There is no university more supportive of the Arab nationalist (historically), Islamist and anti-Israel line in the US than Georgetown U.
One day in 1975, not long before he died, the great professor Carroll Quigley walked up to me when I was sitting in the GU library.
Everyone was in awe of this brilliant lecturer (remind me to write him a tribute explaining why). I thought he might have remembered me from my extended explanation of why I was late for class one day – I had rescued a sparrow and taken it to a veterinarian (true, by the way). I couldn’t think of another reason he would want to talk to such a lowly person.
“May I sit down?” he asked.
“Of course!” I said, stopping myself from adding that it was an honor.
Without any small talk, he launched into a subject that clearly weighed on his conscience: “There are many who don’t like your people.”
What was he talking about? Jews? He explained that he had just come from a meeting where it had been made clear that the university had a problem: It was getting Arab money, but on the secret condition that while it was for teaching about the Middle East, none of it could be used to teach about Israel. The purpose of the meeting had been how to solve this problem. The solution? Simple: They would call the institution to be created the “Center for Contemporary Arab Studies.” It was explicitly expressed that this was how the problem would be dealt with.
Quigley expressed his disgust to me.
Ever since then, I have referred to that institution as the “Center for Contemporary Arab Money.”
Georgetown University also accepted tens of thousands of dollars from Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi – who was, of course, very active in promoting anti-American terrorism – to establish an endowed chair in Middle East studies. When the university president backed down due to bad publicity, the professor who had been named to the post responded by calling the Jesuit university president a “Jesuit Zionist.”
This same professor – and I am not joking when I say that by today’s standards he was a fine scholar and comparatively decent man – was a personal friend of Palestinian terrorist leader Nayif Hawatmeh, and an outspoken Marxist.
To his credit, he told me in 1974 on a visit of mine to Lebanon, “One day we will be ashamed of all the terrorism [against Israel].”
But I don’t think he ever spoke out publicly.
At my PhD oral exams, he said something like: “I don’t care whether you believe it or not, but give the Marxist analysis of development in the Middle East.” He did not ask me to critique it.
As a Marxist, even though he was the son of a Muslim imam he did participate in the traditional glass of scotch after they passed me. And they did pass me, something I doubt would happen today. These professors really did believe in scholarship and balance in the classroom.
ANOTHER PROFESSOR, however (I was sure he was not on my board – I had had open arguments with him), was an example of the new generation of indoctrinators. He had served in the Peace Corps and adopted two Kurdish children in the shah era. This teacher’s radicalism and knee-jerk hatred of Israel was so terrible that we used to joke about it. A right-wing Zionist in the class conducted an experiment: He wrote an exaggerated Marxist anti-Israel rant. It read like satire. He got an “A” from this professor. In retrospect, however, we should have seen that this wasn’t an exception, but a sign of far worse to come.
In one graduate seminar, yet another professor – an older anti-Israel guy but still a conservative and a gentleman of the old school – couldn’t stop the class from laughing as it discussed the ridiculous new book Orientalism, by Edward Said. We easily pointed out the holes in the book and Said’s claims of perpetual Western bias against Arabs. We viewed Orientalism itself as outdated but respectable, too anthropological and generalizing for our tastes. We saw ourselves as historians and social scientists.
But the idea that Orientalists were agents of imperialism was untrue. They were great scholars, though some did do political work in which their views weren’t shaped but often mistakenly implemented, just like such things happen today. Who would have believed that this ignorant and malicious book could ever take over the entire field and destroy scholarship? I guess we should have known, based on the fate of the professor I had openly argued with. He was the new-style leftist referred to above, the kind typical today. While I disliked him, he was clearly not a racist but the very model of the new Politically Correct falsifier.
Ironically, he was fired after being accused by an African student of alleged racial bias because he gave the student a low grade. No kidding.
I didn’t feel this was a victory, however, but rather that he had been mistreated. I faced similar situations. I will never forget how my job interview at another university, the only time I ever applied for a teaching position, was interrupted by one professor screaming at me, “How could you ever possibly represent the narrative of the Palestinian people?” To which I responded that obviously, I didn’t think I was supposed to represent it, merely teach about it.
Note that the professor at that interview who would have been willing to hire me was an Arab liberal. But he tried to hint to my naive younger self why I didn’t have a chance. You should understand that at that time, in the early 1980s, I had never written about the Arab-Israeli conflict. And although this professor had me in his Arabic class, I don’t think he remembered me, and I’m certain he knew nothing about me. No, I think the problem was my last name.
ALL OF this reminiscing is prompted by a news story I just read. An Arab professor at Georgetown, a place flush with Arab money, full of apologists for anti-American Islamism, a place where no Israeli or pro- Israel student dares to tread, has just launched a campaign claiming that he was discriminated against and fired for anti- Israel bias! So this is the long-term strategy: Take over a university or at least the relevant departments; spend 30 years or more in biased hiring practices and dishonest, propagandist “scholarship”; and no matter how many insiders know the truth, keep claiming the university is biased against the Left and defamers of America and Israel.
Those who don’t know better may believe it. The problem for this Egyptian professor is that there was no organized campaign against him, and no one outside the university even knew who he was. The fact is that his scholarly work, while highly politicized, wasn’t very good. Obscure media appearances are (as of yet) not sufficient to demonstrate academic excellence.
You could call this the “Juan Cole principle” after a radical professor whose pronouncements on contemporary Middle East issues were frequent – even though he was a specialist on religious disputes in the Middle Ages – and who missed out on a good job because of his lack of scholarly work, then claimed bias.This tactic was sufficient in one notorious case at Columbia University for a crackpot extremist to get a promotion, although it didn’t work at Duke University. At any rate, we now see that crying bias is the first refuge of scoundrels. The real victims never get far enough along in the process for them to build a case and can never muster support from a biased media, either.