Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Root-cause type reasons

Resist everything except temptation, that's my motto.

Indeed, to his credit, O'Toole goes further than most of Israel's one-handedly gesticulating critics generally do by acknowledging that, as well as the more usual recipients of this explanatory favour, the Jewish people may also have some root-cause-type reasons for its fears and its behaviour, reasons close within historical memory. It is a rare concession these days.


Norman Geras June 09, 2010. "Acknowledging ... root-cause-type reasons" is to Fintan O'Toole's "credit." Some might disagree, and consider that such reasons are a resort of bad faith.

The plea will be made, though - it always is - that these are not apologists, they are merely honest Joes and Joanies endeavouring to understand the world in which we all live. What could be wrong with that? What indeed? Nothing is wrong with genuine efforts at understanding; on these we all depend. But the genuine article is one thing, and root-causes advocacy that seeks to dissipate responsibility for atrocity, mass murder, crime against humanity, especially in the immediate aftermath of their occurrence, is something else.

Note, first, the selectivity in the general way root-causes arguments function. Purporting to be about causal explanation rather than excuse-making, they are invariably deployed on behalf of movements, actions, etc., for which the proponent wants to engage our sympathy or indulgence, and in order to direct blame towards some party for whom he or she has no sympathy.


Some professor or other, July 13, 2005.

22 Comments:

Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Oooyah, headshot! That one's gonna hurt.

Although, as 2010 Norm would tell you, you have clearly forgotten that Terrorists Are Bad and that Democracy Is Nice, which when considered in conjunction with Hey, Look Over There! leads us to the inevitable conclusion that Norm was right all along, because you are Unserious.

This is not to imply that the Professor's rock solid logical framework is malleable to the needs of expediency. Oh Lord no, heaven forfend.

6/09/2010 07:56:00 PM  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

Let's try a little thought experiment, commandeering the Decent Tardis and going back to 1990:

Indeed, to his credit, Glenny goes further than most of Serbia's one-handedly gesticulating critics generally do by acknowledging that, as well as the more usual recipients of this explanatory favour, the Serbian people may also have some root-cause-type reasons for its fears and its behaviour, reasons close within historical memory. It is a rare concession these days.

In the middle distance, you can probably hear Quintin Hoare shouting about disgraceful apologetics.

To an Unserious reader, it might appear that Norm is responding to an atrocity committed by the side he is sympathetic to with a sneaky resort to contextualising the atrocity the better to diminish responsibility. I refuse to believe this, as that would be the dastardly act of a Moral Relativist. It is therefore an alien tactic to someone like Norm who stands foursquare for Universal Values.

But then, the trouble with Universal Values is that they can so easily be turned against those you support... or in favour of those you don't. That's why mixing the defence of Universal Values with ethnic special pleading is a tricky business best left to academic whizzkids like Norm.

6/09/2010 09:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Captain Cabernet said...

So! You're saying that terrorist bombings in London are Morally Equivalent to legitimate self-defence by Israel are you? You bastard!

6/10/2010 09:25:00 AM  
Anonymous bubby said...

You ought to check out Norm's posting from Eve Garrard today. It really is astonishing.

Garrard doesn't provide any evidence that the writers don't think that any of the other events weren't systematic war crimes and/or crimes against humanity.

Do Norm and Eve think that Israel putting 1.5 million people 'on a diet' or targeting civilians (Goldstone Report) suggests it is behaving with 'simple human decency'?

Or to put it another way. If 1.5 million Israelis were being treated the same way and living under the same conditions as the population in Gaza would they have the same attitude?

6/10/2010 10:17:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I tohught that was a Geras posting at first - I could've sworn that O'Toole was being praised by Geras the other day.

The link to 'dehumanizing Jews' is so pissweak that even the amount of rhetoric she throws at it can't even hide its weakness.

I do liek the way that these people spend all their times rtying desperately to prove that any criticism must inherently be antisemitic or illogical.

Because, of course, that's a lot easier than attempting to justify Israel's banning of all musical instruments from entering Gaza. I also like the inclusion of this in Egypt's entry:

Egypt is considering a law to strip their citizenship from any Egyptian who marries an Israeli

Cure a list of laws that Israel has considered in the past, and might do so again; cue a list of facts about Lieberman. Not sure which is worse really. If the idea is to demonstrate that other places are worse, that doesn't seem to have entirely worked.

Really odd, too, that among the places she seems to think that her case has been made before thus:

forcefully, cogently, analytically; both passionately and dispassionately; with humour and with despair

are, er, harry's place, and, er, Z-Word, an online offshoot of the AJC and a place which not only rehosts propaganda but actively produces it (see its self-created banner entitled 'the terror flotilla').

6/10/2010 11:17:00 AM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

Yeah, that Garrard piece takes whataboutery to completely new level. Whatever one thinks of Banks's assertion that Israel lacks "simple human decency" he certainly does not claim that it is uniquely guilty in this respect.

6/10/2010 11:20:00 AM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

Also, those who see Banks's remarks as an opportunity to affect some kind moral superiority might like to consider whether this is slightly undermined by allowing comments wishing a fatal accident on him.

6/10/2010 11:34:00 AM  
Anonymous sonic said...

From the comments

" Israel has executed ONE person in its history,"

Did I imagine all of those "targeted killings" (and the innocent bystanders)

On the wider issue of the boycott I think it is now a given that it is happening. This years Trade Union conferences will set the seal on it.

6/10/2010 12:03:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

off topic - looks like our nick's deleted his twitter account.

6/10/2010 04:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also off topic - The 'World of Decency' subsection of Aaro Watch could have all sorts of fun with this.

http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/06/10/its-now-down-to-ken-to-win-london-for-labour/

Hinton

6/10/2010 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Egypt is considering a law to strip their citizenship from any Egyptian who marries an Israeli

When your only defence is to make moral comparisons with Egypt's government...

6/10/2010 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Did I imagine all of those "targeted killings" (and the innocent bystanders)

Its not an execution if there's the possibility of collateral damage, its legitimate self-defence.

6/10/2010 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger Coventrian said...

I know this is unchivalrous, but spotted today in Poundland Leeds, 'Made in Heaven' by by Adele Geras.

http://adelegeras.com/adults.html

6/10/2010 11:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Nowt wrong with Adele. OK, the RF sounds awful, but I'm not the target market & suspect you're not either, coventrian. And her kids' books & her poetry are both pretty good.

6/11/2010 07:53:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Are they realted then? I wondered. I sell a fair few of her books: matter of fact I'm giving Cleopatra to my wife's niece next time I'm in england.

6/12/2010 08:19:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Ah, bothering to check Wikipedia, I see she's his missus.

6/12/2010 08:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Darius Jedburgh said...

Garrard's suggestion that Banks' remark about Israel's actions lacking human decency taps into the Nazi trope about Jews not being fully human is almost as barking as her notorious claim that comparing Bush to Hitler is a form of Holocaust denial. Also notice that, while the Holocaust trumps every injustice in recorded history, there is no action of Israel's that is not in turn trumped by pretty much any other injustice going on right now -- including, in a final hallucinatory twist, the US/UK invasion of Iraq!

6/12/2010 01:17:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I just can't take Eve Garrard seriously. She's a very boring writer, and the whole point of existence for her as far as I can see is to convince anyone unfortunate enough to come within hailing range of her innate moral superiority and perpetual victimhood.

I believe that certain American Jews, including Mel Brooks and Larry David, have been carrying out a project to remove any seriousness - and hence any credibility - from Nazism. Neither 'The Producers' nor the 'Soup Nazi' episode of Seinfeld (or the first episode of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' etc) were intentional Holocaust denial, but attempts to reduce the Nazis to their proper - bathetic - place in history. The Nazis really weren't particularly special: mass slaughter and persecution are unfortunately recurring themes in history, and the US and the UK aren't clean of either.

In the German concentration camps, Jews wore yellow stars while homosexuals wore pink triangles. I was present when Christopher Isherwood tried to make this point to a young Jewish movie producer. "After all," said Isherwood, "Hitler killed six hundred thousand homosexuals." The young man was not impressed. "But Hitler killed six million Jews," he said sternly. "What are you?" asked Isherwood. "In real estate?"

Pink Triangle and Yellow Star. So far, no one has suggested that an independent state be set up for the other group persecuted by the Nazis. It's taken a long time for the recognition of lifelong partnerships to be recognised by countries in the civilised world (ie the EU), and we still have to wait for backward US states. Melanie Phillips said somewhere recently that all civilisation goes back to monotheistic religion (I think she calls it Judeo-Christian values or something equally ridiculous). Except it doesn't, of course. The Hippocratic Oath, one of the most sensible pledges in human history owes nothing (or zero, a number unknown to the Hebrews) to the Middle East. Likewise irrational numbers, pi (the Bible thinks the value is 3), heliocentrism, and gay sex are either denied by Abrahamic cults or persecuted by them.

Where's the outrage?

6/12/2010 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Oh hell, did I write "for the recognition of ... to be recognised"? Looks like I did, and I missed it in preview. And I know that that came close (!) to being anti-Semitic, but I hate Christians too. (And Leviticus rivals 'The Protocols...' for a spot in the charts of the literature of sociopathology.)

I'm going to miss this site. See PZ: Labiaplasty is simply another form of female genital mutilation, so I find that repellent. Isn't it funny how liberals NEVER complain about genital mutilation? That's because they're all secretly in love with Islamo-fascism isn't it?

6/12/2010 10:05:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

And finally, I forgot a link to Think Progress via John Cole. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) this is Palestinian thinking [...] They don’t believe in the Torah, in David I don't believe in Peter Pan or the Lord of the Rings. And? And to me, since the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas, while certainly there should be humanitarian aid and people not starving to death, to strangle them economically until they see that’s not the way to go, makes sense. Yes, if people in a democracy vote for the wrong party, the democratic thing to do isn't to shrug and say 'Vox populi, vox dei' but to punish them until they vote the right way. After all, they're only heathens, or, as Chas Newkey-Brown likes to remind us, goyim. That's not racist, of course.

6/12/2010 10:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Darius Jedburgh said...

"Hallucinatory twist," by the way, because (a) one suspects that the architects of the invasion of Iraq thought they had an eye to israel's interests, and (b) Norm took his most famous stand over the proposition that the invasion wasn't an injustice at all!

I realise I'm getting a little obsessive here, but... the more you think about the Garrard position, the more tortuous it becomes. You have to be really critical of the Iraq invasion (notwithstanding the hallucinatory aspects mentioned above) if you want to criticise Israel for anything at all -- otherwise you are guilty of antisemitic double standards. But you can't go so far in your criticism of the Iraq adventure to compare Bush to Hitler -- otherwise you're guilty of the antisemitic *ne plus ultra* of Holocaust denial! Avoiding antisemitism turns out to be a regular high-wire act.

6/13/2010 03:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Darius Jedburgh said...

...and another thing:

Surely most of the people toward whom Garrard is directing her inept insinuations of antisemitism *were* more critical of the Iraq invasion than they have been of even the most outrageous of Israel's recent actions -- and for *precisely* the reason Garrard implies they should have been! -- viz "more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians [were] killed" in the invasion. Or does she think that the critics of the invasion nevertheless thought that Bush & co *retained* the "common human decency" that Israel's leaders in their various recent acts of lunatic bellligerence and racist spite have shown themselves to lack? The suggestion is absurd. (See also the Rodent's remarks on Garrard in his recent post The Ferguson Defence.)

6/13/2010 04:34:00 AM  

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