Juan Cole is at it again, and once again Michael Totten rips him to shreds. For someone who’s supposed to be a well-educated professor, Cole is not only a fool, but an apologist for terrorism at that. Yesterday Totten caught him engaging in anti-Semitic equivocation, now he’s accusing Omar and Mohammad of Iraq the Model of being shills for the CIA or “neoconservatives” (conveniently ignoring that the dreaded “neocons” and the CIA don’t agree at all, but that would require thought and research…).
Totten responds thusly:
Juan Cole would rather align himself with anti-American Iraqis like the blogger Riverbend. Okay, whatever. But I have no idea why he expects conservatives and centrists to do any such thing. Most people in this world donâ€™t reflexively side with those who hate them. One reason he is in the political wilderness and Iâ€™m not is because he does and I donâ€™t.
This is also indicative of a larger phenomenon. Among the “academic” left, of which Professor Cole is unquestionably a part, there’s an assumption that the only “authentic” voices in the Middle East are those who reject democracy and embrace tyranny. Iraqi supporters of democracy? To most Middle Eastern studies departments, they’re heretics — which is coincidentally the same thing the Islamofascists believe. The concept is that anything that speaks of democracy, individual rights, or the like are all “Western” values that betray a sense of “orientalism” and don’t belong in the Middle East.
Of course, the logic behind this concept is specious. It assumes that the values of democracy and individual liberty are merely Western constructs — which is one accepts human rights as being universal (which by definition they must be) cannot be true. It also assumes that the only “authentic” cultures in the Middle East are ones like Iraq in which the people are ruled by tyrannical leaders and systematically oppressed. Such a view has to be prefaced on the assumption that the people of the Middle East somehow want to be oppressed and that is the natural condition of the area. You can’t profess a belief in human rights in one sentence and then argue that allowing an entire region to remain under the thumb of autocracy and theocracy is morally correct in the next. Either human rights are universal and we have an obligation to uphold them, or they’re not worth a damn thing.
The fact is that the left has always been willing to side with tyranny, so long as it’s the right tyranny. Stalin’s purges were whitewashed, so to were the crimes of Viet Cong. So long as you’re predictably anti-American and make the right speeches about how you’re fighting oppression and the like, you get a free pass from the anti-American left in academia. When you have a group of people who consider Franz Fanon’s Les damnés sur la terre to be a great and influential work when it’s a manifesto for murdering innocents, what else can one expect?
Meanwhile, Jeff Jarvis sets the record straight and includes Omar and Mohammad’s response to Cole’s little outburst. What makes this especially disgusting is that Omar and Mohammad are putting their lives on the line by working for democracy in a country that has never known it so that the Iraqi people can enjoy the same basic freedoms we do — and yet Cole and his ilk find that the only Iraqi bloggers they approve of are the ones who advocate tyranny and theocracy.
If someone argued that the Nazi Party were the only “authentic” voices in Germany during World War II, they’d be branded as a racist and quite possibly have their academic career cut short. So why does someone who does the same thing with the Ba’ath Party get a free pass?