Juan Cole: Denied Yale appointment?
Conservative siteson the net are enthusiastically reporting that Juan Cole of Informed Comment and the University of Michigan has been denied an appointment at Yale. The appointment would have been to Yale's Center for International and Area Studies, with affiliations in history and sociology. There are reports that, in early May, the University's history department voted 13 to 7, with 3 abstentions, in favor of the affiliation with it, but that more recently the University's Senior Appointments Committee voted against the appointment by a substantial majority. This comes after a widespread campaign in the conservative press (New York Sun and Washington Times, for example) and internet sites (Campus Watch, Front Page Rag, and Powerline, for example) against the appointment.
At some level, of course, academic appointments are always political. Qualified human beings making decisions is the essence of politics. Yet, partisans both left and right ought to shun making or denying academic appointments on merely ideological grounds. If a distinguished conservative scholar were denied an appointment at Yale because of her or his conservatism, partisans on the right would be, er, rightly outraged. Academic conservatives at ACTA, Critical Mass, and Phi Beta Cons can't both take heart from the denial of Juan Cole's appointment and continue their campaign for a"depoliticized classroom." However ideological Juan Cole may be, he is no Ward Churchill and conservative ideologues sullied the decision-making process by their ideologically-motivated public campaign against Cole's appointment at Yale. Meanwhile, the University is still without a distinguished scholar of the post-Caliphate Middle East.* In the current world, that seems like a yawning gap in scholarship.
*NB: I stand corrected on that. Abbas Amanat is a Professor of History and of International and Area Studies at Yale.
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Don Williams - 6/6/2006
If Juan Cole's Yale appointment has indeed been shot down, it may not have been the result of the conservative campaign-- although the conservatives certainly tried.
New England Universities are not known for appointing professors on the basis of appeal to ignorant and stupid conservative yahoos.
Rather, Cole's appointment may instead have been fallout from his praise for Mearsheimer and Walt's article on the Israel Lobby. See
The malign effects of the Israel Lobby were known at the time of the Sept 11,2001 on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. That it took until 2006 for two academicians to point out those effects --in an article which had to be published in a FOREIGN journal -- shows the state of academia today.
I believe that Mearsheimer has already noted the negative effects his article will have on his career-- that he is, as the military says, "falling on his sword" over a matter of principle and patriotism.
Rather than any Socratic search for truth, today's academicians gain influence by being like medievial priests -- eager to sell profitable sophistry which defends the rich and powerful and with intellectual ethics best summed up by the phrase "He whose bread I eat his song I sing."
The only philosophical question appears to be the issue of to which group one sells out.
There are many honest academicians, just as there were honest priests.
But they survive by keeping their mouth shut and their findings are never published in the New York Times.