Pipes lectures to calm crowd
Despite the buildup to Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes' campus lecture Monday, his talk did not meet any protests or angry outbursts.Pipes addressed a crowd of over 200 in the Shapiro Campus Center Theater and spent the majority of his lecture discussing the "Islamization of Europe" from both the European and Muslim perspective, a subject on which he said he does not usually lecture.
"Europe is an open door, through which Muslims are walking right through," he said.
Pipes lined out three scenarios for the future of Europe. The first scenario is that Muslims will dominate Europe; the second scenario would be the rejection of Muslims; and a third, more hopeful scenario, is that everyone will coexist in peace. Pipes referred to many quotes from other scholars and built his argument with many examples.
Pipes said he could not identify which scenario would be most likely.
"I'd like to leave it as an open question. It's not clear which way it's going, and to whichever way it does go, it looks pretty bad," Pipes said.
According to Pipes, one of the main reasons Islam is gaining so much ground in Europe is because of the continent's high level of secularization and the decline in the popularity of Christianity. He said other important reasons are declining birth rates and a weakening of national pride in European countries.
Low birthrates in Europe are causing a shortage of labor, resulting in the need for more immigrants to fill the jobs. Most of these immigrants come from nearby Islamic countries, both because they are close and because they are connected to Europe through historic ties, Pipes explained.
"Europe will be Islamized because the yin of Europe and the yang of Islam fit right perfectly," Pipes said.
Because the event was planned under the Union's former Campaign for Peace, the organizers were required to hold a discussion afterward to reflect on the event, according to event organizer Jacob Olidort '07. Pipes was not expected to attend. No one stayed for this portion of the program.
The event's organizers said in February that they initially struggled to bring Pipes to campus because the Campaign for Peace-the Student Union's committee to contextualize Middle East dialogue-and the Office of Student Life "broke communication" with them.
"He was realistic and he based what he said on statistics. It's hard to argue with him," Anna Benhamou '09 said. "It's a good thing he came."
This is the first time Pipes has visited Brandeis since November 2003, when his lecture about politics in the Middle East was overshadowed by strong protests. During that event, around 20 of the approximately 275 audience members wore black to show solidarity against Pipes' presence and views during the last question of that event, nine protesters walked out through the front of the room, in front of Pipes, to protest his message.
After the 2003 lecture, several students stood outside of Sherman Function Hall holding banners and posters denouncing Pipes as racist and intolerant.
Pipes explained in that question-and-answer session that the quotes organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations used to brand him as racist and intolerant were taken out of context.
Others on campus defended Pipes. Dennis Ross, who served as special ambassador to the Middle East under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and taught at a class at Brandeis in fall 2005, said that "Daniel Pipes, no matter what anyone says, is a legitimate scholar. Does that mean I agree with everything he says? No. But ... he is not a racist, and is not anti-Islam. He calls attention to militant Islam. ... Anyone who tries to discredit him as a scholar has another agenda."
At that time, public opinions of Pipes were mixed. The Boston Globe reported, "If Pipes' admonitions had been heeded, there might never have been a 9/11." The Wall Street Journal regarded him as "an authoritative commentator on the Middle East," while the Washington Post saw him as "a man who seems to harbor a disturbing hostility to contemporary Muslims.