Heydemann Slams Big Brother Committee

Heydemann Slams “Big Brother” Committee for Middle East Studies

Steve Heydemann writes in the Chicago Tribune against “Warping Middle East Judgments,” referring to the Neocon campaign to get Congress to set up a Big Brother Committee to monitor professors of Middle East and International Studies. (Registration required).

Heydemann writes, ‘The threatening intent of critics is not an exaggeration. Martin Kramer, a Middle East scholar who has made a second career out of attacking Middle East studies, told his academic colleagues to start worrying. Invoking tactics more common to the former Iraqi regime than to a democracy, he warned professors that their Web sites would be “visited late at night” to police their content. “Yes, you are being watched,” Kramer wrote on his Web site, telling faculty to “get used to it.” Intimidation is the aim of these critics, not accountability. The very real prospect that Congress will impose political litmus tests on funding is troubling. Though modest, Title VI funds have helped sustain our nation’s capacity to teach and conduct research about a part of the world that is central to American interests. The program has been crucial for ensuring instruction in all the major and minor languages of the Middle East.

As regular readers know, I agree entirely with Heydemann and have issued an appeal to readers to lobby their Senators to stop this insidious neo-McCarthyism.

Note to Marty Kramer: My Web site is generating nearly 200,000 page views a month. I cannot report on how many of these are “late at night,” but just so he knows, it is not necessary to keep his spies up until 4 am. The web page can be viewed all day long. Maybe things were different when he was reporting to Israeli intelligence (I heard he was fired for being bad at “making predictions.”) Anyway, as long as he stays out of my shrubs and away from my windows, he is welcome to look in on the Web site at a more civilized hour. And, he has messed with the wrong person; we may lose this one. But he should be in no doubt about the public relations damage he will have done to his own weird causes over the long term by picking on me.