Response to Rio Fischer ’12, on Bassam Frangieh:
Rio’s response is taken from the comments of this post. It is reproduced here. I have added a hyperlink to Rio's comment, but otherwise it appears as written.
Dear Charles Johnson,
Please stop. Please stop writing these blog posts and articles about Professor Bassam Frangieh. Please stop insinuating that he is connected to terrorism. Please stop attacking his character and status as an academic.
Your publications are damaging all of us at Claremont Mckenna College. You claim that the school responded to your article, “only after numerous alumni have withheld donations.” If this is true, then it is clear to me that you are harming the school by writing these posts. I ask you, therefore, to stop writing these. If you are able to convince alumni to withhold donations because of these false allegations, then you have unnecessarily withheld donations from CMC. The Arabic program, as it should be, is a selling point for the colleges and a program that I am proud to be associated with. Professor Frangieh has established a remarkably successful program in an extremely short period of time. I ask you not to jeopardize his dedication and work.
Most of all I ask you to stop because you are hurting a dear friend of mine. Today, after spending many hours with Professor Frangieh making last minute edits and changes to his textbook before sending it to press, he told me something unbearably sad. He said that when people search for his name online, they no longer find an academic who translates the Arabic love poetry Nizar Qabbani and the stunning freeverse of Abdul al-Wahhab al-Bayati, but now they find a terrorist, a holocaust-denier, an anti-Semite, and a generally cold hearted, evil man.
As difficult as it was, I read through all of the comments on your article posted on Big Peace. I have collected some of the comments that I find particularly heinous:
Treason in time of war is punishable by firing squad
An email to the University president voicing opposition to this cretin, Frangieh, would begin the cleansing process... Or just hang all of them for treason, after due process, of course, and be done with it.... Figures it would be in CA....
Shine a light on all who support islam [sic], the religion of hate.
In today's liberal movement, Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic opinions are highly esteemed.
I'm sure this piece of human garbage"Bassam" will be awarded with his own show on MSNBC
He is why Jews HATE Islam,and will never trust any muslim [sic]
And I have collected some comments that, although perhaps less melodramatic, are perfect examples of the damage done to CMC’s reputation:
This is a good thing. Now we know the name of another college that will never see one thin dime of my money nor will one of my 7 grandchildren even consider it.
Sounds like this univerity [sic] president Gann needs to be dismissed as well.
Claremont is off the options list for for my sons. Good grief. There aren't enough conservative colleges!
Although some of these comments are taken from your article titled Birds of a Feather, I do not believe that I can hold you accountable for what these people have said. I do not wish to attack you based on the words of others. Instead, I would like to focus your attention to the type of dialogue that your posts on sites like Big Peace create. The responses that your article received, ranging from bigotry to calls for Professor Frangieh’s execution, act as clear evidence that your endeavour is both dangerous and harmful for CMC and one of its most beloved professors.
I ask you to please stop. Please stop writing these posts and retract those that you have written. Please send an apology to Professor Bassam for defaming his name and viciously attacking him and his family. This has gone too far.
Rio Fischer ‘12
Dear Rio Fischer CMC ’12,
I am not “insinuating” that he is connected to terrorism. I am documenting his views which support terrorism. You might not like me doing that, but I will not stop until everything about him is well known to the public and that he issues an apology for what he has said and clarifies that he no longer supports it.
My publications are forcing Claremont McKenna College to live by the standards its founding presidents and board of trustees established. As a scholarship student on financial aid, I’m sorry that it has gotten to the point where the college will only respond to these well-sourced articles only after it loses money. What does that say about the character of that administration? What does it say that they still haven’t released a statement to the public?
There is nothing false in any of the articles. Everything is checked, double-checked, and triple-checked. But were there anything false, I have given him and others in the administration ample opportunity to respond. They have chosen not to. I have not “viciously attacked him and his family”; I have documented their views against Israelis and Jews in their official capacity for the Claremont Colleges. You, as a student of Arabic, are free to look at the bottom of this article at the list of the Arabic documents and translate them for yourself using the skills that Professor Frangieh has taught you. You will find what I have written is true.
The Arabic program should not be “a selling point” of the colleges when its director has these sorts of views unless it, too, wants to be associated with them. Frangieh jeopardizes his own reputation and the reputation of the college with his hateful views – views he has not deigned to explain or apologize for. I simply reported what he signed and said and then analyzed it. Along the way, I asked for comment repeatedly. To say I did anything else is a lie.
It speaks volumes about him that, at the last moment, before his book is published, he, as you write, cares more about his reputation and that of his book than he does about explaining and making known his own views on Hezbollah and Hamas and suicide bombing, among others. You write, whenever people Google him, he worries “they find a terrorist, a holocaust-denier, an anti-Semite, and a generally cold hearted, evil man.” Let me be very clear. Insofar as I know, he is not a terrorist, but he supports terrorist organizations; he is not a holocaust-denier, but he supports petitions signed by people who deny the Holocaust; he is not an anti-Semite, but signs petitions that are anti-Semitic. As for the final part about a "generally cold hearted, evil man," I don't know because he won't reply to requests for comment from people in the community. I don't know what's in a man's soul, but I do know what he has said and done and I hold him accountable for that, even if the college's administration will not.
You then profess shock and dismay about the internet comments of people you have never met and are likely never to meet, but seem to be under the impression that what I have written is not true. I am sorry that some of the commentators in the universe aren’t as eloquent as we would like, but I am not responsible for what others write about what I have written. I can only do my very best and get the truth out to as many eyes as I can. I am sorry that you find that truth “dangerous and harmful for CMC”. I find a professor – no a director of an entire program – who actually supports organizations that have murdered Americans and Israelis more harmful, more “heinous” than some anonymous commentator out there on the internet. Given his views, he should not be, as you have written, one of Claremont’s “most beloved professors.”
It is not your job to defend your professors, but if you are truly worried about his reputation and want to show everyone that he is something other than the supporter of Hezbollah and Hamas that he is, please email me and tell me exactly where I got it wrong. I will publish it.
I can’t comment on Frangieh’s success as a translator of poetry and so I won’t, but I can comment on what I have unearthed. Frangieh supports terrorist organizations, Hamas and Hezbollah, he signs petitions promoted by Holocaust-deniers, believes in boycotting Israel and Israeli academics, and thinks a “Zionist conspiracy” is behind America’s Iraq policy. (Were I Jewish or Israeli, I can only imagine what would be said about me documenting these views.)
And yet you ask me to apologize to him? And to retract what I have written about him, but not him to retract his anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, pro-Hezbollah, pro-Hamas views?
I am sorry your “dear friend” has let you down. Indeed, I am sorry he has let us all down. You write, “This has gone too far”. No, this has not gone far enough.
There ought to be an apology made, but it shouldn’t come from me. It should come from Bassam Frangieh.
Sincerely and thank you for your comment,
Charles C. Johnson