Michigan Today is U of M’s thrice-yearly house organ of cheery fluff. The Summer 2004 issue has an interesting two-page interview with University professor and Arbor Blogger Juan Cole about his career, his blog, and his much-beloved—by us, at least!—perspective on the “war on terror.” An excerpt from the interview:
Robert Haug: In general, what role do you think should be played by academics in the public and political discourse?
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Juan Cole: I think it’s really unfortunate that academics have been sidelined in most important policy debates. If you watch the cable news channels, you very seldom see academics. Most of the talking heads are self-appointed experts who lack the credentials we would insist on in academia. The vast majority of the people you see talking about the Middle East on television haven’t lived there and don’t know Arabic or another Middle Eastern language, and yet they are representing themselves as founts of wisdom. I laugh often because they can’t pronounce the names and places and yet they have been brought in front of the camera as an expert. I think that there’s been an unfortunate tendency for right wing think tanks to dominate these discussions. They often produce very shoddy studies and policy recommendations, which are nevertheless taken very seriously.