Volume 96, Issue 89
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

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Daniel Pipes evokes Mustang response

On Monday Mar. 11, only months after speaking under heavy security at York University, Daniel Pipes, a controversial Middle East expert, spoke without much public harassment at Western. Frustration over Pipes's opinions and The Gazette's coverage are expressed below.

Re: "Controversial speaker takes the 'Pipe' to militant Islam," Mar. 11

To the Editor:

The Gazette's entire approach to the speech by Daniel Pipes was so immature it was painful. From the caption about his "thumb" under the front page picture, to the play on his name in the article title, to the meaningless comic that was obviously fashioned out of the most rudimentary knowledge of Mr. Pipes work, this coverage was obviously tailored to the lowest common denominator.

Last time I checked, we were at a university. Between the article that ended by saying that Mr. Pipes ignored counter-arguments (which he actually spent a half hour discussing) and the silliness of the rest of the coverage, I would think that Tuesday's Gazette was a Grade 6 homework assignment, not a student newspaper that we each shell out countless dollars to produce. Please, Gazette staff, grow up. If you don't understand what Mr. Pipes was discussing, just stick to writing about O-Week and bar closings. Stop insulting the intelligence of those who care about political issues.

Peter L. McFadden
Political Science I

Re: "Western's bathroom walls a haven for hate," Mar. 13

To the Editor:

Kudos to The Gazette for reminding us all that hate is still alive and well on our campus. Indeed it is; so much so, that a man who portrays chronic unemployment and an inclination towards rape as Muslim customs is welcomed in this university as a scholar and described by this paper as someone who "promotes dialogue on the Middle East."

In an article Pipes wrote almost a year ago concerning Muslims in Denmark, he roundly stated that "extremism is just one problem associated with Denmark's approximately 200,000 Muslim immigrants."

Alas, in addition to extremism, what else should the Danes worry about? Well, according to Pipes, the fact that Muslims "constitute five per cent of the population, but consume upwards of 40 per cent of the welfare spending." Or, that "Muslims make up a majority of the country's convicted rapists." Not scared yet? Well, perhaps that's because you weren't aware that this was an "especially combustible issue given that practically all the female [rape] victims are non-Muslim."

So what is a country to do with these incorrigible Muslims? Well, for one, they could elect an ultra-right wing party – as Denmark did – and clamp down on immigration. Or, as Pipes promoted in another one of his articles ("Counting Mosques"), truly vigilant states can take their efforts one step further and place every single mosque under surveillance. After all, Pipes insists, "Mosques throughout the West have been used as a base for terror."

Starting to feel a little bit queasy? If not, then try a mind trick that really ought to get your stomach going: pick up a black pen and scan this letter for references to Muslims and then cross them out and replace them with references to Natives, African-Americans, Latinos or any voiceless minority of your choice. Now read the letter one more time.

Mohammed Loubani
Medicine I

"Re: "Controversial speaker takes the 'Pipe' to militant Islam," Mar. 11

To the Editor:

Daniel Pipes is at best an American propagandist and at worst a "neo-orientalist." It was entirely disappointing to see Western's student body come out in droves (including an advance ticket campaign) for such a poor analysis of key issues in contemporary geo-politics, while the United Nations Arab Human Development Symposium of last year barely filled half the room.

Fortunately, Abdelrahman Lawendy (a member of the audience quoted in The Gazette's article) was there to respond with a far more balanced analysis in his three minute question, than Pipes could provide in his entire 40 minute presentation.

David Bodrug
Honours History III

To the Editor:

Daniel Pipes bottom line was that militant Islam is the enemy in the war on terrorism and that it must be conquered and replaced with moderate Islam. I have a number of concerns with his speech.

Pipes began his lecture by stating that we must identify the problem behind terrorism before we can fix it, yet he dismissed a role for United States foreign policy in stoking the fires of terrorism. However, terrorists have time and time again pointed specifically towards the U.S.-supported illegal occupation of Palestinian land and the presence of American soldiers on foreign soil as the main motivation behind their attacks. If one is to be honest about the causes of terrorism, the history of U.S. foreign policy must be scrutinized.

Secondly, while Pipes makes a distinction between "militant Islam" and "moderate Islam," the lines get blurred in his message. He states that Islam is the only religion that has produced an extreme militant version of believers. Yet, contemporary examples of other religions producing this very thing include right-wing Jews, some of which sit in the Israeli Knesset, who want to expel by force every Palestinian from the occupied territories.

The truth is that it is far softer on our egos to believe that others hate us for no reason than to acknowledge that the pursuit of our own self-interest has come at the expense of causing a lot of misery around the world.

Nabil Sultan
Medicine III




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