first published on June 2, 2017 by Trevor
At what point will we decide that enough is enough? Yes we joke, and we create satire at the expense of nearly everything. That is all well and good, and arguably necessary, but where do we draw the line? At what point do we finally shake our index fingers and demand that the nonsense cease and desist? Many of you feel that we have reached that point already, and you probably aren’t wrong. When an article headlined with the title Ariana Grande Understands Counterterrorism Better Than Jim Mattis slides into view on your Facebook feed, you can be certain that we are well past yanking on the reigns. Hold on to your IPADs, wool beanies, and safety pins snowflakes; sh*t just got real.
Juan Cole is a professor at the University of Michigan, and a media contributor. Any semblance of fact that might have been contained in his “polarizing” article was overshadowed when the article was published with such an asinine title. To step in to an argument by claiming that Ariana Grande understands counterterrorism better than the Secretary of Defense; especially when that person is James Mattis, places that step directly into your own mouth. Including the statement “the second-most-followed-person on instagram” when pleading your case, does more of the same.
Once past the title, Mr. Cole does attempt to make an argument based on his view of the facts. Some of it had the evidence of liberal bias, but it mostly highlights current and historical conflict in the region. He also lays out how our involvement in these conflicts may have paved the way for ISIS. He made two big mistakes; comparing Mattis to, and bookending his argument with, Ariana Grande.
If the title had been “The Pentagon’s Approach To Terrorism Dismisses Lessons Learned In The Region,” no one would have batted an eye. That is precisely the problem, disrespecting one of the greatest military leaders in recent memory so that you have click bait for your article is nonsense. To then close out the article by refocusing on the pop star who has no business being mentioned in a sentence with “Pentagon” or “counterterrorism,” shows the belief that the audience is too dumb to understand facts and needs something shiny to keep their attention. In short, the quality and purpose of the article is lost in the shadow of a title that has one purpose, to make Mattis look like an idiot.
The delusion that is required to make such a distasteful statement is self evident. This man has a long and specific education, one that gives his argument weight. Yet he chose to title his work in the most inflammatory way possible instead of letting his argument do the talking. That is because the real message is in the title, he thinks that James Mattis is a fool. That is all that he wants his readers to know, and that is why he started and finished his article with Ariana.
Using a figure as popular as Ariana Grande is a sure fire way to guarantee that the smear would take hold. It is also guaranteed to cause the most outrage among those that aren’t looking to be brainwashed. The worst part is that someone, if not several people, saw this before publication. The loose tie-in of the final paragraph is not enough to justify the title. If the title was not the desired message, then no one would have allowed it to be published. It has almost zero connection to the fabric of the article. This is the world the we have created… a world where wild accusations can headline a loosely related article, and progress an agenda.
It is obvious that Mr. Cole is pushing the liberal agenda with abandon in his article. His views, while educated, are not based in experience. To then use a pop star as the example that Mattis should be strive to achieve is more evidence of the same. This is a punch line title for an article that was never meant to be read, the only goal is to steer opinion. This is going too far, and it is not something that we can stand by and watch any longer.
Cole’s article is well worth outrage. To disrespect a man who has literally spent his entire life serving this country by claiming that a pop star with no idea of what life is like for the average american, especially its service members, has a better understanding of counterterrorism, is inexcusable. The fact that Grande has a history of sharing distaste for this country makes it all the more frustrating. This has gone beyond poor humor, this is utter disrespect. Shame on you, Juan Cole. This article creates the same animosity that it aims to prevent abroad. More ludicrous than the article, is the fact that this man is a professor. It’s no wonder that today’s college students are more often brainwashed than educated.
If the nothing else, this article proves that we are mere steps away from traveling down the wrong road. Opinion and “feelings” should never outweigh fact and reality. No one is above criticism, but someone as educated and respected as Mr. Cole, should be above the outlandish way that he disrespected James Mattis. There is an old tale about a man who built 1,000 bridges, maybe someone should tell it to Professor Juan Cole.