The title of the post is the working title for the book I’ve subtitled: A Medievalist’s Guide to the 21st Century and am working on now.
The title came to me while reading about the Fort Hood Affair, and the following remark actually nailed it for me. Shades of Larry Derfner on my racism for saying the Palestinians staged al Durah: political correctness induced stupidity.
I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a long time. Here’s just a brief take on a remarkable essay by Eric Alterman, who clearly considers himself a spokesman for liberal thinking on why he thinks Marty Peretz is a racist.
Peretz regularly employs TNR’s website to publish what are inarguably racist rants directed toward Arabs and other adherents of Islam. A recitation of just his greatest hits on this score might fill this entire magazine, but here’s a representative example:
I actually believe that Arabs are feigning outrage when they protest what they call American (or Israeli) ‘atrocities.’ They are not shocked at all by what in truth must seem to them not atrocious at all. It is routine in their cultures. That comparison shouldn’t comfort us as Americans. We have higher standards of civilization than they do.”
What I like here is the juxtaposition of “inarguably racist” and an example of a perfectly legitimate and, I’d say, fairly obvious observation about Arab/Muslim indignation. The idea that we should take Arab/Muslim indignation at face value is one of the most foolish notions imaginable. It’s essentially saying, “we cannot, must not challenge hypocrisy.”
Several cases in point:
1) Abu Graibh: Arabs — Hamas and the PA in particular — engage in far more grotesque and vicious forms of torture. Who are they to denounce us?
2) The Danish Cartoons: The Arab and Muslim world are filled with far more vicious images of the West; why would we allow them to cow us with their indignation?
3) The Pope’s comments on Islam as a violent religion: their response? to riot; our response? denounce the pope for provocation. They should be the laughing stock.
4) Operation Cast Lead: read Understanding the Goldstone Report.
5-3000): fill in the blanks.
Alterman concludes the essay:
In the meantime, perhaps anyone who considers him- or herself to be a genuine friend of Marty Peretz or his magazine might suggest that he consider a long, restful vacation. It would be good for The New Republic, good for American liberalism and, believe me, good for the Jews.
So much for the embrace of a healthy atmosphere of contesting ideas. No. The opposition “smears” (not Alterman, who refers to the “neo-con dominated world of Jewish institutional politics”), and I [Alterman] know that Israel must “find a common ground for peace with the Palestinians… [and] withdraw from the West Bank,” therefore anyone who disagrees with me should shut up for the sake of peace. Anyone who doesn’t shut up, and continues to harp on such unpleasant aspects of the problem as the motivations and behavior of those nice people with whom we are to find “common ground,” is “hurting the Jews and Israel.”
And we thought it was mostly the Palestinians who engaged in mirroring.
Ron Radosh has an interesting meditation on this piece including some material on what would appear to be a more nuanced attitude by Alterman on these issues, which apparently don’t have much staying power in his short term memory.