30 October 2008

Rhetoric to nowhere.

I really want to take a break from politics, but politics won't give me a break.

Now Sarah Palin is out there acting as though Obama has a whole network of "radical" or "terrorist" professor buddies who will be running the White House from their Ivory Towers, claiming that Obama's a "political ally" of Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi:

"It seems that there is yet another radical professor from the neighborhood who spent a lot of time with Barack Obama going back several years," Palin said at an event in Bowling Green, Ohio.
"This is important because his associate, Rashid Khalidi ... in addition to being a political ally of Barack Obama, he's a former spokesperson for the Palestinian Liberation Organization."

In Palin's world, of course, even knowing someone who's a professor or worse yet a professor at one of those elite liberal unreal America universities is bad enough, but when that professor also calls into question US policy toward Israel and Israeli policy toward Palestinians, then it's beyond the pale. Except that there's no evidence that Khalidi was ever a spokesman for the PLO and there's no evidence that he and Obama are ideologically aligned on Middle East matters -- in fact, there's considerable evidence to the contrary.

Apparently, though, being neighbors -- whose kids attended the same schools -- and colleagues at a university aren't supposed to lead to any sort of relationship at all, in which case, I'm completely screwed because I happen to do things with my neighbors and colleagues...even ones I disagree with...and god knows I've managed to put up with lots of unsavory associations for the sake of peace with my kid's soccer and baseball teams...Not to mention that a whole host of my best friends from back home are conservative to greater or lesser degrees.

So, yeah, I'm screwed from all these friends and neighbors I have who aren't ideological mirror images of me, but I suppose that means my friends and neighbors are just as screwed as I am for associating with me.

Professor Khalidi is a prominent and respected scholar in his field. He is one of many scholars who question existing relationships and attitudes, analyze the results of Middle East policy, and advocate for changes. It's called research. Within his field, I'm certain, there are several other scholars who challenge his conclusions and disagree with his approach. They are also engaged in research. They probably meet at conferences and either avoid one another or catch up over the old times; they may be personal friends but scholarly opposites. That's how fields of knowledge develop, and that's how professors live: holding divergent opinions but in an atmosphere (most of the time) of collegiality and shared inquiry (which is not to sugar-coat all the nastiness that can go on intra-departmentally, etc: some of your worst enemies are your everyday colleagues and some of your best friends are your ideological opposites).

Unfortunately, in Palin's world view the questions are already settled, Israel is always right (a view not shared by the way with many Israeli civil rights groups, but let's not complicate Ms. Palin's simplistic rendering of complex political, historical, and geographical questions), and scholarly inquiry is Un-American.


JES said...

Was talking to The Missus about this last night. I don't know which is worse -- that (a) SP speaks as though her conclusions are the result of years of study of national and international issues, instead of (tops) two months' worth, or (b) the "base," or whoever her preferred audience is, apparently believes the same things. I think it's (a), though. At least her audience has come by their ignorance honestly, only after decades of rigorous misinformation and confusion.

The good news is that she seems to be tearing the GOP apart. I'd love to see her form a 3rd party.

Lonnie Bruner said...

New poll today: 23% of Texas thinks Obama is Muslim.