Juan Cole Blames the West (Again)

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Juan Cole’s recent lecture at Auburn University in Alabama was a jarring reminder of the importance of pursuing accountability from our academics. Speaking in the Haley Center’s primary auditorium to a room overflowing with students and a smattering of aging hippies, Cole provided an hour-long lecture on America’s relationship with the Middle East. While the seating arrangement was not uncomfortable, the lighting and the acoustics left something to be desired.

The overarching theme of the lecture was that the United States, specifically the Bush administration, was to blame for our problems with the Muslim World. Speaking in the “deep south,” Cole’s message was apparently tailored to an audience that undoubtedly was more conservative than those he normally faces. He couched his more extreme views in a nuanced, casual vocabulary that nevertheless failed to obfuscate them.

Calling his new book, Engaging the Muslim World, a “critique of the approach to the Middle East and Muslim World more broadly adopted in the first eight years of the twenty-first Century,” Cole unveiled from the very first moments his anti-American biases and lack of interest in historical context. He would have us all believe that our problems began with the Bush administration and that only a “small fringe terrorist group” posed a threat to the United States. Never mind the record of Islamic terrorist attacks that had plagued the West for the preceding three decades or the pernicious actions of rogue states like Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Libya: American bullying is the problem and Juan Cole’s way of thinking is the solution.

While Cole seemed eager to stress his expert credentials through repeated exhortations of his education and travels, his haphazard sophistry belied his efforts and revealed his poor judgment. No moment better illustrated this than when Cole discussed the views of an unnamed Turkish friend and stressed that, “from a Turkish point of view, Bush looked like a kind of Bonaparte.” Anecdotally, citing the opinion of a single Turk as evidence of how a nation of 76 million thinks certainly makes for a good quote, but it is not a substitute for sound academic research.

Cole repeated this pattern throughout his lecture, citing statistics and numbers while providing no specific source for his figures. While not an uncommon practice, the manner in which Cole uttered his figures was strikingly vague. He consistently stated “they did a study” and almost always failed to provide the audience an answer as to whom “they” referred.

In one instance, he claimed that 80 percent of Saudis thought their number one priority was fighting terrorism. “About ten percent of Saudis said they thought well of Al-Qaeda, which is a little bit alarming. And then they asked them what were their priorities and 80 percent of them said fighting terrorism. That tells me that they don’t really support Al-Qaeda.” The obvious weakness with this point is that the definition of terrorism for a self-proclaimed supporter of Al-Qaeda is likely to be quite different than for your average American citizen.

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  • jenny

    Buy Juan his own explosives belt already!

  • Chezwick_Mac


    Go back to Sept 11, 2001; there were NO US wars in Iraq or Afghanistan then in existence to justify the murder of 3000 American non-combatants…

    Or further back, to the creation of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928; there was NO Israel in existence for the West to support that would justify the birth of the modern chapter of radical Islam….

    Or still further back, to the Islamic conquests of the 7th century; there was no America or Israel in existence with which to rationalize Islamic imperialism.

    Cole is beneath contempt.

  • kafir4life

    Juan is the result of social promotion in the schools. Based on his obvious lack of intelligence, he didn't really earn any of the degrees that have been besotwed upon him, and proves his lack of acedemic value every time he speaks.

  • oldwolves

    Another left wing academic who didn't receive enough hugs from mommy. Now all grown up and looking for attention, he babbles stories he's made up,(Like the 'they's' in his studies), and is trying to impress the other kids. Unfortunately there are lots of other kids out there who need to feel important so they like to agree with the shiny new intellectual toy that the left puts forth. Sadly the kids look up to him with adoring eyes as they get their worthless diplomas that enhance their careers in the fast food service industry.

  • ziontruth

    "Zionist scum" like me are far more respectful toward the Muslims than are Cole and his ilk.

    They think they're like mere atoms, capable only of reacting to external stimuli, like hydrogen and oxygen necessarily breaking up at the application of heat, and necessarily incapable of doing so unless heat is applied.

    I, on the other hand, value the Muslims as will-possessing human beings, having desires of their own, ideas of their own, and the capability of taking the initiative, of acting of their own accord without being prodded to it.

    I value the Muslims as free actors, engaging in terrorism and sedition because they want to; because they choose to follow their very own program.

    So who's the bigot here?

  • jacob

    Unfortunately, what we have allowed to lurk nor only in academia but al most all over is
    an army of consecrated ignorant reputations and conceited nullities, of which an otstanding example is this Juan Cole..

    The issue is one I would love to discuss with him, for him to prove to me what does the
    USA have to apologize for to the Muslim world, as per his most outstanding rep., the
    present US President but of course, I don't have the credentials that would allow me to
    sit at any of their respective brayings
    But there is the reason for the situation this world and this country in particular is at….

  • Dina

    Maybe Cole needs to remember the 1.5 million Armenians killed by Jihad under the cover of WWI by the Turkish gov't. because they were "infidels." How many Armenians and Bulgarians were killed in the 30 or so years before that for the same reason? And he has the temerity to carp about anything America does? Same old anti-American crap.

  • tanstaafl

    Money talks, merit walks…………..

  • Jaladhi

    It is the profs like Cole who are brainwashing the next generation of Americans. Until the PC centric and self hating liberal academics are cleaned out of the universities, there is no hope keeping the western culture and values alive.

  • USMCSniper

    Assault from the Ivory Tower: The Professors' War Against America
    by Leonard Peikoff

    I wish I could tell you that your college years will be a glorious crusade. Actually, they will probably be a miserable experience. If you are a philosophically pro-American student, you have to expect every kind of smear from many of your professors. If you uphold the power of reason, you will be called a fanatic or a dogmatist. If you uphold the right to happiness, you will be called anti-social or even a fascist. If you admire Ayn Rand, you will be called a cultist. You will experience every kind of injustice, and even hatred, and you will be unbelievably bored most of the time, and often you will be alone and lonely. But if you have the courage to venture out into this kind of nightmare, you will not only be acquiring the diploma necessary for your professional future, you will also be helping to save the world, and we are all in your debt.

  • http://www.mysapce.com/freddawes1776/ Fred Dawes

    Its all in the Game. sad part is we our the Game.
    our way of life is under attack our Ideals of right against the muslim ideals of death may win with baboons like juan Cole who may help our enemies. and we may become nothing but a foot note in same monkey culture like Islam and after all monkeys like juan cole are nowadays normal.
    The Muslim did attack US ALL and others will use the attack to justify more attacks in the mind of baboons.

  • bubba4

    "Only a handful of individuals remained for the question and answer period, suggesting that a significant number of students attended the event for extra credit or class requirements. "

    Petty much?

    "He consistently stated “they did a study” and almost always failed to provide the audience an answer as to whom “they” referred."

    Do you know where you are? I just came from a Tait "blog post" that does this very thing. FPM does this all the time now.

    While the strawman that the US is soley and completely responsible for Islamic terror is appealing around here…and only in the most modern of times (Bush) it's almost never the point. To pretend that we are "over here" minding our own business and loving our freedom…and that these jerks are just sitting over there hating us for no reason, I think that misses the point too.

    Face it, we (the US and international conglomerates) have had our arm half way up the arse of the middle east for the better part of a century. And why? for oil…

    • Rifleman

      Face it, we buy their oil, we don't steal it.

      • Chezwick_Mac

        We not only buy it, we found it, extracted it, and made the Gulf Arabs wealthy beyond their dreams in the process.

        Truly exploitative!

        • bubba4

          Yes, and the tiny minority of super rich royals and criminals thank you. They have plenty of cash to buy monster trucks, suppress women, and encourage terror. You see, this oil is a win win for everyone.

          What's with the kneejerk defense…like Rifleman…I didn't say we "steal"…and Mac, I didn't say "exploitative"…you did. Does it hurt if the US isn't 100% right all the time?

          • Chezwick_Mac

            What's with the knee-jerk proclivity to hold America accountable for all the world's ills…or in this case, for the violent and retrograde culture of the Middle East?

            Actually, you were right, though inadvertently. They DON'T hate us for no reason, they hate us because their religion instructs them to.

          • bubba4

            No one did. This blogger is telling us that the speaker did and made out like there was nothing to discuss…terrorists hate our freedom and that's thats. I just said that wasn't the case…and not to take it to the point where you are blind to what is done in your name. This wasn't a challenge to ping-pong between strawman arguments.

            If you don't think America is "perfect" then when someone says "please don't make out like America is perfect" don't tell them they hate America or that they are saying America is evil..that's childish and stupid.

          • Rifleman

            Most people don't take an arm up their rear for jollies, I forgot you lefties have classes in it.

      • bubba4

        Well, we liberate the oil with tax money then give contracts to big oil conglomerates and then we buy the oil from them.

        So yes, technically we don't steal it…we actually pay for it twice.

        • ziontruth

          I'm sure you're a scientist working right now on inventing alternative forms of energy that will end this predicament, right? Right?

          Talk is so cheap.

          • bubba4

            No I'm not. So jews are always right and America never did anything wrong.

          • MixMChess

            What do the Jews have to do with anything anyone was discussing?

        • Rifleman

          We don't give the contracts, the liberated country does. After all, it's their oil, and the dictator we liberated them from, made and kept himself our problem as well as theirs. Apparently you fell for your own bs. We don't steal it in any way, "technically" or otherwise.

          • bubba4

            Your right, we went into Iraq for righteous resason…we're a righteous people..and you Rifleman are good and decent.

            It's not about what happened, it's about how we talk about it.

          • Rifleman

            Thank you, and it's what happened.

          • bubba4

            whatever gets you through the night cupcake.

  • jim Lopey

    Juan Cole is biased. His assertions appear to baseless and unsupported by credible documentation. I wouldn't waste time listening to one of his lectures. Like it or not, Islamic Extremism has been with us for centuries, starting with Taqiy al-Din (d1328); Muhammad al Wahhab (d1793); Sayyid Qutb (d1966), etc. They predate Bush and everyone else in the Western World. They all preached the same thing: (1) Isolation from those who are detrimental to Islam; (2) Offensive Jihad (use the sword against those who disagree with extremist viewpoints); (3) formulation of Caliphate under Sharia Islamic Law; (4) Cleansing of Religion; and (5) elimination of moderate or apostate regimes. Islamic extremism is a threat to all nation states (doesn't matter if Islamic or Christian.) The Muslim Brotherhood as an example and other extremist groups seek to topple democracy and the West because they feel it's contrary to the teachings of the Koran. TKhe also seek to convert the West to Islam (some peacefully and some by violent Jihad.) To not recognize the ultimate goals of said groups is paramount to burying one's head in the sand!

  • bubba4

    OMG the desert nomads want to take over the world! We should have known in 1328 that it would come to this!

  • oldwolves

    To bubba4,
    It's not that America is perfect. It's just we hate the idea that people bad mouth our country when there is nothing better. People like you are annoying because you feel superior when you point out Americas has flaws. We get it. We're not perfect. Duh! Who is? Expecting perfection is foolish. We try to improve what we have. Even our forefathers had the common sense to call for a "More perfect union."
    America has been an influence in the world for 3 centuries. Islam has been a bane for 14 centuries. Just because we have connections in history to islamic countries we are not responsible for Islams evil. Yeah we had dealings with Muslim countries. So everything that's wrong with them is our fault? That's pretty dumb.( I built my kids bike. He decided to jump off a ramp and he fell cutting himself. My fault? No. It was his. You can blather i should have done this and I should have done that but ultimately it was HIS decision to jump off that ramp.)
    Connecting us to other peoples failures is just plain wrong. Your sounding like any one of those conspiracy nuts. America is involved in this and and that. Honestly I wish we were. If we really did have all the influence you claim we have the world would be a better place.
    The American people are an exceptional race and if we get our act together and flush the congressional toilet in 2012 we stand a chance of making things better.
    We.don't mind honest criticism. We just don't like someone's 'great expectations' being thrown in our faces.