University of Michigan history professor and former president of the highly politicized Middle East Studies Association (MESA), Juan Cole is known for his boilerplate anti-Western remarks. His blog, Informed Comment, is chockfull of the stuff. This extremism may have accounted for the fact that Cole was denied tenured faculty positions at both Yale and Duke in 2006. It has certainly won him a starring role in Campus Watch's "Quote of the Month," which features more of Cole's unhinged commentary than those of perhaps any other Middle East studies academic.
Now comes word that Cole is to speak at a CAIR-Florida fundraising banquet in March, 2008. This is fitting for Cole and CAIR (The Council on American Islamic Relations) are two peas in a pod. Both act as apologists (and in the case of CAIR, incubators) for radical Islam and consistently paint the United States and Israel as the bad guys in the struggle therewith.
Writing at his blog, Cole supported CAIR's claim in 2006 that the suspects in the Miami terrorism case involving a plot to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower and various FBI buildings weren't really Muslims, but, rather, members of a cult that included, as he put it, just "(a little bit of) Islam." While the so-called Liberty Seven did indeed appear to be more cult-like than strictly Muslim in their religious observances, their behavior followed a pattern established by Islamic terrorists in the United States both before and after Sept. 11, 2001. What's more, Cole, in typical politically-correct fashion, chalked up their terrorist plots to "grievances and resentments of race and class inequality in the United States" and suggested that "In this case, the best counter-terrorism would be more social justice."
Similarly, CAIR, although it fashions itself a mainstream Muslim civil rights organization, has a long history of extremism. Three of its officials have been convicted on federal terrorism charges and eleven have been cited in terrorism investigations. It was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the recent case involving the now-defunct Muslim charity the Holy Land Foundation and its alleged financial ties to Hamas. Various CAIR officials have made apologetic or conspiratorial statements regarding acts of terrorism, and one has expressed a desire to see Islam dominate the U.S. Attempting to suppress free speech through libel lawsuits, boycott campaigns, and efforts to get radio hosts and columnists fired for comments deemed "Islamophobic" is CAIR's modus operandi. Indeed, Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes has born the brunt of CAIR's intimidation tactics on more than one occasion and, perhaps not coincidentally, has documented the group's true nature in great detail.
CAIR's deservedly compromised reputation is leading politicians on both sides of the aisle to distance themselves from the group in droves. One would hope Middle East studies academics would follow suit, but in the case of Cole, he is instead going out of his way to assist CAIR in their fundraising efforts. Considering his involvement, one can only assume he supports CAIR's agenda. Two peas in a pod, indeed.