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Subject: "Academic Malfeasance: The Case of Christopher Bail" =E2=80=93 Pip=
History News Network, #1483
Date: Sun, 11 Sep 2016 18:20:28 -0400 (EDT)
From: D. Pipes Mailing List
Reply-To: D. Pipes Mailing List
"Academic Malfeasance: The Case of Christopher Bail" -- Pipes in
History News Network, #1483
Academic Malfeasance: The Case of Christopher Bail
by Daniel Pipes
History News Network
September 11, 2016
Christopher Bail, a rising academic star, boasts a Ph.D. from Harvard
and holds the Douglas and Ellen Lowey Assistant Professorship of
Sociology at Duke University. In 2015, Princeton University Press
published his Terrified: How Anti-Muslim Fringe Organizations Became
Mainstream, which won the American Sociological Association's 2016
Distinguished Book Award for the sociology of religion.
The blurb for Terrified summarizes what Princeton UP calls Bail's
"pioneering theoretical argument" in which he
traces how the anti-Muslim narrative of the political fringe has
captivated large segments of the American media, government, and
general public, validating the views of extremists who argue that the
United States is at war with Islam and marginalizing mainstream
Muslim-Americans who are uniquely positioned to discredit such
Bail, the press continues, did not haphazardly stumble upon this
insight but discovered it by wielding his powerful theoretical chops,
drawing on ideas, no less, from "cultural sociology, social network
theory, and social psychology." Further, our up-to-date scholar did
a big-data analysis of more than one hundred organizations struggling
to shape public discourse about Islam, tracing their impact on
hundreds of thousands of newspaper articles, television transcripts,
legislative debates, and social media messages produced since the
September 11 attacks.
No wonder he won those impressive prizes and has a brilliant career
ahead of him! And good for him, too, protecting mainstream Muslims
from the crazed anti-Muslim fringe.
But, with regret, now, I must report that on leaving the dust-cover
encomia and immersing myself in the actual contents of Terrified,
Bail's grand theory collapses, crumbles, and crumples. Notwithstanding
all that training, the youthful professor makes an elementary and
monumental error: He mixes up the fringe and the mainstream, thinking
the one is the other, and the other, the one.
Thus, his "anti-Muslim fringe organizations" are not, as the blurb
leads one to suppose, neo-Nazis, the KKK, the alt-right, or other
nasties; they are, in fact, mainstream conservative organizations
whose personnel write for major publications, testify before Congress,
and staff Republican administrations. Bail focuses on four: the Center
for Security Policy (headed by Frank Gaffney), the Foundation for the
Defense of Democracies (Cliff May), the Investigative Project on
Terrorism (Steven Emerson), and the Middle East Forum (Yours Truly).
Bail's confusion may arise from the fact that while conservatives are
almost as rare as unicorns on the Duke University faculty, nationally
37 percent of Americans describe themselves as conservative, making
them a plurality (moderates make up 35 percent and liberals just 24
percent). Some fringe. Some sociologist.
Conversely, what Bail calls "mainstream Muslim-Americans" are
decidedly not mainstream but Islamist, seeking to create a worldwide
caliphate, replace the U.S. Constitution with the Koran, and impose a
medieval law on Americans. Utilizing various degrees of subterfuge,
the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of
North America, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council the share goals
with Hezbullah, Hamas, and Boko Haram. The FBI broke ties with CAIR in
2009. The UAE government listed CAIR as a terrorist group in 2014,
along with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and ISIS.
Meanwhile, Bail ignores the actual mainstream Muslim groups, such as
the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and the Center for Islamic
Our bemedaled but benighted sociologist has inverted reality. Worse,
even after reading this corrective, he surely will not mend his ways
-- maybe out of fear of losing all those academic laurels?
Bail can reasonably expect to teach elite undergraduates for many
decades, stamping left-wing orthodoxies onto impressionable minds. In
addition, he might do a stint in government, provide expert testimony
in court cases, and engage in popular writing (he's already graced the
pages of the Washington Post).
I can offer just one consolation for this depressing prospect: Bail's
inversion project will not prevail because it conflicts with reality.
He and likeminded analysts can argue that all would be well with
American Muslims but for we critics of Islamism; that the National
Rifle Association bears responsibility for the San Bernardino and
Orlando jihadi attacks; and that Frank Gaffney "laid the groundwork
for Trump's rise" -- but these tattered explanations eventually will
fail to convince most Americans.
Rather, as Islamist cultural aggressions and murderous rampages
continue, we on the alleged fringe are finding increasing support
while academics bleating for those darling Islamists while apologizing
for their totalitarian ideology will find a diminishing audience for
their shoddy goods.
Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org, -at-DanielPipes) is president of the Middle
East Forum. =C2=A9 2016 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.
Related Topics: Middle East studies
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