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Wednesday, May 03, 2006
 
Juan Stupid Response--Updated!



Christopher Hitchens writes in Slate about Juan Cole's denial that Iran's president wants to wipe Israel off the map.

Cole continues to present himself as an expert on Shiism and on the Persian, Arabic, and Urdu tongues. Let us see how his claim vindicates itself in practice. Here is what he wrote on the "Gulf 2000" e-mail chat-list on April 22:

It bears repeating as long as the accusation is made. Ahmadinejad did not "threaten" to "wipe Israel off the map." I'm not sure there is even such an idiom in Persian. He quoted Khomeini to the effect that "the Occupation regime must end" (ehtelal bayad az bayn berad). And, no, it is not the same thing. It is about what sort of regime people live under, not whether they exist at all. Ariel Sharon, after all, made the Occupation regime in Gaza end.


Hitchens does a pretty good job of demonstrating that Ahmadinejad did indeed make the threat and that it's pretty noncontroversial in Iran, since the Ayatollah himself called for the destruction of Israel.

Now, Cole could have responded substantively. Instead he whines:

I belong to a private email discussion group called Gulf2000. It has academics, journalists and policy makers on it. It has a strict rule that messages appearing there will not be forwarded off the list....Hitchens somehow hacked into the site, or joined and lurked, or had a crony pass him things.

He hacked into an email list? That's a buffoonish claim, revealing Cole's ignorance of what "hacking" is. Perhaps realizing that this is a thin reed, Cole gets personal:

Well, I don't think it is any secret that Hitchens has for some time had a very serious and debilitating drinking problem. He once showed up drunk to a talk I gave and heckled me. I can only imagine that he was deep in his cups when he wrote, or had some far Rightwing think tank write, his current piece of yellow journalism. I am sorry to witness the ruin of a once-fine journalistic mind.

Yeah, we can tell you're all choked up about it.

Note particularly that Hitchens cites Cole on April 22:

I'm not sure there is even such an idiom in Persian.


However, in today's response, Cole is positive:

I was arguing that there is no Persian idiom to wipe something off the map, and that Ahmadinejad has been misquoted.


Update: Andrew Sullivan reports he was at Hitchens' when the piece was filed and that Hitch was stone cold sober.

Update II: Hugh Hewitt interviews Hitchens:

CH: Well, I've always thought that attacks of that kind, wherever they come from, were invariably a sign of weakness. I mean, if Juan Cole wrote a piece attacking me, and all I could think of in reply was to say well, he seems like a dope fiend, or a closet case, or a pederast, I would feel that I wasn't really meeting his argument, I mean, that I hadn't replied to the points he'd made against me. The ad hominem is widely and rightly denounced, because it shows a collapse on the part of the person who uses it. They won't reply to your point, they won't reply to your case. And Cole, who is the embodiment of the mediocre, this would not surprise me in the least. I mean, he writes as if he's drunk, because you have to, the sentences are made up of syntactical train wrecks. But I don't think it's alcohol in his case. I think it's illiteracy, simply.

Hat Tip: TC
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