Old King Cole

Michael Totten describes Juan Cole’s outrage at having to compete with the great unwashed at blog awards:

Juan Cole is decrying all the neocons he’s forced to compete with in the 2008 Weblog Awards for Best Middle East or Africa Blog. He thinks Helena Cobban — a deranged Hezbollah supporter — should have been nominated instead of someone like me. He’s worked his leftist readers into a tizzy, and they’re putting him over the top. I don’t really care if I win this award; I won it last year. But Juan Cole certainly doesn’t deserve it.


Some credentialed experts don’t like blogs because they often expose their ignorance, have a larger following and write better. Consider this post from the Sandbox pointing out one of Juan Cole’s factual errors. Cole inveighs against Israeli actions in Gaza saying that since Mohammed Atta was motivated to participate in 9/11 because he was outraged by scenes of Muslim suffering from Qana in Lebanon, one day the scenes being played out in Gaza will return to Israel like chickens coming home to roost. There’s only one problem with Cole’s argument, Sandbox says: chronology.

Actually, Atta’s will was dated April 11, 1996—one week before the Qana tragedy, on April 18. We don’t know for certain why he made it, but it cannot be because he witnessed any footage from Qana, which was still in the future. And Cole apparently never read the will. It contains no pledge to die while avenging anyone. The will deals with disposition of Atta’s body and possessions in the event of his death. It’s not a “martyrdom will,” but a standardized one, provided by Atta’s Hamburg mosque. (You can read the full text here.)

This is not Cole’s first problem with 9/11 chronology and facts. For an earlier instance, go here.

Update: In the wake of this post, Cole has partly retro-edited his own post (without indicating so).

That kind of public drubbing can be irksome to people who think they have worked long and hard to stand above the common herd. At least in their own estimation. But unfortunately the Internet has lowered barriers to information entry and Cole will have to take his chances just like the rest of us. Juan Cole is entitled to his opinion, but he’s not entitled to force people to read his, and only his, opinion. So if you think someone else — like Michael Totten — is more informative and logical than the credentialed experts, go vote for them at the awards. Michael Totten says:


Don’t let Cole win. Go over there and vote for me. Alternately, My Marrakesh is a beautiful blog written by a woman who isn’t a neoconservative. Go vote for her. Or if you want to vote for a professor, vote for Martin Kramer. He actually knows what he’s talking about. Or there’s always Aussie Dave at Israellycool. I’ve met him, he’s a good guy, and he doesn’t sit around in his office and hatch asinine conspiracy theories like Cole does.


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