Babbler # 13409
posted 24 August 2008 08:26 AM
"America’s leading anti-Semite, grand wizard of the KKK, leader of Hitler Youth, David Duke. In the minds of many, Norman Finkelstein has become Hitchcock’s Norman Bates. Hysteria and outright manipulation distort his record and thereby divert discussion from his ideas to the bogey that people imagine. People have written me that inviting a speaker like Norman Finkelstein is like throwing a bomb in a darkened theater; it is like exposing the vulnerable young to inexorable evil. I do not think so. A university should be a well lit place where intelligent people interrogate each other sharply but civilly. Such conduct is its own protection, our only protection, really, against evil. Have we reached the point where we fear ideas? ... As for yelling 'fire' suddenly, surely, we all knew in advance that the speaker was coming. As for trapping people in a theater, who has been forced to stay? As for the dark, well, dialogue is enlightenment. So, I turn the question back to you, sitting here. Are you the flash in the night?... If our inability to manage lectures and discussions about controversial issues forces us to leave them to the battling hacks on talk radio and the networks, then the university indeed will become a dark theater, occupied by know-nothings who receive their conclusions, pre-thought and pre-packaged, from elsewhere. We will then concentrate on the ice-capades of the intellect, the unthreatening but elegant analysis of what we already agree to as objective, and the airing of voices that sound like us and say what we would say. We will be the poorer for that, though I am sure much more self-righteously content. Here is a chance to show that we are better than that." (Hellenbrand, Notes)
Well put. I like that "ice-capades of the intellect".
From: Death Valley, BC | Registered: Oct 2006
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