Following the launch of “Campus Watch”, a new Daniel Pipes project to monitor the views of Middle East Studies lecturers on campuses, EI’s Nigel Parry interviewed academic Juan Cole about how he felt to be one of the professors on which a “dossier” had been opened.
On 29 September 2002, EI noticed that the “dossiers” appear to have been removed from the Campus Watch website, although the basic content and aims of the site remain unchanged.
Nigel Parry: Were you aware of this website prior to this message? If so, how?
Juan Cole: No.
Nigel Parry: What are your initial feelings about the project?
Juan Cole: I am a public intellectual employed by a state university and expect what I say to be known and scrutinized. The one caveat is that judging from their examination essays, students are not always really good reporters of the substance of my lectures, and there is always danger of being misquoted or having an oral statement taken out of context and put on a Web site.
Nigel Parry: Have you noticed any monitoring on your campus? Have other faculty reported any such monitoring?
Juan Cole: No signs yet.
Nigel Parry: Do you feel this will affect academic freedom on campus? How?
Juan Cole: No, I can’t see how it would matter.
Nigel Parry: Have you experienced pressure as a result of your views on the Middle East or any aspect of it? Has this come from the institution, faculty, students, or a mixture?
Juan Cole: No.
Nigel Parry: What other trends to quash free debate about the Middle East have you noted in your institution, if any?
Juan Cole: No, free debate flourishes on this campus.
Nigel Parry: What do you think is the best antidote to this kind of project by the pro-Israel lobby?
Juan Cole: I don’t feel comfortable categorizing Pipes as the “pro-Israeli lobby”. He is just a rather extreme Likudnik who has made statements about immigrants lacking ‘German standards of hygiene,’ and we all know where to place such statements on an ideological and historical spectrum.
Anyway, the best way to conduct human affairs is the maximization of information, and so I hope Pipes and his cohort will also have their arguments publicly scrutinized, as well.