Jewish World Review April 1, 2003 / 28 Adar II, 5763

Does Columbia U
hate America?

By Daniel Pipes and Jonathan Calt Harris | "U.S. flags are the emblem of the invading war machine in Iraq today. They are the emblem of the occupying power. The only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military."

Those words were spoken last week by Nicholas De Genova, a professor of anthropology and Latin American studies at Columbia University. De Genova went on, in words that will long shame his university, to call for U.S. soldiers to "frag" (i.e., murder) their officers and express a wish "for a million Mogadishus," referring to the 1993 ambush in Somalia that left 18 U.S. soldiers dead and 84 wounded.

He wants eighteen million dead Americans?

While Columbia's administration distanced itself from De Genova (he "does not in any way represent" the university's views) and other professors criticized him, his remarks are hardly the rude exception to the usual discourse of the faculty at that university. For one, a visiting professor at Columbia this academic year named Tom Paulin, has stated that Brooklyn-born Jews "should be shot dead" if they live on the West Bank.

More broadly, plenty of other Columbia professors share De Genova's venomous feelings for the United States, though they stop short of calling for the deaths of Americans.

  • Eric Foner, Dewitt Clinton professor of American history, sees the U.S. government as a habitual aggressor: "Our notion of ourselves as a peace-loving republic is flawed. We've used military force against many, many nations, and in very few of those cases were we attacked or threatened with attack."

  • Edward Said, university professor, calls the U.S. policy in Iraq a "grotesque show" perpetrated by a "small cabal" of unelected individuals who hijacked U.S. policy. He accuses "George Bush and his minions" of hiding their imperialist grab for "oil and hegemony" under a false intent to build democracy and human rights. And Said deems the current conflict "an abuse of human tolerance and human values" waged by an "avenging Judeo-Christian god of war." This war also fits into a larger pattern of the United States "reducing whole peoples, countries and even continents to ruin by nothing short of holocaust."

  • Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said chair of Middle East Studies (starting in the fall), used the term "idiots' consensus" to describe the wide support for reversing Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait and called on his colleagues to combat it. After 9/11, he admonished the media to drop its "hysteria about suicide bombers."

  • Gary Sick, acting director of the Middle East Institute, alleges that Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter in 1980 by conspiring with the Ayatollah Khomeini to keep the U.S. hostages in Iran. He apologizes for the Iranian government (it "has been meticulous in complying with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty") and blames Washington for having "encouraged Iran to proceed" with building nuclear weapons. He opposes American victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism collecting large damages against Tehran. More generally, he sees the Bush administration as "belligerent" and his fellow Americans as "insufferable."

  • George Saliba, professor of Arabic and Islamic Science, routinely interrupts his class with political rants, leading one student to observe that it is "continuously insulting" to attend his lectures and another to complain about his course (on the subject of an "Introduction to Islamic Civilization," of all things) degenerating into a forum for railing against "evil America."

  • Joseph Massad, assistant professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History. Massad seems to blame every ill in the Arab world on the United States. Poverty results from "the racist and barbaric policies" of the American-dominated International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The absence of democracy is the fault of "ruling autocratic elites and their patron, the United States." Militant Islamic violence results from "U.S. imperialist aggression."

Such sentiments coming from leading lights of the Columbia professorate suggest that De Genova's fit very well into his institution. He just made the mistake of blurting out the logical conclusion of the anti-Americanism forwarded by some of his colleagues.

This self-hatred points to an intellectual crisis at a school long considered one of the country's best. Alumni, parents of students, and other friends of the university should first acknowledge this reality, then take steps to fix it.

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JWR contributor Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and the author of several books, most recently Militant Islam Reaches America. Jonathan Calt Harris is managing editor of Campus Watch (, a project of the Middle East Forum. Comment by clicking here.


© 2003, Daniel Pipes