March 25, 2010
Juan Cole: The Ted Williams of Middle East Studies?
University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole is desperate for you to know that he is eminently qualified to speak publicly on the Middle East. He is, we are told in the opening paragraph of his recent response to the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg,[a] Middle East expert who lived in the Muslim world for nearly 10 years, travels widely there, speaks the languages, writes history from archives and manuscripts and follows current affairs ...But from this triumphalist beginning, the story takes a tragic turn: In spite of these qualifications (which you, dear reader, almost certainly do not share), Cole "found that none of [his] experience counted for much when [he] entered the public arena in the United States."It's not that he's thin-skinned or the like; no, it's that his experience in the real world "is like being a professional baseball player ready for the World Series" who is "kidnapped" and taken not to Yankee Stadium, but to a "secret fight...(Read Full Article)