Kristina Harrigan in the New Mexican on Continuing Lannan Fdn Bias 4/4/16

Yasher koach to Kristina for her publication today (4/4/16).  Thanks to Phil Goldstone for his assistance.  Already a “thank you” to Kristina from someone in California in the “Comments” section.

Reader View: Lannan speakers continue to show bias – Santa Fe New Mexican

On Wednesday, the Lannan Foundation will present yet another Middle East “expert” whose views are profoundly anti-American, anti-Israel and anti-West.

This “expert” is Juan Cole, a professor of Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. He became known in the media after he started his blog, Informed Comment. Cole’s speeches and blog reveal a conviction that U.S. foreign policy is controlled by neoconservative operatives and Israel supporters — he calls them “Likudniks” — whose baleful influence is at the root of the political and economic problems besetting the Middle East.

The factual underpinnings of Cole’s blog postings demonstrate that his opinions trump the facts on the ground. In one post, for example, he misrepresented that the 9/11 Commission determined that al-Qaida conceived the 9/11 attack as punishment for American support for Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and for Israel’s attack on the Jenin refugee camp.

The 9/11 Commission made no such determination, for the very good reason that al-Qaida planned the 9/11 attack before Sharon became prime minister and carried out the attack months before the Jenin conflict.

While reasonable people may differ about the wisdom and efficacy of U.S. policies in the Middle East, no unbiased person would equate that policy with the wholesale murder of journalists who may have “insulted” Mohammed (along with insulting every religion, politician or celebrity in its turn).

In his determination to avoid any connection between violence and Muslim terror (as opposed to U.S. foreign policy), Cole characterized the San Bernardino massacre of 2015 as “workplace violence.” He ignores the investigators’ discovery of the shooters’ radicalization and adoption of extreme Muslim views.

His response to the Paris massacre this past November similarly seeks to downplay the event by comparing it to violence perpetrated by Christians and Buddhists during the two world wars of the 20th century.

No one can deny that the violence of the 20th century has no parallel in sheer numbers. But Cole went further in his attempt to insulate Muslims from criticism for terrorist acts. He asserted that from 2007 to 2009, fewer than 1 percent of terrorist acts in Europe were committed by Muslims. This is cherry-picking the facts. According to Europol, of the 457 fatalities from acts of terrorism committed in Europe from 2000 to 2015, Muslims accounted for 428, or almost 94 percent. Once again, Cole’s bias blinds him to the facts.

Cole is not a reliable guide to events in the Middle East because his bias against the U.S. and Israel causes him to select — or invent — facts that support his bias.

As the bumper sticker seen on many local cars states: You are entitled to your opinions but not your facts. Why can’t the Lannan Foundation find more truthful and accurate speakers on the Middle East?

Kristina Harrigan has been a full-time Santa Fe resident for the past 14 years.

Mike Palaima · Shasta College, Redding CA

Since when do opinions trump facts? When Trump speaks them, and apparently when Mr Cole speaks them. Thank you for your constructive criticism. Those who will attend the discussion can be hopefully, forewarned, and perhaps ask after the discrepancies you have brought to light? As to the Lannan Foundation, maybe secure bookings is what they attend to, first and foremost? Veracity a slim commodity these days, all across the political spectrum.