Setting The Record Straight
Campus Watch corrects false allegations made against it.
Dorit Naaman, Alliance Atlantis Professor of Film and Media at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, is the latest far-left academic to attack Campus Watch for various alleged--and demonstrably false--offenses against helpless professors who, after all, want only to bring peace and goodwill to the Middle East.
But, alas, although her attack is fresh, her ideas are stale. Indeed, they are practically fossilized, like some long-extinct creature whose dusty remains are trotted out by an aging antiquarian eager to enthrall his guests with tales from the Pleistocene.
Naaman is vexed that various Canadian organizations, including B'nai Brith Canada, objected to a conference--held last June at York University--by (you'd better sit down) taking out a full-page ad in the National Post objecting to the conference.
Such is the stuff from which conspiracy theories are born, at least in Naaman's mind. Because, you see, other organizations were involved. She names a few, but of course Campus Watch isn't among them. We couldn't be: we had nothing to do with the ad or with any objections to the conference at York U.
But for conspiracy theorists like Naaman, absence is proof, silence is conviction. She writes:
Taking it from the top, Naaman present as evidence that objections to the York conference were part of some grand strategy a 2004 guide, "Tenured or Tenuous." A document has been found. It is in the form of a handbook. It's available on-line. Voila! Why, it couldn't be anything but a "well-coordinated and well-financed trans-Atlantic strategy" to silence critics of Israel. It's obvious!
Naaman then commits several errors in her characterization of CW, the first of which is to pull us into the vortex of her conspiracy theory. That's what conspiracy theories do, of course--no organization or individual is safe from their centripetal force.
Campus Watch invites comments from students. That a professor would characterize this as asking students to "spy" reveals much about that professor's attitude toward her students and her profession. Given Naaman's stated concerns about free speech on campus, is she not overtly violating her principles when she restricts free speech to her own kind (professors) while casting aspersions on others (students)? Free speech for me, but not for thee, Prof. Naaman? Why should students not be free to speak about what they hear in the classroom? Is the knowledge proferred in college classrooms--in the humanities, no less--to be treated as industrial secrets, so that those who reveal such knowledge to the public may be freely accused of industrial espionage (that is, spies)?
As for attacking professors who criticize Israel, such a charge is both tiresome and absurd (CW founder Daniel Pipes has criticized Israel many times). Our mission is to call attention to tendentious, politized scholarship and teaching within the broad field of Middle East studies.
Finally, we come to what is the single most hackneyed, unoriginal charge one can make against CW: that we engage in McCarthyism. As I have written on the falseness of this charge countless times, I can only repeat that CW cannot engage in McCarthyism, and would not if we could. We hold no governmental power; we cannot issue subpoenas; we cannot silence anyone. We critique scholars, and in response--for the offense of objecting to some of their work--we are charged with attempting to silence them. Only in the rarified (read, thin) air of academe is criticism equated with censorship.
Conspiracy theory mongering, hurling false charges against critics: these are the tactics of those who must rely on ad hominem attacks in lieu of argument. It is intellectually lazy, and I expect it to continue indefinitely.
(Posted by Winfield Myers)
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