Daniel Pipes came here to give a controversial lecture on radical Islam. Though some of what he said I disagree with, he was no racist or demagogue, and my fellow lefties came off as total asses when half the audience walked out 5 minutes into the lecture, then proceeded to burn the campus neo-con rag (which invited the speaker) and cheer loudly outside the lecture hall.
I’m just relaying what happened—this is not a general defense of Pipes, since I don’t know what he has said and done besides tonight.
Pipes’s argument was in 2 parts.
- The setup: The West has a problem with radical Islam, which is a significant and legitimate faction of Islam. Terrorism is not the real problem, it is just the symptom.
- The knockout: The West is at war with radical Islam. The best solution is to replace it with modern Islam.
Pipes went into more detail, but this was the gist. It’s a pretty moderate view; the part I disagree with is that we are, and should be, at war with radical Islam. He said that those who don’t wish to have such a war would prefer civil liberties to security, to which all I can say is hell yes, that’s American. 1
Until the lecture, I didn’t know anything about Pipes besides that he was controversial figure, supposedly a xenophobe, so I came expecting an O’Reilly-ish clown, hoping to see debate-as-entertainment. At worst, during the Q&A he made a bad analogy in support of profiling in airport security checks, but most of the protesters came and left before he even said anything significant.
With a reasonable, but in my opinion somewhat wrong speaker, and the paper-burning so-called liberals absent, the only really good idea to emerge tonight was my friend’s, when the discussion got to Iraq and Iran, that diplomacy should be required to be done over a doob. 2
2 His sentiment, my word choice, because it sounds funny.