historical understanding of Islam and tells it like it is.”
It is accompanied by links to a couple of web pages where Mr. Spencer apparently offers his copious outpourings of insight and wisdom. My presumption is that the commentator believes I should read Spencer instead of Cole on matters of Middle East Politics and History. I will contrast the two in as neutral a way as I am able:
Robert Spencer is a toady for notorious fanatic and all around buffoon David Horowitz  . He holds an M.A. in Religious Studies (with a thesis not on Islam but on 19th Century Catholicism) and has published a handful of books published by Regnery, well known purveyor of conservative drivel. Spencer is director of Jihad-Watch and he writes regularly for those well-known bastions of solid scholarship Frontpage and Human Events.
Juan Cole is is Richard P. Mitchell Distinguished University Professor at the Unviersity of Michigan. He has a Ph.D. (UCLA, 1984) in Islamic Studies, has published a handful of books with academic presses and a very large number of papers in scholarly journals, speaks several Middle Eastern and South Asisan languages, has served as President of the Middle East Studies Association and as Editor of the Association's Journal ... and so on.
One may not want to believe Dr. Cole and I have only recommended one essay he has written. But as a matter of initial warrant, at least, if I am given the choice between listening to a person whose work is independently assessed and published, who speaks the relevant indigenous languages, and who has been recognized by his peers and listening to an autodidact whose work is published by an ideologically driven press, I know where I place my bets. The problem with right-wingers is that they place their bets wrongly.