Despite encountering protests during his last visit in January of this year, Daniel Pipes, a well-known American historian with outspoken views on the Israel/Palestine conflict and Islam, was again invited to speak at UC Irvine this past Wednesday, Nov. 28. His lecture, hosted by the College Republicans, the David Project and the Objectivist Club, was titled ‘Militant Islam and the Middle East.’
Pipes’ speech was intended ‘to defeat stereotypes,’ according to Cameron Galbraith, fourth-year international studies and history double-major, and president of the College Republicans. ‘Our issue is with militant Islam, militant Muslims, not the moderate ones, not the ones here. So part of this [lecture] is to clarify this conflict that we’re in.’
Students who queued up outside the lecture hall were probed with metal detectors by a private security firm hired by the College Republicans before they were allowed to enter. Galbraith described the metal detectors as a ‘precaution.’
‘Pipes has a history of drawing controversy,’ Galbraith stated. ‘With any highly visible speaker, we felt it would be prudent just to get the metal detectors just in case.’ Six police officers were also on hand, though their services were not required.
While waiting for the event, people were also met with leaflets distributed by the Worker Student Alliance. Titled ‘Daniel Pipes: Racist Mouthpiece for U.S. Imperialism,’ they provided quotes from Pipes meant to expose him as a xenophobe and racist. Students from the Worker-Student Alliance, Students for Peace and Justice and the Muslim Student Union, also placed tape over their mouths with words such as ‘hatred,’ ‘Islamophobia,’ ‘racism,’ and ‘Daniel Pipes’ written across them.
A few minutes into Pipes’ speech, in response to his statement that the ‘subtle totalitarian movement’ exists ‘not just in the case of Afghanistan, [but] right here in American universities,’ those students rose in silent protest and filed out of the room. Many were holding posters with statements such as ‘We Will NOT Be Silenced’ and ‘From Gaza to Jena: Smash Racism with Multiracial Solidarity.’ Their departure left much of the room empty.
Pipes, who has met with protests at various schools such as UCLA, UC Berkeley and Yale University, was able to recover and delved back into his lecture. He said that ‘when Islam began, it was a success,’ and for the first 600 years, ‘being Muslim meant to be on the winning team.’ He argued, however, that the past two centuries have been a challenge for the Muslims to figure out what went wrong. Pipes then presented his solutions.
‘Our [first] goal has to be to modernize Islam.