I'm a bit surprised that nobody has diaried on Monday's Wall Street Journal column by John Fund. In a two-part assault on Yale, Mr. Fund first continued his campaign to have ex-Taliban diplomat Sayed Rahmatullah Hashem separated from Yale. What was more remarkable was the second half, which was an attempt to dissuade Yale from extending a job offer to Prof. Juan Cole of the University of Michigan history department. Cole's prize-winning blog is very well known. He has been an articulate and knowledgable critic of administration policy in the Middle East.
Fund seeks to paint Cole as an academic has-been and quotes neocon Michael Rubin as claiming that Cole has "abandoned scholarship in favor of blog commentary." Apparently neither Fund nor Rubin make much use of the internets, because even a cursory search yields Cole's publications list:
I count 9 articles and book chapters since the beginning of 2005. That is an impressive pace of publication for somebody NOT devoting a lot of effort to blogging. For someone who blogs as much as Cole, it bespeaks a truly prodigious productivity. By comparison, Rubin, a 1999 Yale history Ph. D., has published two books, neither with a university press, and Historical Abstracts lists two articles, from 1995 and 2003. In his own writing Rubin also criticizes the choice of Cole for Yale because much of his work centers on nineteenth century history, and thus his academic concentration makes him less valuable as an analyst of current affairs. Rubin maintains a discreet silence about his own dissertation -- "The Formation of Modern Iran, 1858-1909: Communications, Telegraph and Society" -- as well as his 1995 article on "Persia and the Standard-Sinclair Oil Dispute, 1920-1925."
Fund also can't resist labelling Cole as anti-semitic for his criticisms of Israeli policy. He describes him as "ignorant" and "hot-headed," and quotes a Yale alumnus as jokingly contending that, "Perhaps the folks who still want to let Taliban Man [i.e. Hashem] into the degree program are also thinking Cole would make a great faculty advisor for him."
Cole has posted his own response to Fund's article on his own website: http://www.juancole.com/
Apparently he has been successful in getting the WSJ to issue a "clarification" of a quotation that Mr. Fund invented, but it is apparent that a further retraction (let alone equal time for Mr. Cole) is not going to be forthcoming.
This episode follows closely on the heels of the WSJ's attempt to discredit Walt & Mearsheimer's paper on the Israeli lobby in the US by publishing a rejoinder by a professor of Yiddish literature who seems to believe that quoting derogatory comments about their paper made by her own students is a clever refutation of their argument.
Have neocons become so accustomed to being close to the throne that they have forgotten how to argue? Neither Fund nor Rubin nor the earlier critique of Walt and Mearsheimer is going to make the slightest impression on anybody who does not already believe what they believe.