Scholars Like Cole

Martin Kramer and Tony Badran have excellent posts on Juan Cole, the president-elect of the Middle East Studies Association of America, and his propensity to simply make up facts to suit his ideology (which includes, of course, the total demonization of Israel and the fact that America is controlled by Likudniks). In this latest round, they find that he has completely misrepresented the 9/11 commission report by saying that it concluded that Bin Laden decided to attack the US because of–yes, you guessed right–Ariel Sharon.
It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. The fact is, Cole represents the best in the American Academy. He is a seasoned scholar, a tenured professor, a president of a professional organization. And like him, vast numbers of his field have absolutely no ethical qualms about contriving evidence as long as it supports their anti-Zionist hypothesis.
The sadder thing is that no matter how many times Martin Kramer or Tony Badran point out how ridiculously unprofessional “scholars” like Cole are, they’ll keep on teaching, publishing and growing graduate students (which includes weeding out those students who might have the ethics to actually check their sources and might even come to a non-popular conclusion). I’m not saying that Kramer and Badran aren’t doing important work–I’m just saying that their work alone will not change the rot in the American academy, where identity and ideology trumps ethics and factual scholarship, where hating Israel is more important than correctly representing your sources.
Update: Daily Kos takes up the line of questioning, and shows how very strong the case against Cole is. Only thing is that his commentators, for the most part, are too blinded by their ideology to see that the man is a sham. “He’s only human,” they say, and maintain that he is an expert. An expert at what? I think this book can explain where his true expertise lies. It is indicative, though, that Cole can lie through his teeth and people will still support him as long as he paints himself as the anti-Neocon.


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