Monday, March 20, 2006

Fisking the Harvard Elite

The American Thinker does a masterful job at exposing the fallacies in the article "The Israel Lobby" mentioned in my previous blog entry.

As one reads the article itself, with its ominous constant repetition of the dangers of "The Lobby" (they might as well just say "The Elders"), it brings home a point that we can learn from.

People who hate Israel (and Jews, however nicely they want to pretend it isn't at all about Jews) are not necessarily stupid or backwards. They are not all crazy rioting Arabs or white-hooded cross-burning Klansmen.

As much as we would like to pretend that knowledge and intelligence can inoculate people from prejudice and bigotry, it simply isn't true. If a person has an irrational fear or hatred, they can marshal tons of "evidence" to prove their point. Such evidence may be laughable coming from a garden-variety racist but from an academic it can have the veneer of respectability, almost as if their hate is a scientific theory and can be proven true.

Even hard scientists, with checks and balances built into the scientific method, can fall prey to bias. How much more so the hundreds of academics, who believe in their own intelligence so much so that they cannot look objectively at their own biases, who go through life with the fear and respect of their students giving them nothing but positive feedback - how easy it is for them to believe that their own ugly biases are really Truth, and they have no problem finding like-minded colleagues who can reinforce their beliefs. They pretend to look at all sides of an issue but they know the answer before they even start.

Being intellectual has nothing to do with being intellectually honest.

The article has this amazing paragraph:
One might argue that Israel and the Lobby have not had much influence on policy towards Iran, because the US has its own reasons for keeping Iran from going nuclear. There is some truth in this, but Iran’s nuclear ambitions do not pose a direct threat to the US. If Washington could live with a nuclear Soviet Union, a nuclear China or even a nuclear North Korea, it can live with a nuclear Iran. And that is why the Lobby must keep up constant pressure on politicians to confront Tehran. Iran and the US would hardly be allies if the Lobby did not exist, but US policy would be more temperate and preventive war would not be a serious option.
When the irrational hatred of all things Zionist extend to the argument that an Iranian nuclear weapon is not something for the US to worry about, presumably because only Israel would be annihilated, we have left the realm of facts and figures and into the world of fantasy and wishful thinking, of reckless disregard for facts to advance a tendentious argument. No amount of footnotes or sources or nuclear fallout could persuade these authors that they are wrong, because they are so utterly convinced that they are right, and objectivity has disappeared long, long ago along with their ability to think critically.