Economics and similar, for the sleep-deprived
A subtle change has been made to the comments links, so they no longer pop up. Does this in any way help with the problem about comments not appearing on permalinked posts, readers?
Update: seemingly not
Update: Oh yeah!
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
The European Institute for Pretending Not To Understand Things Which You Do In Fact Understand
I am like a dog with a bone. More updates coming about that fucking big school, soonish, despite the fact that even I am bored with it.
Any road up, latest news is " Stand by for the about-to-be-launched European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism.". So its previous launches must have been aborted on the launchpad or something. If you think I'm above the "Euston, we have a problem" joke, then well no I'm not.
Anyway, horror of horrors! Richard Dawkins is an Anti-Semite who believes that a Jewish conspiracy controls the world! help help help!
Except that he fucking transparently doesn't, does he? If you look at that quote, it's very visible that he is talking about “the Jewish lobby” in the USA and its influence on foreign policy. In his cack-handed way, he's talking about our good old friends the AIPAC et al, with one part not having got the memo about how careful writers refer to ethnic or nationalist politics, one part trying to talk up his own daft project of getting the atheists organised as if they were a religion (and inter alia, presumably, grabbing some market share back from Grayling and Hitchens) and one part fairly ignorant saloon-bar grumbling about the fact that the American relationship with the hard right wing of Israeli politics is a major impediment to getting anything done on some pressing problems (a fact which is so totally commonplace, by the way, that Tony Fucking Blair has said it on several occasions). The term "Jewish lobby" is irritating and wrong because, as Mearsheimer and Walt point out, the organisations which it refers to have been so thoroughly captured by right wing politics that they're neither representative nor particularly popular with mainstream Jewish opinion, but the term is hardly unusual and somehow I doubt that Daniel Finkelstein would like to admit that the most successful lobby groups influencing American Middle East policy are trading under an assumed brand. Obviously to extend interpretative charity to Dawkins is pretty galling given the man’s own habits of taking the silliest possible interpretation of other people, but in this case it’s hardly charity; simple enlightened intellectual interest plus half a minute’s thought tells you what he’s on about.
Now, Finkelstein can't possibly mean literally that he is "frightened" or surprised that it is "part of mainstream debate" to refer to the importance of ethnic lobby group politics in US foreign policy in the Middle East. He has been comment editor of the Times for several years, and has actually written himself on the subject several times. So in order to make sense of his statement that he is "frightened", he is asking us to believe that Dawkins' statement is a literal endorsement of something not unlike the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and that the Guardian printed it, also on the understanding that Dawkins was talking about a massive ethnic conspiracy theory.
I don't know about you, but I'm actually rather insulted that Finkelstein might have thought I would believe that. Finkelstein and Norman Geras are both intelligent men. Pollard is a wittol, but even he can read and write English. They both don't agree with the Mearsheimer & Walt thesis and regard it as bordering on anti-Semitism, (which is a view I disagree with but they're entitled to it), but they're perfectly capable of distinguishing between an endorsement of that thesis and an endorsement of the Protocols. But they're asking us to believe that they, all three of them, made the same colossal and obvious misreading of Dawkins' throwaway comment in an interview, and that at least two of them radically revised their views about British society so as to believe that there is general acceptance of Jewish conspiracy theories in the UK.
What on earth is gained by this pretence? I don't think any the less of Dawkins (who I have always regarded as a twit and a liability to the anti-war movement precisely because of his habit of trying to subordinate everything to his project of being nasty to major world religions) because of it. My view on the M&W thesis is also unchanged, although it is something of a data point in favour of their subsidiary thesis about the quality of debate on this issue that three middle-ranking commentators have pretended not to see the difference, in such transparently bad faith. The main result of this is that I am just a little bit more likely to ignore Finkelstein, Geras and Pollard in two or three weeks' time when they forget how frightened they were and their discovery that Britain is a hotbed of anti-Semitism and join in some other debate about the Middle East in a relatively normal manner. I think all three of them ought to remember Mum's old advice about pulling faces; one day when they're pretending to be Melanie Phillips, the wind will change and they'll be stuck that way.
Update: Jesus, Oliver Kamm's playing this tiresome game too. Perhaps I will begin to pretend to be unable to tell the difference between anti-Communism and McCarthyism, in which case be prepared for it to start smelling a lot more like soiled pants round here. Or on the other hand, maybe not.
this item posted by the management 10/09/2007 04:58:00 AM