Middle East studies in the News
by Tony Badran
I know I promised to ease the Cole material, but the guy simply refuses to quit feeding my habit (besides, how can I refuse that devastated reader who was practically sobbing at the possibility of a Cole-drought!) Take this post for instance.
I'm not going to address all the nonsense and the usual self-aggrandizing and self-promoting hypocrisies he spit out, but I can't let this section pass:
"As for Wills's argument that academia "has marginalized itself, partly by political shrillness and silliness that have something to do with the parochialism produced by what George Orwell called "smelly little orthodoxies." Many campuses are intellectual versions of one-party nations -- except such nations usually have the merit, such as it is, of candor about their ideological monopolies. " -- it is another instance of blaming the victim.
Academia has not marginalized itself. It has been marginalized. Perfectly reasonable beliefs such as that workers should have a right to explore unionizing without fear of being fired have been redefined by Joe Coors and Richard Mellon Scaife as "out of the mainstream." Thinking that it was a bad idea to invade Iraq (as I said repeatedly in 2002 and early 2003) was defined as out of the mainstream and unpatriotic. Corporate media bring in a parade of so-called "experts" (often lacking credentials and saying ridiculous things) from "think tanks," in Washington and New York instead of letting academics speak. (There are some exceptions, obviously, but I am talking about over-all numbers). Wouldn't you like to hear about Ayman al-Zawahiri from someone who actually had read him in Arabic? The universities have such experts. The think tanks mostly just have smelly little orthodoxies of the Right." (Emphasis added.)
Either Cole has an incredibly bad memory (especially for a historian), or he's a dishonest opportunist (to add to "hypocritical" and "shrill"). Here's why. Here are five posts (in crescendo), all from 2003 (when, according to Cole, he was busy opposing the war on Iraq and letting everyone know it's a bad idea), that put a huge dent in Cole's claim (emphases added):
1- March, 2003:
"My analysis is not meant to support an anti-war or pro-war position. Like most people, I have mixed feelings about all this (I despise the Baath Party)."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but this hardly counts as "thinking the war was a bad idea"! At best, this is a neutral position (or perhaps a "marginal" position). It's nowhere near the anti-war activism he's now claiming.
"The Iraq war has resulted in many human casualties that make any humane person want to weep. I hope the human sacrifice will have been worth it; certainly Saddam's regime was virtually genocidal and it is a great good thing that it is gone."
OK, getting warmer! From neutral to at least grateful that Saddam is gone! Still, miles away from "thinking it was a bad idea."
"I am an Arabist and happen to know something serious about Baathist Iraq, which paralyzes me from opposing a war for regime change in that country (Milosevic did not kill nearly as many people). If it is true that Chirac thinks the Baath party can be reformed from without, he is simply wrong."
Mmmmkay, so now he was paralyzed from opposing it! The paralysis must have affected his brain and blocked this out somehow. I mean he even thought Chirac was wrong! Good gawd! Oh, and back then he actually thought Saddam killed more than Milosevic did. Recently, if you recall my first post on Cole's reaction to the Lancet Report ("A.S.S. Cole"), he said that the number of people Saddam killed is "controversial" and that the US (based on the numbers of the Lancet Report) is closing in on Saddam!
"I remain convinced that, for all the concerns one might have about the aftermath, the removal of Saddam Hussein and the murderous Baath regime from power will be worth the sacrifices that are about to be made on all sides. The rest of us have a responsibility to work to see that the lives lost are redeemed by the building of a genuinely democratic and independent Iraq in the coming years."
WHAAAAAA!? He "Remains convinced" that it's worth the blood that is about to be spilled on all sides!! Doesn't quite sound like a bad idea to him, now does it!?
"I don't think this Iraq war was a last resort, and I became increasingly uncomfortable with the way the war fever was whipped up with very dubious claims by powerful Iraqi expatriates and the right in Washington. However, and this is the big "H," I have lived with Baathist Iraq since I got into the Middle East field, and being a specialist in Shiism and a friend to Iraqi Shiites meant that I knew exactly what the Saddam regime had done to them. So, I refused to come out against the war. I was against the way the war was pursued--the innuendo, the exaggerations, the arrogant unilateralism. But I could not bring myself to be against the removal of that genocidal regime from power."
And the truth comes out, crystal clear. He refused to come out against the war.
And he's complaining that some (not nearly enough) people aren't taking him and his likes seriously!? Maybe this will help: Prof. Cole, your pants are on fire... and so is your credibility.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
Campus Watch contact e-mail: email@example.com