statement so at odds with the values I believe are so crucial in the university. After all, what are we about if we do not encourage open and free debate and if we do not permit a variety of opinions on a variety of subjects.
I have known Professor Pipes for over 20 years. I have read many of his writings and we have participated together in many conferences and panels. And in those 20 years I have never heard him say anything racist. Calling him one, as you did, is a cheap shot. Simply because you and your colleagues disagree with him does not make him a racist. Professor Pipes position is very simple, and it is one he repeats in his articles and books, and in his talk at York. He is critical of militant Islam. But he argues that the solution is moderate Islam. If that makes him a racist than so is most of the Western world and so are most Moslems.
As for Campus Watch, it has nothing to do with "hatred... intolerance... spying,,, and ,,, intimidation" as you claim. Check it out sometime. You will find that it consists almost entirely of published articles by and about academics who teach in the fields of Islamic or Middle East studies. There is nothing McCarthyist about it. Provocative, perhaps. Racist, absolutely not.
If you really wanted to protest a racist speaker, why was there such a deafening silence from YUFA when a visiting academic who has called Israel a Nazi state and described Jews as "little Hitlers" recently lectured on campus. He spoke without incident. Nor were there any mass demonstrations to keep him off campus as there were for Professor Pipes in which our union, shamefully, played a leading role. There are many contentious issues on campus. There should be; this is, after all, a university. But for a faculty union to attempt to stifle debate, and to do so in the name of freedom of speech is both odious and Orwellian.
YUFA speaks for us all. It does not just speak for some of us. Our members do not just have one point of view. They have many. I trust you will take that into account in the future.
Shiff Professor of HistoryNote: Postings in "Campus Watch in the Media" do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch.
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