Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May 15 is Nakba Day

Via Leiter:
Michael Lynch: I remember sitting in a philosophy course in college at 8:30 in the morning, listening to a lecture on Descartes, and thinking I had stumbled onto the secret language of the world. And while I admit that I sometimes weary of the whirligig of academic life, I still have that first sense of finding my creative home. Here’s a simpler way of putting it: I couldn’t stop thinking about this stuff if I tried.

3:AM: It might seem obvious to some people, but to others the question of ‘what is truth?’ doesn’t seem quite as important as it once did. Why do you think this is such an important question, not just for philosophy but for the rest of us?

ML: During the Bush administration, Ron Susskind famously reported that one of Bush’s top advisors (probably Karl Rove) sneered that the administration’s critics were continuing to live in the “reality-based community”. That was a mistake, he said, because “we are an empire now, we create our own reality”. This is a telling remark. It illustrates not only what was wrong with that administration but why truth is so important a concept – and not just for philosophers. When we ignore the difference between what those in power say is true and what is true, we risk not only losing our rights, but the ability to even give ourselves any critical voice. So that is why thinking about truth matters - because the truth matters.
From Nir Rosen:
Joseph Massad on the Nakba
While the Nakba has been translated into English as “catastrophe,” “disaster,” or “calamity,” these translations do not fully grasp the active ramifications of its Arabic meanings. The Nakba as an act committed by Zionism and its adherents against Palestine and the Palestinians has rendered the Palestinians mankubin. English does not help much in translating mankubin, unless we can stretch the language a bit and call Palestinians a catastrophe-d or disaster-ed people. Unlike the Greek catastrophe, which means overturning, or the Latin disaster, which means a calamitous event occurring when the stars are not in the right alignment, the Nakba is an act of deliberate destruction, of visiting calamities upon a people, of a well-planned ruining of a country and its inhabitants. The word was coined by the eminent Arab intellectual Constantine Zureik in his August 1948 short book on the meaning of the Nakba that was ongoing as he wrote it, just like it is as I write these lines.
"The quote from Susskind's article: "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors… and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

I doubt Lynch shares Massad's opinions regarding Zionism, but whatever they are I'm sure he'd claim they were the product of reason.

I'm amazed always at Leiter's refusal to face the meaning and importance of "due process", why it's central to our legal system, and to representative government. The Palestinians have been denied due process, not only in law but in public life. Until recently in our culture they've had few advocates nor have they been in a position to be their own, and that skewed the common understandings to which Leiter and Lynch subscribe.

Antonin Scalia in dissent: in re Troy Anthony Davis
“This court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a court that he is ‘actually' innocent.”
As a matter of law, Scalia is right: "due process" is not "due result"; the ends do not justify the means. There were other ways to argue Troy Davis' defense. Scalia chose those that served the prosecution. If he were consistent in his pedantry he'd defend Miranda rights and Al Gore would have been a one term president. Scalia's strategic passivity, and activism by turns, serves state power where others would argue the Constitution constrains it.

"And is, then, all which is just pious? or, is that which is pious all just, but that which is just, only in part and not all, pious?

“History is like foreign travel. It broadens the mind but does not deepen it”

Plato, and Descartes.
I don't know what's worse, the arrogant hypocrisy of Scalia's pompous authoritarianism or Leiter's willed naiveté.
I think Leiter ignores the philosophical foundations of due process because those foundations function as a denial or refusal of the need for "truth". Philosophers, as theologians, are horrified by the relativism democracy requires.

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