Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Eric Alterman interviewed,  making standard conservative arguments.
What if the critique were that the magazine was not publishing enough black people writing about civil rights? Or enough women writing about abortion? Both, it seems, would be rather uncontroversial critiques in liberal circles. Would not Alterman himself critique a think tank hosting an all-white panel talking about the problems facing “urban America”?

“If the Brookings Institution were having a forum on urban America, would I insist that a black person be in there? No,” said Alterman. “I would insist that people there know what they’re talking about and have good evidence to support their arguments.”

Fox News could always find someone to provide an African-American stamp on a right-wing agenda, no doubt. But is there not something to be said for diversity? Even the hypothetical “best” white person with the most correct of political views has blind spots — and no amount of empathy can replace the experience of, say, growing up wealthy in the suburbs with growing up poor in the city.

The focus should be on views, not backgrounds, according to Alterman, as identities are not “useful signifiers when it comes to intellectual discourse.” Indeed, “I think they are reductive and a means of avoiding the issue. And there’s no better example than Israel-Palestine because of all the Jews who hate Israel and would like to see it disappear.”
Also this: “By essentializing Jewishness rather than a viewpoint, they are calling attention to a person’s identity…”

Zionism is a viewpoint relating to Jewish identity and those who disagree with Zionism should focus on the viewpoint not Jewish identity itself.  Zionists can call themselves Jews but anyone else who calls them Jews is an anti-Semite.

"I'm a Jew" - Kosher
"You're a Jew" - anti-Semitic
"I'm black."- Right on
"You're black." - Cracker motherfucker

Alterman contradicts himself. He opposes diversity but he's made the argument for it: people and groups can not only be spoken about or for, they need to speak and be heard. "Black" and "Jew"mean different things depending on the speaker. The perception of the audience is key.

And, as alway, the politics of the analytic philosophy of language sucks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Brad DeLong is no more than a ferocious bully, I avoid recommending Berkeley economics to students because of him. What makes DeLong important is that he shows the McCarthy-like lengths to which a Democrat will repeatedly go to intimidate anyone.