Daniel C Peterson On Daniel Pipes
Background: A copy of my e-mailed to Daniel C. Peterson, Ph.D. regarding some questions I had about Dr. Daniel Pipes. Also, Dr. Peterson’s response is copied below. Dr. Peterson approved the posting of his response to my e-mail.
First, I want to personally thank you for all your efforts at FAIR. I think your posts would make an excellent book for all aspiring apologist. Again, ThankYouVeryMuch!
Because of your expertise in Islam and the Middle East, I would like your professional opinion of Dr. Daniel Pipes. Do you consider Dr. Pipes’s to be an expert and a scholar on the Middle East and Islam? In other words, is he someone I can trust and rely on to tell it like it is, or is he simply an anti-Muslim? I’ve been reading his websites for a few years now and find him to be level headed, scholarly, and well versed in the areas of Militant Islam, Arab-Israel conflict, Syria, and American Muslims.
I ask this because some LDS believe the following about Dr. Pipes: “Daniel Pipes is a demagogue with absolutely no interest in scholarly debate…writes rubbish…His failure to acknowledge the diversity of the debate…please choose someone that bothers to read what they write…”
And because I know what it’s like to have my faith misrepresented, I do not wish to give credence to Dr. Pipes’s work if he is in fact the “Muslim Expert” equivalent of Decker/Tanner et al.
If, in your opinion, Dr. Pipes’s ought not to be taken seriously, then I’d certainly stop citing him as an expert. I sure would like to know whom you would recommend I can put my trust in as it relates to Islam, the Arab-Israel conflict, terrorism, etc.
Thread at Millennial Star where I am discussion concerning the Danish cartoons.
Middle East Forum
Areas of Expertise: Militant Islam, Arab-Israel conflict, Syria, American Muslims
Dr. Peterson’s response to my e-mail above:
I think highly of him. His father, Richard Pipes, was a famous Sovietologist at Harvard whose writing I admired. He himself earned a Ph.D. At Harvard with a dissertation on the Mamluks of medieval Egypt that became a fine book entitled, as I recall, Slaves on Horseback. He’s a legitimate, well-trained scholar, and very bright.
I confess that I have a bias with regard to Dr. Pipes, since he’s had some nice things to say about me (on the basis, in my view, of insufficient evidence). But, even factoring that in, I think his is a voice that should not be shunned.
I have at least one colleague here at BYU who despises him, too, but then, that colleague and I disagree very, very much on politics, as well.
I’ve never found Daniel Pipes to be a demagogue.
He is certainly not an Ed Decker or a Jerald/Sandra Tanner.
Keep reading Daniel Pipes. Another good writer—perhaps the greatest scholar of Islam writing in English—is Bernard Lewis, an Englishman now long retired from Princeton. All of his books are worth reading, but two short relatively recent ones are particularly and directly relevant to the current situation: What Went Wrong? and The Crisis of Islam.
Lewis also catches flak from some of my Islamicist colleagues, at least for his recent and more overtly political writing. But that’s to a large extent because most of my colleagues lean politically left, as do most academics generally. (I do not.) It doesn’t hurt to read some of the more liberal Islamicists too (such as John Esposito), to get various perspectives, but I am not very pleased with the campaign to blacken and marginalize Daniel Pipes. If he’s wrong, that should be demonstrated with evidence and analysis, not by name-calling.
Best wishes to you.
Daniel C. Peterson, Ph.D.
Professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic
Editor-in-Chief, Middle Eastern Texts Initiative
3087 Joseph F. Smith Building
Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah 84602