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April 24, 2006
Now Batting For Taliban Man ... Jewish-Conspiracy Man!

John Fund, who has kept alive the story of Yale's egregious admission of the Taliban propagandist, now reports that Yale may trade one Zionist-conspiracy theorist with another. Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi may not qualify for his program at Yale next semester as the university finally tries to clarify the "moral purpose" of Yale's existence, but they may balance that by inviting a professor with similar ideas about the inordinate Jewish influence on American government:

Taliban Man's days as a Bulldog look to be numbered. But Yale may be about to stir up new controversy as it appears to be on the verge of offering a notorious anti-Israel academic a faculty position. ...

Last week, Yale's president, Richard Levin, issued a statement saying that a review he had ordered "raised questions whether the admissions practices of the non-degree Special Student Program have been consistent with the published criteria, let alone the standard that should prevail." He noted that "in recent years, while fewer than 10% of the applicants to the regular undergraduate program have received offers of admission, more than 75% of the applicants to the non-degree program have been admitted."

Mr. Levin's conclusion was that both the nondegree and Whitney special programs "suffer from lack of clarity about mission, purpose, and standards." He ordered they undergo a full review to define "admissions criteria consistent with the high standards and moral purposes of a leading institution of higher learning." The Yale Daily News reported that in an interview Mr. Levin made clear that Mr. Hashemi's pending application in the Whitney program will be held to the same standard as that of a regular applicant.

The morality of allowing a member of a government that oppressed people as brutally as the Taliban has been clear to everyone except the Yale admissions office. Despite the months of controversy over the admission of Hashemi, Yale has refused to budge from its decision. Even after an impromptu on-campus scolding from a true refugee from Afghanistan -- a woman who experienced the oppression of Hashemi's regime -- Yale's admissions office still refused to reconsider the wisdom of its choice.

Hashemi was no nameless cog in the machine of the Taliban's rule. Despite his youth, the Taliban sent him abroad as an ambassador without portfolio to put the best possible face on the Islamist dictatorship. While the Taliban's secret police went into people's homes to beat men for not properly growing their beards and women for insufficient modesty, Hashemi attempted to convince Western nations to recognize their government as legitimate. He traveled to the US prior to 9/11 to speak on behalf of the Taliban, winding up with a mission to explain how the Islamists had to destroy priceless Buddha statues in Bamiyan in order to practice their faith, which had been fairly unmolested by the Buddhas for 1400 years. Hashemi acted as the Taliban's chief apologist to the West and bears responsibility for the government he not only served but actively defended.

Yale may finally have come to its senses about Hashemi, although they have taken a rather cowardly way out of the controversy by claiming to want higher standards rather than just expelling Hashemi and admitting their mistake. That brings us to their next mistake, a potential hire that may just fill the role of Zionist-conspiracy theorist that Hashemi's departure leaves open:

Meanwhile, Yale faces a new challenge. In the next few days the university may hire Juan Cole, a history professor at the University of Michigan, to fill a new spot as a professor of contemporary Middle East studies.

Mr. Cole's appointment would be problematic on several fronts. First, his scholarship is largely on the 19th-century Middle East, not on contemporary issues. "He has since abandoned scholarship in favor of blog commentary," says Michael Rubin, a Yale graduate and editor of the Middle East Quarterly. Mr. Cole's postings at his blog, Informed Comment, appear to be a far cry from scholarship. They feature highly polemical writing and dubious conspiracy theories.

In justifying all the time he spends on his blog, Mr. Cole told the Yale Herald that "when you become a public intellectual, it has the effect of dragging you into a lot of mud." Mr. Cole has done his share of splattering. He calls Israel "the most dangerous regime in the Middle East." That ties in with his recurring theme that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee effectively controls Congress and much of U.S. foreign policy. In an article titled "Dual Loyalties," he wrote, "I simply think that we deserve to have American public servants who are centrally commited [sic] to the interests of the United States, rather than to the interests of a foreign political party," namely Israel's right-wing Likud, which was the ruling party until Ariel Sharon formed the centrist Kadima Party. Mr. Cole claims that "pro-Likud intellectuals" routinely "use the Pentagon as Israel's Gurkha regiment, fighting elective wars on behalf of Tel Aviv."

Juan Cole has gathered a significant following at Informed Comment, and at least blogs reasonably honestly about his positions. However, as Fund notes, Cole has given up scholarly writing for polemics in doing so, and it calls into question his approach to his subject matter. Cole has embraced the most radical positions of anti-Israel politics, which is, of course, his right. Even so, Yale should take into account his actions and his rhetoric, which not only express the most radical of academic thought but also go against the values of education and free debate in general. Cole recently appeared on the Yale campus to take part in a "teach-in" to protest the Iraq War, an activity that will no doubt take up much of the professor's time if hired by Yale. Fund relates a Cole interview with the Detroit Free Press in which he exhorted the government to close down Fox News for "polluting the information environment". Fund even quotes Noam Chomsky as questioning Cole's judgment, and when someone gets to the left of Chomsky, that is a remarkable achievement.

It appears that Yale has a new quota system in place -- one that requires a certain level of Zionist-conspiracy theorists to be on campus at any one time. Instead of relying on its students and the admissions department, Yale's executives seem to want to address it through its faculty.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 24, 2006 6:13 AM

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