June 26, 2006


Burning Cole (PHILIP WEISS, July 3, 2006, The Nation)

Neoconservatism is an elite calling. It thrives in think tanks, not union halls; its proponents want most of all to influence the powerful. No wonder Ivy League labels have always been important to neocons. This fixation on intellectual prestige explains the recent neocon uprising over the possibility that Juan Cole, scholar and blogger, would become a Yale professor. It was one thing for Cole to hold forth from the University of Michigan, where he has been a professor for twenty years. But Yale would provide "honor" and "imprimatur," says Scott Johnson, a right-wing blogger. "That's a huge thing, to have them bless all his rantings on that blog."

On June 2 Johnson broke the story (on powerlineblog.com) that Yale's Senior Appointments Committee had the day before rejected Cole after three other Yale committees had signed off on him. By then a process that usually takes place behind closed doors had become thoroughly politicized by the right. "I'm saddened and distressed by the news," John Merriman, a Yale history professor, said of the rejection. "I love this place. But I haven't seen something like this happen at Yale before. In this case, academic integrity clearly has been trumped by politics."

The controversy erupted this spring after two campus periodicals reported that Cole was under consideration by Yale for a joint appointment in sociology and history. In an article in the Yale Herald, Campus Watch, a pro-Israel group that monitors scholars' statements about the Middle East, was quoted as saying that Cole lacked a "penetrating mind," and suggesting that Yale was "in danger of sacrificing academic credibility in exchange for the attention" Cole would generate. Alex Joffe, then the director of Campus Watch, told me Cole "has a conspiratorial bent...he tends to see the Mossad and the Likud under his bed." For its part, the Yale Daily News twice featured attacks on Cole by former Bush Administration aide Michael Rubin, a Yale PhD associated with Campus Watch and the American Enterprise Institute. In an op-ed Rubin wrote, "Early in his career, Cole did serious academic work on the 19th century Middle East.... He has since abandoned scholarship in favor of blog commentary."

Academics dispute this. [...]

Of course, Cole is on the left....

Because, in academia in particular, to be on the Left is to be non-political.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 26, 2006 12:34 PM

I wish he had been hired by Yale. The Ivy League is the alleged pinnacle of the intellect, and they SHOULD be encouraged to collect the Coles and Churchills of the world, those too stupid to keep their mouths shut in forums where their opinions might become available to the unwashed masses. On vacation a couple of weeks ago I heard a couple of retired Ivy League professors openly state their wish that Bush would be killed on his surprise visit to Iraq. Over breakfast, in their own home, of course--they are much smarter than Cole.

Posted by: b at June 26, 2006 1:09 PM

An adorable little girl of about five was trilling, "I hate Bush" over and over again at a campus social event. The proud parents looked on beaming approval.

Posted by: erp at June 26, 2006 1:33 PM