If you’ve followed the war on terror with any degree of care, you know that Daniel Pipes has been a major player in our debates over what to do about militant Islam. To his great credit, Pipes was one of the very few scholars who warned the country, well before September 11, of the potential terrorist threat stemming from militant Islam. Pipes is both a serious scholar of contemporary Islam and a tireless advocate for a policy that takes the threat of militant Islam seriously — while still encouraging the forces of liberalism within Islam. I don’t always agree with Daniel Pipes, although I often do. But I never fail to respect his knowledge, his courage, and his insight. I have long supported Daniel Pipes in his important efforts to expose bias in the academic study of the Middle East. This country needs to hear Daniel Pipes’s views on the war on terror. Would that we had taken them more seriously before September 11.
President Bush agrees. He has nominated Daniel Pipes to the board of directors of the United States Institute of Peace. Yet Pipes’s nomination is being strenuously opposed by some Muslim Americans, who claim that Pipes is an “Islamophobe.” That opposition is an attempt to discredit Pipes, thus effectively silencing one of the most powerful and knowledgeable voices for the energetic prosecution, at home and abroad, of the war against terror. This must not be allowed to happen.
Now, Gerard Alexander, a professor of political science at the University of Virginia, with no special connection to Pipes, has circulated a petition in support of Pipes’s nomination to the USIP. The petition has been signed by a number of eminent figures, including former U.N. ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick, military historian Sir John Keegan, and prominent scholars like James Q. Wilson, Harvard’s Harvey Mansfield, Yale’s Donald Kagan, and Cornell’s Jeremy Rabkin. Most impressively, even some prominent figures who frequently disagree with Pipes have signed the statement in support of his nomination. These include the New Republic’s Martin Peretz, Johns Hopkins University professor Fouad Ajami, and Yale’s Paul Kennedy.
The charges of anti-Muslim bigotry against Pipes, say the signers, are “systematically inaccurate and inappropriate:”
[Pipes] has consistently made efforts to distinguish moderate Islam from its extremist offshoots. He is no bigot. As a result, Pipes’ supporters include Christians, Jews, and a substantial number of moderate Muslims. His positions have provoked debate. But the claim that these positions are extreme is as inaccurate as the claim that Dr. Pipes is a bigot is grossly unfair. Dr. Pipes’ positions lie well within the broad mainstream of national discussion over these pressing issues.
You can also find an account of the battle over Pipes’s nomination, and a long series of testimonials on his behalf from public writers (myself included) at Frontpage magazine. Given the depth and eminence of this support, should the Pipes nomination be rejected, it would have very serious consequences for our public debates over the war on terror. If someone like Pipes, who has achieved this much prominence and respect, is unable to successfully serve our government, it could have a chilling effect on frank public discussion of the key issues in the battle against foreign and domestic terrorism. Congress must not allow that to happen. It must approve the nomination of Daniel Pipes to the United States Institute of Peace.
Hearings on the Pipes nomination will be held Wednesday, July 23, by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. A website has been created to support the Pipes nomination. And you can find information on how to write a letter to the members of the committee here.
— Stanley Kurtz is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.