To the Editor:
I believe that Seth Cropsey’s article, “Arab Money and the Universities” [April], was uninformed and unfair to Georgetown University and its Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and to my own scholarly work.
While we at the center are grateful for the generosity of the Libyan and other Arab governments, we do not honor these governments by accepting their grants. In the case of the Libyan grant, the person honored was not Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, but Umar al-Mukhtar, a revered Libyan patriot and religious leader who led the resistance to the Italian occupation of Libya. We are happy to join with the Libyans in honoring Umar al-Mukhtar.
The center strictly observes the university’s principles on fund raising. We have not solicited, nor have we been offered, any grant from an Arab or an American source that has had any strings whatever attached to it. The university has exercised exclusive control over the designation of all faculty and staff connected with the center and will continue to do so. As for the Iraqi grant, President Healy planned to use it for an Islamic philosophy position that was subsequently funded from other sources.
While the U.S. Office of Education was erroneously listed as a center supporter in one of our early reports, it has never supported the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. It has supported the Near East Language and Area Center, which is administered in Georgetown’s School of Languages and Linguistics. The grants to the latter center have made it possible, among other things, for Georgetown to offer Hebrew, Turkish, and Persian; and we in the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies both benefit from and contribute to Georgetown’s overall competence in the Middle East as a whole. The university also accepts funds from the Jewish Community Council of greater Washington for a visiting Israeli professor in the government department. The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, however, will not accept funds which stipulate the nationality or national origin of the teacher. We welcome applications to our Master’s Program in Arab Studies from all qualified applicants, regardless of religion, race, sex, or national origins.
As for Mr. Cropsey’s out-of-context quotations on the treatment of Libya in my book, Arab Politics, I can only urge your readers to read the entire section and also to note how I compare Libya with other political systems in the Arab world. While I believe that there have been significant positive developments under the revolutionary regime—a great improvement over the corrupt monarchy that it overthrew—I also describe serious problems of legitimacy and participation and classify it as an unstable system. Anybody with a serious interest in understanding Libya would do better to read my book than to listen to Art Buchwald, whom Mr. Cropsey quotes.
Mr. Cropsey’s reporting of the views of Clovis Maksoud would have been considerably improved by noting that Dr. Maksoud’s interpretation of the motivation for Israel’s invasion of southern Lebanon is widely shared by other observers, including reporters on the Washington Post. In this connection, it is time Mr. Cropsey learned that it is not “pro-Arab” to be critical of Israeli policy or action.
Finally, Mr. Cropsey’s implication that Georgetown has “relaxed or waived” its “academic standards” in pursuit of contributions from Arab sources is too serious a charge to be leveled (and to be printed) without the facts. Should Mr. Cropsey or any of your readership wish to learn the facts of our academic program and standards, we would be pleased to hear from them or be visited by them.
Michael C. Hudson
Director, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
Seth Cropsey writes:
Michael C. Hudson claims that Georgetown does not honor its foreign donors by accepting their money. This is at best self-deception. The honor of being a benefactor to a valuable institution is in fact an important motive in making gifts. If it were not, there would be no disgrace in having a gift rejected by the intended beneficiary, and there would similarly be no objection like the one raised at Harvard this spring to the donations of an entrepreneur who maintained important South African holdings.
Beyond the issue of whether one approves a benefactor by accepting his gift is the more complicated issue of how the gift is put to use. Under ideal circumstances, universities express their gratitude to donors by pursuing the standard of academic objectivity they both claim to revere. This changes when a university confuses its essential purpose with that of a government agency, private business, or foreign government.
Mr. Hudson’s remonstrances notwithstanding, his praise of Colonel Qaddafi in Arab Politics is extravagant, and its appearance in a scholarly work makes a thoughtful reader wonder about the author’s ongoing relationship with his subject and with his center’s benefactor, the government of Libya.
Clovis Maksoud’s interpretation of Israel’s motives in invading southern Lebanon raises the same issue. Whether Washington Post reporters share his view that territorial gains were Israel’s true aim is as irrelevant as whether it is “pro-Arab” to criticize Israeli policy. The point is that Mr. Maksoud presented his opinion publicly as an official of a university which is indebted to the very foreign government whose political positions his remarks support.
In his haste to uphold his colleague’s political arguments, Mr. Hudson demonstrates an insensitivity to the real, and larger, issue of the connection between a university’s sources of support and its ideological inclinations. In my article I stated that such insensitivity will force universities to become ideological battlegrounds. By calling attention to the fact that Georgetown “also accepts funds from the Jewish Community Council of greater Washington for a visiting Israeli professor,” Mr. Hudson inadvertently reveals that Georgetown has taken something of a lead in that direction.