As Scott and the daughter formerly known as Little Trunk have reported, Yale is considering whether to hire the rabid leftist and Israel hater Juan Cole for a tenured position to teach about the Middle East. One can argue that the possible hiring of Cole raises a conundrum. As Stanley Kurtz notes, Cole fits well within the mainstream of current American Middle East studies; indeed, he’s been honored as one of the “discipline’s” leading “scholars.” In a sense, then, criticizing Yale for considering Cole is a bit like criticizing the hiring of a radical lesbian feminist to teach queer theory.
However, David Frum (with help from Michael Rubin in a piece that Scott has linked to) demonstrates that Cole has often violated “neutral” principles of discourse and scholarship that Yale presumably believes should apply regardless of one’s substantive position. For example, according to Rubin, Cole favors the shutting down by the government of Fox News, and once called for an FBI investigation of MSNBC’s decision to select someone Cole doesn’t respect to be one of its analysts. Why would Yale be interested in a teacher with an authoritarian personality? And why would it be interested in a rumor-mongering attack dog (he once accused Dan Senor, the media spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority, of being an Israeli agent and claimed that Senor had ordered the U.S. military to attack Muqtada al-Sadr in order to serve Israeli interests) whose idea of a good source is Lyndon La Rouche’s former middle east correspondent?
Finally, consider Cole’s claim that MEMRI “is funded to the tune of $60 million a year by someone.” As Frum notes:
T]he best-endowed think tank in Washington, Brookings, which employs 142 scholars in a handsome building on Massachusetts Avenue, has a budget of some $40 million. Is it really possible that Yigal Carmon and his half-dozen ill-paid translators could be spending 50% more than Brookings? Fortunately, it takes about 90 seconds to get the answer.
As a tax-exempt organization, Memri is obliged to publish an income tax return revealing details of its income and expenditures. … The return shows that Memri’s budget in 2002 was a touch less than $1.75 million.
Yale would be better advised to spend its money on a queer theorist.