No One Should Be Muffled in the Halls of Academia
Re “From the Halls of Academia,” Commentary, Dec. 27:
Daniel Pipes has designated himself to the position of the “thought police.” He wants us all to be on the same page, dancing to the same music played by the Bush administration.
Anyone with common sense can sniff out the truth of this relentless war song. It is quite obvious that the first thing a big lie cannot stand is dissent. Why is that? Mr. Pipes, are you afraid of the truth coming out?
Pipes is absolutely correct in his analysis that American colleges have evolved into bastions of compulsory politically correct speech that deny the airing of any competing or contrary view.
Unlike the past and traditional role of academia, finding free speech on campus is rare indeed.
Michael G. Miller
Now director of the Middle East Forum, Pipes is an academician. He espouses the thesis that Islam today is comparable to Nazism before 1945. I believe his comparison is an extremist view. Still, it is an academic view, and Pipes himself is a member of the academic establishment he condemns.
Pipes would not be able to expound his extreme view were it not for the open forum of ideas that is protected by academic institutions in this country. Yet he would silence other voices. More important than Pipes’ view, or anyone else’s, is the open marketplace of ideas. All academicians should be free to speak out and offer data to support their views.
In response to Pipes, I would counter that the jihadism of Osama bin Ladin does not represent Islam historically or contemporaneously. Jihadism is like ultra-messianism in Judaism and Christian Identity in Christianity -- a heretical mandate for violence espoused by a tiny, terrorist elite.
Jean E. Rosenfeld
Pipes argues that America’s universities need to become more mature, responsible and patriotic. Perhaps he needs to walk across a couple of university campuses and observe the behavior of several of today’s freshmen. These are children, really, who have never had to support themselves. This is part of the disconnect between Pipes and students today. These kids are not that far removed from MTV. This is why professors feel free to use the classroom for their own political agendas.
How do I come by my insights? I’m the first of my family to graduate from college, beginning after serving one tour of duty in the military. Americans are growing soft. The university cannot be a maturing process for young minds. Mental toughness, having been there and done that, needs to be a prerequisite for taking up a seat in college. Students need to compare and contrast the outside world with what their professors would have them believe. Professors still have the power to wield grades, but at least with debate, both sides can learn.
Daly City, Calif.
Pipes pines for America’s campuses to return to the good old days of a “politically balanced environment, as it was before the 1960s.” No women; few blacks; quotas on Jews: I nominate Pipes for the Trent Lott Chair in Social Philosophy.
Daryl G. Nickens