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Friday, February 15, 2008

Pseudo-intellectualism is fun!

I noticed a few articles today that where the authors use really big words and have no clue what they are talking about.

Our first example comes from The American Muslim magazine, where author Robert Crane asserts:
In any false ideology, the prefix “neo” indicates that it is false. Placing the “neo” in front of “conservatism,” indicates that it is fraudulent, which is precisely why it is so dangerous.
This is pretty absurd (the prefix "neo-" means "new") and really nonsensical - does he mean that any ideology that isn't prefixed "neo" is true, or does his syllogism only apply to "false ideologies" to begin with?

Crane knows his audience knows nothing that would contradict an even dumber statement:
Much less has Neo-Conservatism had anything to do with spiritual Zionism, which Jews have traditionally understood as the return to God. In this sense, every Muslim should be a Zionist and should be a follower of the greatest spiritual leader of the twentieth century, Rebbe Abraham Izaac Kook, who was the Chief Rabbi of Palestine from 1919 until the outbreak of the first great Palestinian intifada against Brtish imperialism beginning in 1935.
Rav Kook was an ardent Zionist and not only in the "inner jihad" sense that Crane is applying to him; he supported a Zionist state (although not a secular one.) The statement that every Muslim should be a Zionist in Rav Kook's sense of the word is accurate but far from Crane's intent.

Notice also how Crane now retroactively refers to the riots and infighting of the 1930s - where hundreds of Arabs murdered each other - as a "great intifada."

His entire essay is filled with such quasi-scholarly garbage, but it is fun to pick apart.

Similarly, the weekly Al-Ahram English edition is always a source for pseudo-intellectual gibberish. Check this out:
All modern theories, from Hegelian dialectics to Marxian class struggle, from Max Weber's theories on the evolution of government to Sigmund Freud's analysis of civilisation and its discontents, offer insights, however varied, on the law of historical change.

These theories came my mind as I read the Winograd Report on Israel's war on Lebanon in July 2006....The pioneers of the Zionist project were cunning, managing to convince world Jewry that the rape of Palestine was a legitimate thing to do.

What gave momentum to the Zionist project was international support and the sense of vitality Ibn Khaldun so aptly described. For nearly half a century, this vitality survived as new settlers grappled with a foreign land and the fact that they had little in common. Israel was a hybrid. At the top of the social ladder were white settlers from East Europe, followed by Jews coming from Arab countries and Iran. The bottom of the social ladder was left for Jews known as the Falashas. The duality of the Ashkenazi and the Sephardim was only one aspect of disunity in Israel. And war proved to be the one rallying cry that would cement the new country. The Israelis needed wars to keep them together. Indeed, the Zionist project -- as I have said many times before -- is a project of war. It was Israel's very social fabric that triggered what the Zionists like to call "preventive wars".
The amount of projection in this last paragraph is breathtaking. While no one will argue that there wasn't discrimination against Sephardim in the 1950s, to say that the 1948 war was only meant to give unity to Jews who commonly suffered at the hands of their host nations is too absurd for words, let alone the implication that the Jews started it. (He also seems to think that the Ethiopian Jews were a part of Israel in the 1950s and 1960s.)

Again, the readers of Al-Ahram, thirsty for some sort of scholarly-sounding justification for their own prejudices and hate, lap this stuff up.