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Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Socrates and Alcibiades by Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg (1816)

Socrates and Alcibiades by Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg (1816)

 

I did a series of tweets about Leo Strauss, homosociality and homoeroticism. Because people expressed interest in seeing them in one place, I’ve reprinted them (in slightly edited form) below:

1. Trigger warning. I’m starting a twitter-essay on the sexual politics of Leo Strauss.

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Norman Podhoretz: for the greater good he'll accept swarthy grand-kids but won't be happy about it.

Norman Podhoretz: for the greater good he’ll accept swarthy grand-kids but won’t be happy about it.

Fifty years ago, Norman Podhoretz wrote a profoundly stupid article called “My Negro Problem – and Ours.” The article was published in Commentary magazine, which is marking the anniversary.

I say “profoundly stupid” advisedly because Podhoretz himself, despite his reprehensible politics, is not a dumb guy. In fact, he’s a gifted editor and polemicist. The article itself is sometimes praised for being an honest attempt to describe the seriousness of racism.

Yet, what other phrase than profoundly stupid can apply to an article that argues that the best solution to racism is miscegenation. At the end of the essay Podhoretz writes:  “I cannot see how [the dream of erasing color consciousness] will ever be realized unless color does in fact disappear: and that means not integration, it means assimilation, it means—let the brutal word come out—miscegenation…. in my opinion the Negro problem can be solved in this country in no other way.”

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Hannah Arendt: theorist of revolution

 

Over at the Globe and Mail, I try to place the current turmoil in the Middle East (and elsewhere) in the context of various theories of revolution. You can read the article here.

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Assange: the ultimate gossip.

Over at the Globe and Mail I use WikiLeaks as a jumping off point for a larger discussion of the role of gossip. You can read my piece here.

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I, Asimov: A Memoir

 

“Vicious anti-Semitism was (and is again) a widespread scourge; no comparable, sustained phenomenon — ‘anti-Asianism’ — exists.” – Barbara Kay, National Post, November 23, 2010.

***

Although I was Jewish and poor as well, I benefited from the American education system at its best and attended one of its finest universities; I wondered, how many African-Americans would have had the same opportunity at that time? Denouncing antisemitism without denouncing human cruelty in general troubled me constantly. The general blindness was such that I heard Jews condemn unreservedly the phenomenon of antisemitism, and then without skipping a beat move on to the African-American question, and talk about it as if they were little Hitlers. If I pointed this out to them and objected strenuously, they turned on me. They were completely unable to see what they were doing. 

 

I once heard a lady speak passionately about the Gentiles who had done nothing to save the Jews of Europe. “You just can’t trust them,” she claimed. 

I let it pass for a while, and then I suddenly asked: “And what are you doing to help the Blacks achieve their civil rights?”

“Listen”, she retorted. “I have enough problems of my own.”

And I said: “That’s exactly what the Gentiles of Europe said.” I saw a complete lack of comprehension in her face. She couldn’t see what I was getting at. What can we do about it? The whole world seems to be permanently waving a banner that reads: “Freedom! … but not for others.”

 

 

– Isaac Asimov, I, Asimov: A Memoir (1994)

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Joe Sobran, anti-Semite

 

As I’ve noted before, the death of a bigot presents a problem for obituary writers. Politeness dictates that we skimp over the misdeeds of the dead while honesty requires a fuller reckoning with the past.

Joseph Sobran, onetime National Review editor, died earlier this week. Outside the circles of the far right, Sobran was known, to the extent he’s known at all, as someone who made repeated statements about Jews that were so embarrassing that his mentor William F. Buckley had to upbraid Sobran in the pages of the magazine they both edited. Eventually, Buckley’s magazine severed its ties with Sobran over the Jewish question.

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Marty Peretz: Twilight of the Bigot

I’ve been mulling over writing something about “the Marty Peretz situation” (as it has been called at Harvard University). The occasion for the current controversy is that there are plans to endow a research fund in Peretz’s name at Harvard. Many people, both at Harvard and elsewhere, are justifiably upset about these plans because Peretz has a long history of making bigoted comments about Muslims (exemplified by his recent statement, later retracted, that Muslims didn’t deserve First Amendment Rights) as well as equally heinous comments about various racial and ethnic groups (notably African-Americans and Hispanics).

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