Yesterday I linked to stories that explored how terrorism experts stoke fear-mongering media. In comments, Steven Gross sensibly asked for some articulation. In particular, Gross asked: "how does that make McCants a bullshitter? And what's the evidence that he's probably bought (and by whom)?"
McCants is named as the particular source of some of the media's most fallacious claims about the true nature of the Norwegian killings. Now, first, I don't read the original story as directed at McCants (whom I did not name). I read it, rather, as exemplaric of the way "expert" speculations are taken over as facts by mainstream media. (If anything, if there is a target at all in the original link it is Daniel Pipes, a Republican hack, I mean self-described terrorism expert, who -- in virtue of his hate mongering -- is revealed as inspiring actual terrorism in Norway.) But...second...having said that...let's explore McCants a bit.
McCants is "a research analyst at the Center for Strategic Studies at CNA." To learn more about CNA go to: http://www.cna.org/about There one learns that CNA is essentially a Government think-tank, Consultant, and policy implementor with the Department of Defense as largest (I think) customer.
So, rather than being an independent scholar, this person (McCants) is knee-deep in the military-industrial complex. (Recall that when Eisenhower coined the term he was most concerned by its impact on the corrosion of scholarly independence.)
No doubt some of CNA's and his customers sometimes want his frank opinion, but more likely than not folk of his ilk will meet...ahum...his customer's needs. (It's a living, after all.) It is in that sense that such a person, who may also have legitimate scholarly activities, is "bought," by which I don't mean official corruption, but more the insidious echo-chamber of received opinion among interested stake-holders.
Have I made the case that this claims are bullshit? No, of course not.
Was my headline blogging, thus, hyperbole? Well, not entirely.
Here we have an instance when an expert in one area (Jihadism--and let's allow that McCants qualifies) is ill equipped to describe/analyze another area (Xenophobic, European Right Wing Extremism). By seeing the world exclusively through his expert lens and not recognizing its limits, he (unintentionally) spouts bullshit. It can happen to any expert, especially when embedded in the Military-Industrial-Media complex.
PS None of this is deny that there are dangerous Jihadists who need to be studied, too.