Wednesday, September 30, 2020

  • Wednesday, September 30, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon
We've discussed before the strange phenomenon of so many philosophers through history who were also antisemitic. 

It's hard to know why this is, but I pointed out that philosophers often think that they are smarter, better and have more insight into subjects than the dumb masses, and this hubris extends into the idea that they think that anything they come up with must be assumed to be correct.

Brian Leiter is a philosopher and legal scholar who is a Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of Chicago Law School and founder and Director of Chicago's Center for Law, Philosophy & Human Values. He wrote a pithy post on his blog, which he says is the "world's most popular philosophy blog."
The biggest threat to free speech on campus and academic freedom consistently comes from the pro-Israel interest groups.  They are running scared because they realize that far too many of Israel's actions can not withstand public scrutiny.
He's referring to the Leila Khaled incident, of course. 

Interestingly, any first year student of logic could see that his second sentence is not at all implied from the first. The idea that not wanting a PFLP terrorist to be honored by a university is somehow really a fear that she is going to say something damning about Israel that we cannot read in the newspaper (or philosophy blog) is absurd and doesn't stand even five seconds of analysis.

Not that his first sentence is true either. There is at least as much of a threat to free speech by the Left. Even Leiter writes about cancel culture which is primarily a Leftist phenomenon. How many campus Middle East Studies departments have hosted Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria? If free speech is the goal, then why is the only speech allowed on most campuses so tilted against Israel?

It is undoubtedly true that Jews living in their ancestral homeland are far more likely to have their speech suppressed on campus than Palestinian terrorists. 

Two sentences. The first one has no basis in reality, and the second one does not logically follow the first. That's a pretty bad track record for a philosopher.

Leiter links to an article about the Leila Khaled event from Academe Blog. That article is not as bad, although it incorrectly refers to the incident as "censorship." It isn't.

Censorship is the suppression of speech because it is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient. Yet the objection to Khaled's talk wasn't about the content of her talk, but about her being an objectionable person - inviting an unrepentant terrorist whose support of violence against the innocent has not changed for five decades is as inappropriate as inviting a proud  racist or rapist on campus. This is obvious because no one I am aware of objected to the other anti-Israel speakers at that webinar. 

Moreover, Khaled has nothing original to say. Her words would have been the same socialist anti-Israel garbage that is said every day among the "woke" - it isn't as offensive as it is boring. 

At least the Academe blog has enough intellectual honesty to point out that progressives engage in censorship as well:
For those on the left who demand that tech companies censor speech they think are wrong or offensive, this is a chilling reminder that censorship is a dangerous weapon that can be turned against progressives. 

Leiter, with all his philosophy and legal credentials, flattens what could be a nuanced discussion of how different groups try to influence discussion into a very one-dimensional assertion of "Zionists bad." 

And for someone who is such an opponent of censorship and advocate of free speech, it is curious that Leiter does not allow comments on his blog. Perhaps he has the fear of truth that he imputes to Zionists. 

(h/t Dan P)

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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