Vastleft hysteria watch
First if not foremost, Paul, writing a post slamming me after I specifically promised not to read or comment on your future posts seems like an awfully boorish use of the bully pulpit that is Open Left.
I had concluded, evidently with very good cause, that we don't play well together. Your decision to pillory me as an "hysteric" is especially dispiriting given that I consider [Open Left] a must-read destination.
In any case, you have successfully dragged me back in for the moment. I guess this is the way truces end. Well played, sir!
Anyone with the barest familiarity of the I/P discussions in lefty blogs is well aware that they skew toward outrage about Israeli wrongdoing rather than Palestinian wrongdoing. To observe that is neither to indulge in a fiction nor to suggest moral equivalence of any particular actions or of the whole of the I/P conflict.
One who gets his or her information about the conflict from lefty sources would get a huge dose of news and opinion about Israeli misdeeds, and very little about Palestinian misdeeds (likewise, as I noted numerous times in our prior discussion, I see a profound bias in the other direction in the MSM, rightwing blogs, and in mainstream political opinion [I haven't yet read your comments thread, but doubtless these observations will be ignored as I'm painted as some kind of Zionist propagandist chasing phantasms of anti-Semitism]). There may or may not be good reasons for the left's bias, but said bias is the nature of I/P commentary in the left blogosphere.
Paul makes great sport of the notion that it's just my "feeling" that Palestinian attacks on Israelis get scant coverage in the leftysphere.
Do you know who turns out to be aware of this tendency which I "feel" exists? One Paul Rosenberg, who explains in great detail why that, um, fact, would be:
...here are a few actual facts to keep in mind that help explain why certain sorts of discussions go on here and elsewhere in the blogosphere:
(1) We're Americans.
(2) Many of us are Jews.
(3) America supports Isreal to the tune of several billion dollars a year.
(4) As Americans we have both the influence (however small) and the obligaiton to participate in changing our country's policies, which support the murderous acts of the Israeli state.
(5) As Americans we have no such parallel influence over Palestinian violence.
(6) As Jews, we have the moral obligation to object to immoral acts done in our name.
(7) As Jews, we have no such moral obligation to object to immoral acts done against other Jews. In fact, the only way to have moral credibility in objecting to such acts is to concentrate the bulk of our attention on the immoral acts of other Jews. That way, when we do denounce Palestinian violence, we are not guilty of special pleading..
A man who has chosen to publicly vilify me for having the temerity to suggest that lefty blogs have a certain bias on this topic provides seven reasons for the fact (or, if it's me saying it, "feeling") of that bias.
This fellow even calls his opus "Sometimes 'Bias' Is Called For." The "Bias, What Bias?" argument appears to have gone out the window.
He also notes:
You see, I think it's pretty obvious, and quite rational why a progressive blog, particularly one with a significant Jewish presence, would focus much more attention on Isreali state violence rather than Palestinian violence--reasons in addtion to the obvious fact that Israeli state violence is so vastly more extensive than Palestinian violence, however indiscriminate violence on both sides may be.
The reason we focus more on Isreali state violence is that we are morally, legally and politically responsible for that violence in ways that we are not responsible for the Palestinian violence. And if we truly wish to end the violence on both sides, then the way to do that is to work strenuously to end the violence on our side--and that will give us moral standing and credibility to call for ending violence on the Palestinian side as well.
So, then, we agree that lefty blogs are relatively uninterested in discussing any Palestinian role in the conflict.
You could simply have said, "Well y'know, Vastleft, there's a good reason why that is..." instead of taking such a snotty tone with me — a snotty tone I'd come to know and love this past weekend as you found my lack of deference to organized religion "deeply embarrassing."
You can't imagine how much it stings to be a source of embarrassment to someone who trades in Yoda-eqsue smarm like:
"So we must teach them. And the first act of such teaching is, we must remember how to be ourselves.""So the first thing I would say is we should listen for a change in ourselves."
Pardon me for getting a little churlish. In our recent interactions, I've found you to be awfully defensive and uninterested in engaging in the substance of my arguments, so I felt it was better to stay out of your orbit, and it's rather annoying to be dragged back in so unceremoniously.
When I find the time, which is in short supply at present, I will expand at my site on why I think it's problematical for the left blogosphere to be one-sided in its focus on I/P.
I can be sure that no matter how fair and rational a case I make — and no matter how explicit I make it that I'm not passing judgment on the relative moral weight of the sides' actions — it will be greeted with unfounded cries of false equivalence.
And it is because of this, well, hysteria, that I blog. Because groupthink — no matter how well-meaning — is dangerous stuff.
When a group of people who respect each other's opinions arrive at a unanimous view, each member is likely to feel that the belief must be true. This reliance on consensual validation tends to replace individual critical thinking and reality-testing, unless there are clear-cut disagreements among the members. -- Irving Janis, Groupthink
The first edition of Janis's book was called Victims of Groupthink. I'm not sure whether "victims" meant those who fell under its spell or those who were harmed by them.
Seems to me that the Middle East has been home to many victims of groupthink, one way or another. Your feelings may vary.
Update: My closing thoughts at Open Left.