What’s going on with Middle East Studies? Lot’s. Laurie Brand, the new president of MESA (the Middle East Studies association), just delivered a fire breathing presidential address where she raised questions about the legitimacy of accepting any funds–even, say, Fulbright scholarships–from the tainted, imperialist, American government. I don’t expect Brand’s audience to act on this any time soon. On the contrary, professors of Middle East Studies seem to have no trouble accepting federal funds with one hand, while they trying to discourage their students from serving the government with the other. Even so, it would be interesting to see if Brand might be willing to extend her abhorrence of tainted funds to, say, the Sultan Program in Arab Studies at U.C. Berkeley (named after the Saudi defense minister). Meanwhile, Juan Cole, MESA’s president elect, appears to be caught up in some striking conflicts.