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Setting The Record Straight

Campus Watch corrects false allegations made against it.

Response to:

Our Ignorance and Our Interests: Why We Need to Learn More, Not Less, about Islam and the Arab World
by James Zogby
The Huffington Post
October 9, 2010

Categories:
False allegations of suppressing free speech
Misc. Corrections
False accusations of being part of a lobby or conspiracy
False allegations of connections to other organizations

Campus Watch Responds:

James Zogby, a pollster who is president of the Arab American Institute, displays the paranoid style and makes multiple factual errors in his Huffington Post attack on imagined enemies of scholarship on Arabs and the Middle East.

After lamenting what he sees as Americans' ignorance of all things Arab, Zogby spins a conspiracy theory:

Recognizing this as a problem has led some to call for improvements and expansion of programs in Arabic, Arab history and Islam. But this has not been without challenges. An organization headed by Lynne Cheney, wife of then Vice-President Dick Cheney, pushed back arguing that adding courses in these areas merely 'reinforced the mindset that it was... America's failure to understand Islam that were [sic] to blame' for 9/11! And a group of conservative professional anti-Arab activists pressed for Congressional legislation to monitor and serve as a check on 'pro-Arab' curricula. They even launched an organized effort, called 'Campus Watch', encouraging students to report teachers who are 'pro-Arab' or 'pro-Muslim'. This same cast of characters was responsible for the movement to shut down the Kahlil Gibran academy, New York's first-ever dual language Arabic-English school.

Let's get Zogby's charges straight: a shadowy, unnamed "organization," headed by Lynne Cheney--the then-V.P.'s wife, no less--fought to prevent any increase in learning about the Arab world, and "they" (there's always an ambiguous "they" in conspiracy theories) founded Campus Watch to attack "'pro-Arab'" and "'pro-Muslim'" teachers? Say what?

Campus Watch does not now, nor has it ever, had any connections whatsoever to Lynne Cheney (or her husband, or even his former boss). It was founded not by an "organization" (at least he didn't say "family," as in Cosa Nostra), but by an individual, Daniel Pipes, in September, 2002. (Ah, the conspiracy-mongerer will reply: just ahead of the invasion of Iraq, the better to neutralize any scholarly opposition to the war!)

Where did Zogby find the terms "pro-Arab" and "pro-Muslim," which he places within quotation marks? This sleight of hand makes it look as if he's lifted them from some Campus Watch material. But there is no such material now, and there has never been such material in the past, either in public or in private. The charge is demonstrably false and absurd.

Campus Watch is happy to hear from students who have legitimate complaints about their professors. Most often, these evince politicized scholarship and teaching, bullying students, and substituting agitprop for education. CW acts without regard to the nationality, ethnicity, or religious beliefs of students and professors alike.

Zogby's errors in writing a simple blog post--including conspiracy-theory-mongering and getting basic facts about CW wrong--hardly serve to increase one's faith in the care he takes to get his facts straight while going about his day job.

(Posted by Winfield Myers)

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