Private e-mail fuels Cole-Hitchens slapfight
We don't even want to touch the heated political discussions that have surfaced in the wake of journalist Christopher Hitchens' attack on Juan Cole, a University of Michigan history professor and critic of U.S. policy in the Middle East.
But from a technology-focused vantage point, we can't help but note the related ethical question about his publishing of a private e-mail not even addressed to him. Hitchens, in an article on Slate, reams Cole for an e-mail he wrote in April to the "Gulf 2000" discussion group stating, among other things, that Iran President Mahmoud "Ahmadinejad did not 'threaten' to 'wipe Israel off the map.'"
Hitchens, who is not a member of Gulf 2000, cites an example to the contrary and dismisses Cole as "a minor nuisance on the fringes of the academic Muslim apologist community."
But Cole, in his own blog, quickly shot back by pointing out Gulf 2000's "no-forwarding" e-mail rule and questioning Hitchens' journalistic and ethical integrity for attacking him over an e-mail taken out of the context from a discussion group where people "make mistakes and they get corrected." Cole added that Hitchens' never contacted him for clarification or asked permission to publish the quote.
In an interview with conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, Hitchens maintained that any ethical problems lie with the person who sent him the e-mail and said he has "the right to keep an eye on a website that circulates gross professional slanders and libels against me..."
And you thought there was bad blood between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.
Blog community response:
"It's embarassing enough that Slate continues to publish the discredited Hitchens. The far right is already doing a St. Vitus dance over Cole's potential appointment to a Yale history chair, and now Slate has handed them an article full of typical Hitchens (bull) with which to bludgeon him."
"Leaving aside the merits of the various arguments, Hitchens truly is entertaining on the offensive, and never more so than in this interview with Hugh Hewitt."
"Worsening matters, it seems Hitchens took out parts of Cole's email, and further discussions in the group, that clarify the point and eventually contradict Hitchens weirdo assertion. Rather than be an 'apologist' for Ahmadinejad, Cole is pretty darn rough on the guy. And unlike Hitchens, he doesn't rely on bullshit to make his points against the Iranian President."
--Spittle and Ink
"Oh, the delight I felt when I saw my main man the Hitch was having a go at the good Professor Cole! It warms the heart."
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