Kramer vs. Cole


As a follow-up to Julian's entry on MEMRI and its threat to begin a libel suit against Middle East scholar-blogger Juan Cole, you might want to go to the site of another schogger, Martin Kramer, who recalls that Cole threatened legal action against Kramer and his colleague Daniel Pipes for having created an allegedly threatening "dossier" on him on the Campus Watch website (Kramer was not involved with Campus Watch).

I've published Cole in the past and am on friendly email terms with Kramer, so I have no dog in this fight, but I do agree with Kramer (with reservations about his views of Cole, whose website I nevertheless find overrated) when he writes:

MEMRI's president, Yigal Carmon, shouldn't have threatened legal action–in part because it makes too much of Cole, who's famously prone to fact-free tantrums, and whose weblog is an embarrassment of errors. But in the same measure, Juan Cole shouldn't have threatened action two years ago against Daniel Pipes and myself. I don't like the culture of litigation, where people deal with criticism by legal intimidation instead of arguments.

NEXT: Excellent

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  1. Kramer’s got Cole there. Neither should have threatened legal action. The dossier is hardly threatening. Plus, it didn’t call for direct action towards Cole, like Cole did with MEMRI. Not that a call to action matters, since it was a non-violent call to action, but Kramer’s got Cole here.

  2. I have three rules for evaluating commentary on the middle east:

    1. Immediately stop reading or listening to anything that includes any variation of the phrase: “Beirut used to be called the Paris of the Middle East.”

    2. Immediately stop reading or listening to anything that asserts without evidence that U.S. aggression in the Muslim world is a great “recruiting tool” for terrorists.

    3. Immediately stop reading or listening to
    anything that uses the simile “sand” in reference to any policy issues involving the Middle East.

    Kramer is a serial offender of Rule 3, Cole a serial offender of Rule 2. So I’ll pass on both.

  3. Tim:

    There is no commentary on the middle east left.

  4. Cripes Tim, that leaves only Michael Young and Naguib Mahfooz left to take seriously. 🙂

  5. Oh and Happy (belated) Thanksgiving to all the Reasonistas.

  6. When in NPR finally going to give Juan Cole his own show? It seems like he’s on one of their shows at least once a week.

  7. Yes, Cole is being hypocritical.

    But ANYONE who listens to the likes of Pipes or Kramer, two men who are competing for a monopoly of error in their various assessments about the Middle East, should not be taken seriously.

    There are others who lean to the right that do not resort to hysterical invective. Bernard Lewis or Dennis Ross come to mind.

  8. No one associated with Campus Watch is in a position to whine about “intimidation.”

    Stones, glass, houses.


    “Immediately stop reading or listening to anything that asserts without evidence that U.S. aggression in the Muslim world is a great “recruiting tool” for terrorists.”

    Do the teenagers dead next to RPG launchers in Falluja count as evidence?

  9. joe,


  10. I tune out anyone who, with sarcasm, refers to Islam as a religion of peace.

  11. The statement lumps all Muslims together and religious bigots have nothing to teach me about the Middle East.

  12. Does it not occur to you that maybe people say “Islam is Peace” tongue-in-cheek because this is the standard politically correct response to any association of Islam with terrorism??? It’s sort of like saying “jihad” means internal struggle for piety.

    Does it make me a bigot to laugh when a talking head says “Islam is Peace”? Does it make me a bigot to chuckle when an Islamic Studies “professor” asserts that jihad is an internal struggle?

  13. “I tune out anyone who, with sarcasm, refers to Islam as a religion of peace.”

    Y’all see what I mean, right?

  14. I’m going to split this one down the middle: I tune out anybody who says “Islam is a religion of peace” sarcastically (though I’ll cop to having used that gag when it was still slightly fresh), and I tune out anybody who says “Jihad means internal struggle” unsarcastically.

  15. >>Does it not occur to you that maybe people say “Islam is Peace” tongue-in-cheek because this is the standard politically correct response to any association of Islam with terrorism???>>

    Actually except for a few professional spokespersons the only person I’ve heard say that was President Bush after 9/11. Or something similar.

    Jihad CAN mean internal struggle, and I would prefer it to mean ONLY that, hence I wouldnt ridicule its use that way though it obviously also means religious war.

    To “smite Amalek” can mean in Judaic circles literal genocide or a metaphoric crusade (can I say that word?) against evil. I would prefer that Israeli settlers mean the metaphoric, hence I wouldnt discourage that interpretation.

    Any benign interpretation of a religious concept should be ENCOURAGED.

    And the sarcastic “Islam is a religion of peace” is played out, except maybe on LGF (where they actually use babytalk like “moonbat”). Pretty much marks the speaker as biased; like someone saying “Israel is a democracy” sarcastically.

  16. At the risk of beating a dead horse….

    You said: “Jihad CAN mean internal struggle, and I would prefer it to mean ONLY that…”

    This is EXACTLY my point. It FEELS so much more comfortable (and less offensive to those more PC-inclined). We all would prefer that Islam really is peace and that jihad really is an internal struggle. But reality indicates that for a great many Muslims this simply isn’t the case. And until our politicians and media start discussing these realities, the West will continue to delude itself.

    I still am not sure why Ken chose to throw the “bigot” label around so carelessly. As one who loves to raise the ire of my San Fran neighborhood cafe Marxists, I make sure I say “Islam is Peace” with as much sarcasm as possible…call me a bigot for liberty and democracy I guess.

  17. But Islam doesnt mean peace (though it can be possiblr validly stretched to “peaceful surrender” with common root consonants), and it is not a pacificist religion; whereas jihad can mean, and sometimes really does mean in actual use, a struggle of a less bellicose kind. (Inverting the above argument a bit, the root word for jihad and ijtihad are the same — and the latter is the concept of openness and inquiry that most liberal Muslims want to see embraced are also the same — referring to struggle of ideas in discourse if I am not mistaken).

    But really who says Islam means peace?; most Muslims never said that I think until Bush did. Juan Cole doesnt say it.

    Like all religions it is proferred as an inner peace of sorts. But I always heard it to mean submission or surrender (to the will of God). Most Muslims are proud that it has a fighting side, even the liberals who want the concept used defensively and metaphorically.

    Bigotry comes in because the sarcastic version is often associated with people who simply want to denigrate the religion as a whole rather than its more belligerent adherents.

    Why would Marxists associate warnly with the “religion of peace” considering that jihad waging Muslims decisively sapped the USSR and local communists in Afhganistan and elsewehre.

  18. In other words, we have two jerks doing what jerks do. 🙂

  19. The term “jihad” refers to a holy war, but it also describes an individual’s struggle to, for instance, resist temptation too. Used in this context, I don’t find the term alarming; indeed, I don’t find it particularly interesting. Did some professor you can cite claim that when terrorists call for a jihad, they’re really just asking people to struggle against sin? I don’t understand your fascination with the term, quite frankly. Your interpetation doesn’t seem to have much use beyond its propaganda value, that is. In context, holy war or struggle, either way, why does it matter? Does your answer have something to do with America “deluding” itself?

    Who in America, or elsewhere for that matter, denies the link between radical Islam and terrorism? This link doesn’t mean that Islam isn’t a religion of peace any more than what the Spanish did to Native Americans and what Catholics and Protestants did to each other mean that Christianity isn’t a religion of peace. When I talk to Muslims about Christianity, I start by explaining that there are very few things that are true of all Christians. I can say the same thing about Islam (Talk about people who like to argue!); in spite of what you may have heard, there is very little that is true of all Muslims.

    People who preface a point with the suggestion that there is something inherently violent about a given creed and its followers, especially when they’re shaky on the facts, should be prepared to defend themselves against charges of religious bigotry. That’s not a function of standard political correctness; that’s just plain old logic. Generalizing about something based on a small sample is a logical fallacy; generalizing about the creed of Islam and the people who practice it based on its most radical components is the logical fallacy of religious bigotry. I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing, but if that is what you’re doing, deal with it.

  20. Anyway, I have very little to learn about America from those who would typify Christianity and its followers by the actions of Ulster Unionists and the IRA, and I don’t have anything to learn about the Middle East from those who would typify Islam and its followers by the actions of its extreme elements either.

    P.S. I haven’t seen Tim use the bit in context, bit I’ve read much of what he’s published over the last couple of years and I doubt he intended to suggest that Muslims are inherently violent; rather, I suspect he used the bit for comic effect. Other well-known blogs use the bit in the context I denounced above, and you are defending them and the use of the bit in that context, are you not?

    …I don’t throw the term around carelessly.

  21. I guess I just took exception to your assertion that those who sarcastically say “Islam is Peace” are bigots. The sarcasm is an understandable response to the political correctness that academics, the press and our politicians continue to shove down our throats.

    Do you really need me to cite specific quotes? I think you get my point.

    And while I agree with you that this is, in fact, a war against radical Islam, I would caution that the radicals account for a significant portion of the Muslim population, even right here in the U.S. Of course, how we define “radical” could be up for debate.

    I’m always careful to never generalize across an entire group or sub-group (the Hard Left being the lone exception) but I do think we’ve got a problem with Islam so long as the radicals continue to exert increasing dominance over the “mainstream”.

  22. At the risk of beating a dead horse….

  23. …Well pardon me for the bedtime story! I guess I never get bored debunking Republican propaganda victims, but, then again, I like arguing with Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    …They always skip my door now; the last time, I had to chase them half-way down the street!

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