Cinnamon Stillwell

I’m the West Coast Representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum that focuses on Middle East studies. I was a political columnist for SFGate.com (San Francisco Chronicle online) from 2004-2008. I've written for the American Thinker, Frontpage Magazine, Family Security Matters, Accuracy In Media, Newsbusters, Israel National News, The Jewish Policy Center, J-The Jewish News Weekly of N. CA, Intellectual Conservative and many others. More info at CinnamonStillwell.com.

Friday, November 16, 2007

MESA Turns Down Campus Watch Ad: Help Rejected, Feelings Hurt

In a piece posted today at Frontpage Magazine, my colleague, Campus Watch director Winfield Myers, parodies the Middle East Studies Association (MESA)'s predictable, yet reprehensible, refusal to run one of our ads:
In a surprising act of corporate courage, the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) has dismissed an attempt by Philadelphia-based Campus Watch to place an ad in the program for MESA's upcoming annual conference in Montreal.

The text of the rejected ad read:

Campus Watch: Working to Improve Middle East Studies since 2002.

The bad news arrived in the form of a terse email from Amy W. Newhall, Ph.D., the executive director of MESA. She wrote from her office at the University of Arizona:

MESA's advertising policy states, ‘MESA reserves the right to refuse ads it deems inappropriate or in conflict with MESA's objectives.' On this basis, we will not accept the ad from your organization.

Sincerely,

Amy W. Newhall


MESA is the umbrella organization for practitioners of Middle East studies (MES) in North America. Based in the Arizona desert, insiders say it breaks through the wall of silence imposed on its members by Campus Watch through stealth outreach efforts that include: frequent appearances on national and international broadcast and cable news networks and radio; articles and citations in newspapers and magazines from around the world; countless classes involving thousands of students on thousands of university campuses worldwide; thousands of publications, including academic and non-academic journals and books; and frequent public speaking gigs in every state and province and scores of foreign countries.
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Campus Watch Critiques, UC Santa Cruz Paper Cries "Censorship!"

I have a new blog post up at Campus Watch, which offers a rather satirical rebuttal to the latest attempt to mischaracterize our work:
In this week's issue of City on a Hill Press, the student newspaper for the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC), reporter Marc Abizeid spins a bone-chilling tale of silenced professors and a Middle East studies field threatened by a shadowy network of "radical pro-Israel interest groups." At the helm of this nefarious conspiracy is of course Campus Watch, which Abizeid paints as a ruthless organization bent on censoring anyone who strays from the straight and narrow.

The problem is none of it's true.

Much like the disaffected academics he profiles in the ominously titled, "Silencing Debate on the Middle East," Abizeid suffers from the delusion, common on university campuses, that criticism is suppression.

Abizeid at least took the time to solicit my views on Campus Watch, but the long, tendentious list of questions he e-mailed me played his hand from the get-go. And, despite my best efforts to set the record straight, the finished product confirmed my suspicion that Abizeid's mind was made up long before he began his research.
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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Darfur for Dummies (Care of UCLA's Sondra Hale)

My latest at the Campus Watch blog:
In an article that came out earlier this week titled, "UCLA's Politicized Middle East Studies Professors," Campus Watch shed light on anthropology and women's studies professor Sondra Hale.

Hale was interviewed by UCLA Today in April, 2006 about the ongoing campaign of violence in Darfur many experts have labeled genocide and, in the process, provided further evidence of her propensity for politics over scholarship. At question was the nature of the conflict itself, which, by all objective accounts, consists of government-backed Islamist Arab militias known as the Janjaweed systematically targeting Western Sudan's black population (Christian, Animist, and Muslim, alike) for systematic massacre, slavery, rape, and subjugation.
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Monday, November 12, 2007

Last Veteran's Day Parade for the San Francisco JROTC?

San Francisco's anti-military shenanigans are legion and have been commented on by yours truly on many an occasion. Earlier this year, for instance, I noted the decision by the San Francisco Board of Education to phase out the JROTC (Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps) from the city's public schools, despite the protestations of students and their families.

So when this year's Veteran's Day Parade rolled around, I couldn't help but wonder whether or not the JROTC would be making an appearance. Sure enough, the usual contigent of JROTC cadets marched in the 2007 parade, but, according to this SFGate article, it may have been their final opportunity:
Sunday may have marked the last time that San Francisco high school students in the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps, or JROTC, will anchor the Veterans Day parade. The city school board voted last year to phase out the military-linked program, with trustees citing the military's policy on homosexual soldiers, among other things.

"Today is an opportunity for JROTC to show San Francisco what we're all about," said Eric Xu, a Galileo High School junior who wore a green uniform and white gloves as his school's color guard commander during the parade. "JROTC is one of those things that can change people for the better - I've seen that myself."

(On Tuesday, the school board will revisit the issue and may approve a one-year extension of the program through the 2008-09 school year.)
As indicated in that last item, it seems it's up to the not-so-good graces of the San Francisco Board of Education to decide, yet again, whether the JROTC stays or goes. Judging by this additional observation from the same article, I wouldn't hold my breath:
Also marching were the Veterans for Peace, who were joined by San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi. At City Hall, they stopped and repeated the chant, "War is not a game."
As long as San Francisco officials continue to collude with so-called peace activists to stab the U.S. military in the back - all the while pretending that by marching once a year in a parade it will all be forgotten - the anti-military stench in this city isn't likely to abate any time soon.

For the sake of the JROTC and Bay Area veterans, I'm glad to see that the Veteran's Day Parade lives on in San Francisco. But it's no coincidence that, each year, the attending crowds get smaller and smaller. And it's hard to escape the conclusion that our nation's veterans, not to mention active duty personnel in a time of war, deserve better. Much better.

UCLA's Politicized Middle East Studies Professors

My latest Campus Watch column - posted today at Frontpage Magazine - examines several professors from UCLA's Center for Near Eastern Studies and, as is all too often the case when it comes to Middle East studies, finds them wanting in balance, objectivity, and scholarship:
Earlier this year, the Center for Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. It was founded in 1957 by Gustave E. Von Grunebaum, a scholar at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute and the first president of the Middle East Studies Association. Grunebaum sought to establish at UCLA a groundbreaking Middle East and Islamic Studies program featuring an array of experts in languages, culture, and history.

Unfortunately, the best-known UCLA professors specializing in the region today, far from embodying the classical approach to the discipline in which knowledge is the overriding goal, exemplify the highly politicized world of modern Middle East studies. Ignoring the vast majority of the region and myriad pressing issues, including terrorism, the need for religious reform, women's rights, resistance to modernity, and the prevalence of tyranny, this cadre of Middle East studies professors is fixated instead on post-colonialism, the Arab/Israeli conflict, U.S. foreign policy, and shielding themselves from outside criticism. As pointed out by journalist Rachel Neuwirth, what passes for education at UCLA's Center for Near Eastern studies is, all too often, "sustained academic indoctrination."
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