The Washington Post's Middle East "Experts"

The Washington Post pollsters this morning report on a supposed anti-Muslim backlash in the United States:

James J. Zogby, president of the Washington-based Arab American Institute, said he is not surprised by the poll's results. Politicians, authors and media commentators have demonized the Arab world since 2001, he said.


Juan Cole, a professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan, agreed, saying Americans "have been given the message to respond this way by the American political elite, mass media and by select special interests."

Cole said he was shocked when a radio talk show host asked him if Islamic extremists would set off a nuclear bomb in the United States in the next six months. "It was ridiculous. I think anti-Arab racism and profiling has become respectable," he said.

Messrs. Zogby and Cole, Paging Messrs. Zogby and Cole, Please pick up the white courtesy phone, your spaceship has arrived.

Sure, it has all to do with that avalanche of Hollywood films showing Arabs and Muslims as the bad guys, that non-stop stream of race-baiting invective from the White House and Congress, and, no doubt, the posting of the Danish cartoons as reading material for the long lines of young, Middle-Eastern men being detained by TSA for screening.

Nothing at all to do Iran's eschatologically loopy President, riots and embassy bonfires over a few innocuous drawings, MSM depictions of an Iraq seemingly resistant to common sense, French Citroen-fueled marshmallow roasts, and a CAIR that's to be worried that the McCarthy era won't return and they won't be in charge. Indonesia and Malaysia stand as symbols of how Islam can work within the modern world, but they're not the ones getting the ink, and most (but not all) of the loudest American Muslim groups are less interested in battling for the soul of their religion than in protecting the "rights" of the opposition. That's bound to leave an impression, even if it's not the right one.

What's remarkable is that Juan Cole's opinions on the matter are still considered newsworthy. This and this leave little doubt as to the "special interests" he has in mind. Cole's reading of the 9-11 Commission report beggars description. And he's been a leader in the attempt to keep government money flowing to Middle Eastern Studies departments, while not producing the skilled language experts the money is supposed to help fund. (He's not anti-war; he's just on the other side.)

Finally, Cole is an intellectual bully who has slandered the indispensible MEMRI, called publicly for opposition research on Martin Kramer, and spends a lot of time rejecting calls for intellectual honesty as McCarthyism while hinting darkly about lawsuits against his detractors.

The next time the WaPo needs a real Middle East expert, allow me to suggest Fouad Ajami, Amir Taheri, Bernard Lewis, Martin Kramer, or Daniel Pipes.

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