Monday, March 28, 2005

'Elp! 'Elp! I'm Being Repressed!

Will someone please inform Professor Juan Cole (not to be confused with John Cole, ever) that what he calls "a new way of discrediting a political opponent" is also known as good ol'-fashioned criticism?

It seems to me that David Horowitz and some far rightwing friends of his have hit upon a new way of discrediting a political opponent, which is the GoogleSmear. It is an easy maneuver for someone like Horowitz, who has extremely wealthy backers, to set up a web magazine that has a high profile and is indexed in google news. Then he just commissions persons to write up lies about people like me (leavened with innuendo and out-of-context quotes). Anyone googling me will likely come upon the smear profiles, and they can be passed around to journalists and politicians as though they were actual information.

Nnnno. You're kidding, Professor! You mean, someone can have the temerity to (1) say something unflattering about you on the web and (2) get other people to read it, and link approvingly? Those Rovian fiends are Pure Evil Geniuses&trade!

Lest we have any doubts on what Cole considers quality argument, he approvingly cites an "ascerbic dissection" by no less an intellectual luminary than Dennis "Justin" Raimondo. (I must have missed the "dissection" entirely, as Raimondo does nothing more than call Plaut a few names, throw out some innuendo, and pile on enough non-sequiturs to stock two Costco aisles -- but hey, Professor Cole says it's "ascerbic," and who am I to argue?) Raimondo and Cole as allies -- enough said, really.

Well, maybe not quite, because the good Professor just can't resist setting himself up as the poor, defenseless Arab martyr to Horowitz's Merkava tank:

I am well aware that the GoogleSmear and other techniques of propaganda may well succeed. Horowitz and his minions are funded to the tune of millions, and I am just one lone individual. And, maybe it is even dangerous to tangle with someone who admires Kahane and his followers.

I'm not a fan of Horowitz, and I can't comment on his "millions." But really -- the good Professor works for one of the wealthiest universities in this nation, which funds all of his "work," including his pro-terrorist propaganda, and gives him credibility to boot. Yet the man fears a global Likud conspiracy with Horowitz on its pointy end, spending seven-digit sums to publish web sites that get indexed by Google. Fight the power, Dr. Cole.

Update: Dan Darling beat me to this, with a better response.

Steven Plaut has also written a thorough rebuttal of Cole's ramblings, including this revealing look at the Cole-Raimondo method of "research":

Cole rests the better part of his “self-defense” on labeling me “an Israeli defender of the terrorists (sic) around the late extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane,” the fellow who set up the Jewish Defense League. So what is the source of this invention reported with scholarly seriousness by Professor Juan Cole? Why, it is Justin Raimondo himself, of course! In fact, Cole thanks Raimondo profusely on his web page for smearing me as a supposed Kahanist.

The only problem is that I am not. Raimondo’s evidence for this smear against me is that he googled my name and the word “Kahanist” together, and discovered two articles of mine in which I used the word “Kahanist” in the text. But that was all he found. In neither article did I express any support for the Kahanists or Kahanism. Talk about Googlesmears! Cole, also accuses me of posting comments under a false name on a web bulletin board and accuses me of using illegal drugs, which is equally fanciful and absurd.

Just to add my small contribution to the "GoogleSmearing," here is Steven Plaut's original article on Juan Cole, meticulously researched, filled with direct quotes and links to original material -- contrast with the "material" that Cole and Raimondo present as their own alleged "refutations" of this article. Plaut is just not in Cole and Raimondo's league. Plaut should be proud of this.

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