An Academic Loses Control

Iconoclastic journalist Christopher Hitchens yesterday published an amusing article criticizing Juan Cole, a prominent leftwing academic currently being considered for a position in Mideast studies at Yale, for relying on faulty translations in his argument that Iranian President Ahmadinejad did not really call for Israel to be wiped off the map.

Cole struck back on his weblog today with a rather unscholarly response, attributing Hitchens’ article to Hitchens’ alleged "serious and debilitating drinking problem."

Then Cole’s response really becomes unhinged. He portrays Hitchens as part of some nefarious rightwing conspiracy aimed at discrediting his weblog (you’d think a good rightwing conspiracy would have higher goals). You can feel Cole being totally overtaken by his paranoia and extremism as he switches gears, explains Hitchens’ article as an attempt to drum up support for war with Iran, and then calls on his imaginary minions to take to the streets to denounce the current war in Iraq.

Cole’s rant really has to be read to be believed. The total lack of political moderation, reason, and common sense indicate he’ll fit in wonderfully with the rest of the Yale faculty.

Postscript: As I finished writing this post, I noticed that Juan Cole’s weblog has suddenly gone offline. I would not be surprised if a friend of his advised him to take down or severely alter his post on Hitchens, which makes him sound like he needs to be put under the care of Nurse Ratched.