el-Haj’s Facts on the Ground, is weak on the facts
[Hat tip to the Contentious Centrist]
Nothing is more democratic than logic…
Solomonia has posted rather externsively (here) on the latest kerfuffle* at American academia concerning the allocation of tenure to alleged anthropologist Nadia Abu El Haj. The opposition to this entitlement focuses on a book she wrote about how Israeli archeologists invented Jewish history in historic Palestine that was never there. Many scholars took her up on her claims and debunked her theory one leg at a time until it no longer has any leg to stand on. Still, the university is considering tenure to a professor who uses her cathedra as a pulpit to teach/indoctrinate falsehoods to young students. If she is a gifted teacher, she can work magic on these young and receptive minds.
All of which, for some reason, put me in mind of something I read a long time ago about Jewish scholars:
A Jew, on the other hand, in keeping with the business circles and the past of his people, is least of all used to being believed. Consider Jewish scholars in this light: All of them have a high regard for logic, that is for compelling agreement by force of reason; they know, with that they are bound to win even where they encounter race and class prejudices and when one does not like to believe them. For nothing is more democratic than logic; it is no respecter of persons and makes no distinction between crooked and straight noses.
(Nietzsche, The Gay Science, 348)
If fiction and post-modernistic “narratives” are now going to be given the mantle of respectability and legitimacy in academia, then the first casualty of such a decision will be logic, with democracy a close second. Depressing, isn’t it?
* kerfuffle, contrary to received opinion, and in spite of its “crooked grin” sounding enunciation, is not a Yiddish expression. It’s from the Scottish language:
ker·fuf·fle Pronunciation: k&r-‘f&-f&l Function: noun
For a different take, have a look at Dr. Jim West’s blog where he chalks all the criticism of el-Haj’s shoddy work up to a “witch-hunt” conducted by “Jewish fundamentalists”:
This ongoing assault on el-Haj is the manifestation of Judaism’s fundamentalism.
Never mind that most of el-Haj’s critics are secularists and many are not Jewish.