While on the road, I was amazed to read this quote in The Nation, served up by Joshua Landis after Yale’s thumbs-down to Juan Cole: “Juan Cole has done something that no other Middle East academic has done since Bernard Lewis, who is 90 years old: He has become a household word. He has educated a nation.”
Cole, a household word? Through which mass media? His blog? His Salon.com pieces? His occasional appearances on the NewsHour? Cole’s name is a blogosphere word, but it’s no household word.
As it happens, there is another Middle East academic, aside from Lewis, who is a household word: Fouad Ajami. It is Ajami—consultant to CBS News, columnist for U.S. News & World Report, frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Foreign Affairs—who’s mastered the mainstream media from within academe. Unlike Cole, he can speak Arabic on Al-Jazeera, and unlike Cole, he’s been to Iraq six times and even written a book about it.
Zombies of the Cole cult seem to be programmed to ignore Ajami for just these reasons. Is Landis one of them?