Thursday, January 12, 2012

You Can't Say That!


{Cross-posted at Israel Thrives}

I always find it interesting when I am told that something that I have said is not false, but simply offensive and therefore beyond the bounds of reasonable political discussion.

I have been told this a number of times about various things and have even created a list of That Which Cannot Be Spoken which is currently sitting on the right side of the page of my home blog.

Barry Rubin, one of my favorite analysts, just wrote this:

Someone had written an article in the left-wing British magazine New Statesman, which always bashes Israel sometimes in the nastiest terms, defending Israel’s 2008-2009 Gaza operation called “Cast Lead.” In the article, the writer had gone into great detail to set forth the facts of what happened and to rebut the wild allegations of war crimes and the many outright lies told about these events.

But here’s the relevant part for all of us: my colleague explained that there had been about 300 comments to that article, some positive and most negative. And, he recounted, not a single one of the negative responses cited a single fact. They did not say, for example: “Oh, you’ve gotten the numbers wrong,” or “Here’s a critical point you missed.”

No, the theme of every attack was that “only a fascist would say this” or “you cannot say such a thing.”

What these people were saying is that they don’t have to argue with you or pay attention to what you are saying. They can just close their eyes, put their hands over their ears, and scream: “Liar! Evil person! You have no right to disagree with us or else we will destroy you.”

You can see why this reminded me of the incident with Batatu. And George Orwell, too...

It is the lowest form of political discourse to merely label someone something negative in order to dismiss whatever point they may be endeavoring to make.

If, for example, I say that Palestinian national identity is the world's newest national identity and that most "Palestinians" did not consider themselves to be any such thing until the second half of the twentieth century, it is not sufficient to call me a "racist."

The truth doesn't care about whatever label you may assign to someone in order to dismiss them.

The truth is the truth and in this case it may be an inconvenient truth for pro-Palestinian activists who wish to see Israel dissolved as a Jewish state, but why should inconveniencing anti-Zionists bother me?

It doesn't.


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