With a résumé thin on recent scholarship and a long track record of highly inflammatory and often inaccurate statements, Mr. Cole is widely considered a surprise pick to serve at one of America’s most storied institutions. Even within the Yale campus, the University’s impending move is controversial.
Earlier this month, the history department voted on allowing Mr. Cole to teach classes under its auspices. He received just 13 of the 23 votes cast, which included three abstentions. Mr. Cole’s detractors weren’t just opposing him on ideological grounds. As one Yale professor notes, “He hasn’t written a book of original scholarship since 1998, and while he’s produced a lot on his web site, blogs lack fundamental cornerstones of academic research, such as footnotes, sources, and critical review.” (Mr. Cole could not be reached for comment.)
Yale officials reportedly aren’t reviewing www.JuanCole.com, but for what other reason than his blog would he offered such a posh perch given his relative paucity of recent scholarly writing? Mr. Cole has written considerably little in academic publications since launching his blog in early 2002, but his one-man operation has attracted hordes of attention.
If Yale executives were to read Mr. Cole’s blog with any kind of critical eye, however, they would almost certainly reconsider their likely offer. His writings are marked by an endless cavalcade of errors. Flagrant, jaw-dropping errors. He regularly makes bold claims backed by precious little substantiation. And hell hath no fury like a Juan Cole scorned; ad hominem is his weapon of first resort.
To note just a few of his doozies—all within his supposed specialty of “contemporary Middle Eastern history”—Mr. Cole claimed:
• “Saddam Hussein... did not pay suicide bombers to blow themselves up.” (No, he paid the families after the deed was done.)
• “Chemical weapons are not weapons of mass destruction.” (He even cited Saddam’s gassing of the Kurds in 1988 to support his bizarre assertion.)
• “[A]ccording to the September 11 Commission report, al-Qaeda conceived 9/11 in some large part as a punishment on the US for supporting Ariel Sharon’s iron fist policies toward the Palestinians ... and again in response to the Israeli attack on the Jenin refugee camp.”
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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