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Bloggingheads 01-24-2008 02:58 PM

Me vs. We
 
This is Part II of John and Glenn's discussion. Part I, posted on January 17, can be found here.

thprop 01-24-2008 03:39 PM

Stop Repeating Lies and Propaganda
 
John McWhorter continues to repeat the lies and propaganda being put out by Israel with regard to the failed negotiations at Camp David in 2000. For some reason, the version put out by Dennis Ross has been accepted as the truth in this country.

If this were such a good deal for the Palestinians, why would Shlomo Ben-Ami, the Israeli Foreign Minister in 2000, say:
“If I were a Palestinian, I Would Have Rejected Camp David”

Norman Finkelstein completely destroys Ross' version of events. Here is an interesting debate between Ben Ami and Finkelstein.

Walt and Mearsheimer also give an accurate account of the Camp David negotiations in The Israel Lobby (ppg. 103-107, Camp David Myths). The Palestinians were never offered anything formally - informally they were offered nothing like that described by McWhorter.

Remember that the talks between the Israelis and Palestinians continued until January 2001 in Taba, Egypt. Ehud Barak broke off those talks. Shortly thereafter, Ariel Sharon came to power and there was no chance of talks restarting.

Anyuser 01-24-2008 04:27 PM

Re: Me vs. We
 
These guys are great.

threep 01-24-2008 05:39 PM

Re: Me vs. We
 
I mostly have looked down on the boosterism surrounding this match-up, since I was wary (and sometimes rightly) that there would be Colin-Powell-speaks-so-well syndrome, but I have to say that I am continuously, repeatedly impressed. Not by the depth of material or the clarity of presentation, even, but by the fact that one or the other will disagree incisively and therefore, naturally, confrontationally, and though I brace myself for the outbreak of hostility, against all my conditioning and instincts it doesn't come. Somehow the focus never leaves the incisiveness when so many others of us would lose our way in the confrontation. It's almost shaming.

gwlaw99 01-24-2008 05:52 PM

"Glenn holds Israelis to a higher standard"
 
"Glenn holds Israelis to a higher standard"

So does most of the world outside the US which exactly the problem. One standard for jews and one for everyone else is antisemetism.

Glenn's igornance of basic facts make it rediculous for him to be commenting on the situation. Calling the people in Hebron "settlers" when jews lived there for over 2000 years until they were ethnically clensed in 1948 is absurd.

His ignorance of what happened in the Israel Hezbollah war is simply appaling.

Not understanding that the majority of Israeli jews until the late 80's were refugess from ARAB countries and not Europe. (now it's 40% because of the influx of Russian Jews)

Bill Clinton and Dennis Ross were there. Jimmy Carter, Norman Finkelstein and Walt and Mersheimer were not. I believe Bill Clinton.

Glenn, some advice. Don't say another word about the Israel/Palestine conflict unless you actually decided to learn about it. You are a very smart man who ends up sounding foolish.

joe_mask 01-24-2008 05:56 PM

Re: Me vs. We
 
Long time, first time.

Just a quick note to congratulate Mr. Loury and Mr. McWhorter on another wonderful edition of bloggingheads. I love the tone and thoughtfulness of their conversation and hope for many more episodes.

I of course appreciate all the content on this site very much and want to thank Robert Wright and Mickey Kaus for their hard work.

Yes, yes, it's kinda kissass. I'll at least begin like a gentleman.

Wonderment 01-24-2008 06:03 PM

Collective vs. Individual
 
I found some interesting connections between the first part of the dialogue and the second. John and Glenn discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which revolves around two groups who base their self-consciousness, political organizing and aspirations around core concepts of victimization. The Jews are the historic victims of Euro-Christianity culminating in the Holocaust, and the Palestinians are the dispossessed victims of Zionism.

The great debate in the US -- both within the Latino and African American communities -- is between the Bill Cosbys who insist on individual responsibility and a refusal to overplay the victim card, and those who, like Glenn, insist it would be a mistake to downplay how society and institutional racism limit individual opportunity.

The tricky thing is that "victimhood" is often politically empowering and individually debilitating. Putting individual suffering in historical context has helped further the cause of Jews, Palestinians, African Americans and many other minority groups. But getting stuck in the mindset that everything can simply be blamed on the Exploiter is deeply counterproductive, whether it's Jews seeing an anti-Semite behind every criticism of Israel, Palestinians blaming every failure on a Zionist conspiracy or African Americans blaming the White Man for a teenager's failure to get a job.

The way out of this dilemma is -- as Glenn suggests -- to integrate both individual and collective responsibility: to have high expectations of the individual and to have equally high expectations that the collective can come to understand social and economic injustice. I see this working often -- not always -- in our Latino communities. Young gangbangers with a little mentoring or counseling will understand that they are individually responsible for their crimes; while crime victims can often see through their pain and anger to understand the sociopolitical context. Such societal education and reconciliation can lead to the programs of intervention, prevention, and education that we so desperately need.

Wonderment 01-24-2008 06:28 PM

Re: Stop Repeating Lies and Propaganda
 
Quote:

John McWhorter continues to repeat the lies and propaganda being put out by Israel with regard to the failed negotiations at Camp David in 2000. For some reason, the version put out by Dennis Ross has been accepted as the truth in this country. If this were such a good deal for the Palestinians, why would Shlomo Ben-Ami, the Israeli Foreign Minister in 2000, say:
“If I were a Palestinian, I Would Have Rejected Camp David”
I didn't interpret John as saying it was a good deal for the Palestinians. It was indeed a shitty deal. I think what he was saying is that they might have been wise to try to close an imperfect deal rather than get no deal at all.

The easy problem of the conflict is developing a peace plan. The hard problem is implementing it. Everyone knows that at the end of the day there has to be a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank with a contiguous strip connecting them. J-lem has to have some kind of shared sovereignty, and refugee grievances must be addressed through a combination of "return," reparations and aid to the Palestinian state.

You have to get there though. There's a map but there are no roads.

Palestinians DO need to do more to reduce violence. There's no other way to get the Israelis to negotiate seriously.

It is hard, however, to hold the Israelis to the "higher standard" that Glenn expects of them. Yes, they should behave in an enlightened and civilized manner, but it's obvious from the past 40 years of Apartheid occupation, settlement and denial of Palestinian human rights that Israeli militarism is extremely brutal, and that in crunch time, the IDF and the Israeli right resort to disproportionate violence and unspeakable barbarity.

theis 01-24-2008 07:00 PM

Re: "Glenn holds Israelis to a higher standard"
 
It seems plain as the nose on my face that individual and societal responsibility are both important factors in people's success. Take as evidence the ne'er-do-well from a good family. I don't understand why Glenn seems to believe there's only room for activism on one of these fronts. They don't contradict each other. Rather, I imagine that our society's efforts to help disadvantaged people would be tremendously more successful if the people being helped were taking a more proactive stance toward improving their situation. Leaving aside moralizing and blame, which seem to terrify Glenn, doesn't he want to see some people actually start to succeed?

thprop 01-24-2008 08:00 PM

Re: Stop Repeating Lies and Propaganda
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 69287)
Palestinians DO need to do more to reduce violence. There's no other way to get the Israelis to negotiate seriously.

It is hard, however, to hold the Israelis to the "higher standard" that Glenn expects of them. Yes, they should behave in an enlightened and civilized manner, but it's obvious from the past 40 years of Apartheid occupation, settlement and denial of Palestinian human rights that Israeli militarism is extremely brutal, and that in crunch time, the IDF and the Israeli right resort to disproportionate violence and unspeakable barbarity.

Why are there all these things that the Palestinians have to DO? Israel does not have to do anything - except to continue its violations of international law by colonizing the West Bank.

If Israel wants the support of the West, it must meet a higher standard. If Israel is just an exclusive religious/ethnic state with colonial and expansionist aspirations, why should we support it?

I guess The Israel Lobby sees to that. Barack Obama obediently bowed down before it and sent a letter to the US Ambassador to the UN - saying that poor little Israel was forced to shut down Gaza and ruin the lives of over a million people:
Dear Ambassador Khalilzad,

I understand that today the UN Security Council met regarding the situation in Gaza, and that a resolution or statement could be forthcoming from the Council in short order.

I urge you to ensure that the Security Council issue no statement and pass no resolution on this matter that does not fully condenm the rocket assault Hamas has been conducting on civilians in southern Israel...

All of us are concerned about the impact of closed border crossings on Palestinian families. However, we have to understand why Israel is forced to do this... Israel has the right to respond while seeking to minimize any impact on civilians.

The Security Council should clearly and unequivocally condemn the rocket attacks... If it cannot bring itself to make these common sense points, I urge you to ensure that it does not speak at all.

Sincerely,
Barack Obama
United States Senator


I wonder if all AIPAC had to say to Obama was, "Hey boy - come over here. We got a letter for you to sign."

I suggest people read:
Lords of the Land: The War for Israel's Settlements in the Occupied Territories, 1967-2007 by Idith Zertal and Akiva Eldar

I now look at Israel as an immoral state. I am now in favor of a one state solution. Let everyone in Palestine vote - END THE APARTHEID!

thprop 01-24-2008 08:04 PM

Re: "Glenn holds Israelis to a higher standard"
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by gwlaw99 (Post 69284)
I believe Bill Clinton.

I have a bridge for sale in New York City - let's talk. You sound like the perfect buyer.

thprop 01-24-2008 08:09 PM

Re: "Glenn holds Israelis to a higher standard"
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by gwlaw99 (Post 69284)
Bill Clinton and Dennis Ross were there.

So was Shlomo Ben Ami - I believe he was the Israeli foreign minister. He has written and said a lot. Why don't you read "The Rise and Fall of the Oslo Process".

Wonderment 01-24-2008 08:32 PM

Re: Stop Repeating Lies and Propaganda
 
Quote:

Why are there all these things that the Palestinians have to DO? Israel does not have to do anything - except to continue its violations of international law by colonizing the West Bank.
There are not "all these things" that Palestinians have to do. They simply have to stop trying to kill civilians. And no one said "Israel does not have to do anything." On the contrary, I agree that Israel is a serial human rights and international law violator.

Quote:

I wonder if all AIPAC had to say to Obama was, "Hey boy - come over here. We got a letter for you to sign."
The racial innuendo of "boy" does not further dialogue.

Quote:

I now look at Israel as an immoral state. I am now in favor of a one state solution. Let everyone in Palestine vote - END THE APARTHEID!
Great. You can favor anything you want. The trick is how to achieve it. One state is a very unlikely outcome, in my view.

garbagecowboy 01-24-2008 08:54 PM

Re: Me vs. We
 
Loury's quite literal drift to left continues: his face was completely out of the frame by this point in the conversation.

TwinSwords 01-24-2008 09:21 PM

Re: Me vs. We
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by garbagecowboy (Post 69299)
Loury's quite literal drift to left continues: his face was completely out of the frame by this point in the conversation.

LOL! He's so far left, he's off the scale!

Intractable 01-24-2008 09:38 PM

Re: "Me vs. We"
 
It is inspiring to hear intelligent people having a spirited, respectful and passionate conversation such as this one.

bjkeefe 01-25-2008 12:58 AM

Re: Me vs. We
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by joe_mask (Post 69285)
Yes, yes, it's kinda kissass. I'll at least begin like a gentleman.

We look forward to the bitterness and vitriol, now that you're signed up. ;^)

Welcome aboard!

fedorovingtonboop 01-25-2008 01:01 AM

Re: "Me vs. We"
 
glenn, you're so predictably left wing it's boring! you're at risk of becoming a left wing robot!

bjkeefe 01-25-2008 01:04 AM

Re: "Glenn holds Israelis to a higher standard"
 
gwlaw99:

Quote:

"Glenn holds Israelis to a higher standard"

So does most of the world outside the US which exactly the problem. One standard for jews and one for everyone else is antisemetism.
That's an interesting reaction. I myself hold the Israelis to a higher standard, too, for a variety of reasons, but the worry I sometimes have is that I am thereby implicitly dissing the Palestinians, in a sort of "well, one can't expect those people to behave."

I strongly reject the idea that my holding Israel to a higher standard is anti-Semitic, though. One should always oblige one's friends to be fully what they are.

bjkeefe 01-25-2008 01:06 AM

Re: Collective vs. Individual
 
Wonderment:

Quote:

The tricky thing is that "victimhood" is often politically empowering and individually debilitating.
Excellent observation, and bonus points for succinctness.

bjkeefe 01-25-2008 01:07 AM

Re: Me vs. We
 
It was funny how John brought the conversation to a close, by comparing Glenn to Barack Obama, because at that point, I was asking myself, "How do I vote for Glenn Loury for President?"

Of course, I'd want John to be one of his senior advisors. It never fails to amaze me how often these two can come at something from different sides and arrive at something that sounds like a step forward.

Keep 'em coming back.

piscivorous 01-25-2008 01:31 AM

Re: Me vs. We
 
I sort of had the opposite reaction in that the comment has sort seriously diminished my interest in Senator Obama.

bjkeefe 01-25-2008 01:53 AM

Re: Me vs. We
 
Inspirational speeches don't do it for you? Or was it something else?

bjkeefe 01-25-2008 03:06 AM

Re: Me vs. We
 
Bear in mind: he's leaning to his right.

basman 01-25-2008 03:59 AM

Re: Me vs. We
 
1. I don't feel any collective responsibility when other people do bad things. I feel personal responsibilty when I do bad things.

2. The amount of condescension that both these guys but especially Loury shower on the non-intellectuals, which includes me, is breath taking in its audacity.

3. I see no less wisdom, no less good judgment and no less moral sensibility in the non-intellectuals these guys heap scorn upon than in the pointy headed folks I have met in my life and times.

bjkeefe 01-25-2008 04:05 AM

Re: Me vs. We
 
basman:

That pretty well sums up the difference between conservatives and liberals, I'd say. I feel collective responsibility (as well as personal responsibility) and I definitely think intellectuals (on average) make better decisions.

Wonderment 01-25-2008 04:54 AM

Re: Me vs. We
 
Quote:

It was funny how John brought the conversation to a close, by comparing Glenn to Barack Obama, because at that point, I was asking myself, "How do I vote for Glenn Loury for President?"
I had the same thought: What a great statesman Glenn would be.

So last time around John convinced me to support Obama (now that Kucinich is out of the race I can do so without hesitation), and this time Glenn convinced me that he (Glenn) would be a much more inspirational leader than the woman he is supporting.

When I think about it a little more, however, I'm convinced that Glenn made the right career choice by becoming a teacher. I hope his students realize what a treasure they have.

Wonderment 01-25-2008 05:10 AM

Speaking of Obama....
 
and knowing how strongly you, Brendan, are anti-theist, what do you make of this BO quote from his "Christianity Today" interview:
Quote:

I am a Christian, and I am a devout Christian. I believe in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that that faith gives me a path to be cleansed of sin and have eternal life.

bjkeefe 01-25-2008 07:08 AM

Re: Me vs. We
 
Wonderment:

Quote:

When I think about it a little more, however, I'm convinced that Glenn made the right career choice by becoming a teacher. I hope his students realize what a treasure they have.
Yes indeed. I've often thought how nice it would be to take classes from him. I even used to live in the same town where he teaches. Stitch in time. (As if I ever would have been able to get accepted at Brown!)

bjkeefe 01-25-2008 07:16 AM

Re: Speaking of Obama....
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 69336)
and knowing how strongly you, Brendan, are anti-theist, what do you make of this BO quote from his "Christianity Today" interview:

I don't love that aspect of Obama, to be sure.

On the other hand, I don't have a huge problem with people who are religious as long as they keep that part of their life separate from day-to-day decision-making. Obama seems to have good compartmentalization, he's certainly far less bad than any Republican in this regard, and I like a lot of other things about him that carry more weight. Nobody's perfect, especially not when contemplating viable political candidates, so I have to choose from what's available.

I also tend to think that Obama is inflating, or at least emphasizing to the stretching point, his religious beliefs for political reasons, partly in response to the viral "Obama is a secret Muslim" campaigns, and partly just because that's what you have to do to get elected in this damned country. I don't much like this, either, but it is reality. And you can't govern if you don't win.

piscivorous 01-25-2008 09:09 AM

Re: Me vs. We
 
Because of Professor Loury's overemphasis on the collective responsibility over personal responsibility.

piscivorous 01-25-2008 10:20 AM

Re: Me vs. We
 
I returned to college latter in life and was amazed at just how ignorant many of the professors were of life's realities. I would like to know how an individual removed from the vicissitudes and trials of real life, sheltered in their protective cocoon of campus group think and utopianism, can "(on average) make better decisions?"

garbagecowboy 01-25-2008 11:29 AM

Re: Me vs. We
 
Brendan: if that really is a fault line that divides conservatives from liberals, then you guys are in trouble.

"Shame and blame for everyone!" Might work as an ungrad thesis title in the Queer Studies department at Penn (I swear I picked that name out of a hat that contains... 2 others) but not as a public policy you're trying to sell people, with regard to anything from why black people don't do better in school to why people are mean to other people sometimes. Hasn't shouting "It's society's fault!" gotten a little tiresome for the people doing it? I know hearing Loury explain how it's society's fault in a particularly elegant way must warm the cockles of your heart and fill you with renewed vigor, but still... for those of us on the receiving end, I don't think any real revolution is going to take pleace in our consciousnesses.

Loury has said in a completely different context that people "can't be talked out of poverty." I'd like to flip that around on him and say that people can't be talked out of their life experiences with regard to race. All the high-falutin', low-falutin' and meddium-fallutin' prattling in the world will not convince anybody who doesn't already believe it that the 15 year old drug dealer who had a gun in his hand when he got popped is anything but in a bed he made and now has to sleep in.

As far as your beloved intellectuals and their infallibility of judgment: think________I count as an intellectual. I know it's a small sample size... but the idea that I and we are the ones who should run society? I'll take a pass on living in that world. The meetings alone would last weeks.

bjkeefe 01-25-2008 12:19 PM

Re: Me vs. We
 
pisc and Adam:

The two of you have exaggerated and oversimplified my position, and have ignored qualifiers that I gave.

I believe that society can alleviate or aggravate environments that make bad outcomes more likely, and if society makes choices that contribute to the latter outcome, there is some shared responsibility. However, I do not absolve the individual of responsibility. I am saying that we all can make things better, or worse, depending upon how we act, what policies we support, and how we allocate resources. If we do the right things often enough, there will be fewer individuals who need to be held accountable for their misdeeds. Safe neighborhoods and a belief in opportunity go a long way to helping a kid stay on track.

You're also both guilty of arguing from anecdote, especially in thinking a few college professors you didn't like represents the full spectrum of intellectuals. First, I did say "on average." Second, I don't care how many woolly-headed ivory tower types you want to bring up; I could match them a thousand-fold by emptying out a few trailer parks. Tell me you'd rather have the latter group be The Deciders.

Oops. That was a little uncalled for.

piscivorous 01-25-2008 12:36 PM

Re: Me vs. We
 
Oh so you think the poor shouldn't have a vote? How egalitarian.

bjkeefe 01-25-2008 12:40 PM

Re: Me vs. We
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by piscivorous (Post 69350)
Oh so you think the poor shouldn't have a vote? How egalitarian.

Again, you're caricaturing my position. Of course I don't think this.

I think the dumb shouldn't have a vote.

uncle ebeneezer 01-25-2008 12:43 PM

Re: Me vs. We
 
Garbage, I think Glenn pre-responded to your premise a few diavlogs ago when he asked John "what has the message 'be better' gotten us lately?" Your premise that personal responsibility is the "fault" of whatever unfortunate situation we imagine (the 15 year old with the gun) denies the complexity of factors that caused it to be. While personal responsibility based on our decisions is certainly a big factor, it is not the only one. And Glenn is suggesting that to bury our heads in the sand and say that it is all simply a matter of choice and personal responsibility, is foolish.

The biggest difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals acknowledge the fact that various elements of society DO play a role in why some kid ends up as a gangsta. And more importantly, they believe that the government (as imperfect as it may be) has the potential to tweak various elements of society to try to minimize these occurences in the future. Our personal motivations and decisions are ultimately the biggest factor in the choices we make. But there's two things to remember: sometimes our choices are beyond the reach of direct government influence. IE- people often do what they want to, regardless of what the government says. So "be better" is completely useless in those situations whether it's coming from the govt., Newt Gingrich or Bill Cosby. The other thing to remember is that our desires and choices etc., are effected by society. Peer pressure, status, financial security etc., all involve society at large and are thus subject to change depending on the state of society. This is the glimmer of hope that liberals see as the possibility for making positive change through government policies.

So in summation: personal responsibilty and society both play a role in it all. Both should be considered as avenues for improving the world, and anyone who denies either one is looking through binoculars with one eye closed. I think that was what Glenn was trying to say.

I would vote for Glenn (or John) in a heartbeat. I'd rather have the world run by people who put alot of thought into it, than those who do not.

By the way, I found your "meeting" line funny. Too true. I have sat through countless "business meetings" in the corporate world that totally demolished the notion that somehow free-market/capitalism breeds higher efficiency.

piscivorous 01-25-2008 12:45 PM

Re: Me vs. We
 
You profess prescribe to the general philosophy that it is not the fault of the downtrodden that the are poor it is the fault of society except for the
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 69346)
pisc and Adam:
... I could match them a thousand-fold by emptying out a few trailer parks. Tell me you'd rather have the latter group be The Deciders.

Its because they are dumb.
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 69352)
I think the dumb shouldn't have a vote.


basman 01-25-2008 12:48 PM

Re: Me vs. We
 
Brendan:

Not to get into a whole thing with you, but three quick points:

1. If you have not, look at Paul Johnson's book The Intellectuals;

2. Yes indeed, the intellectuals in Germany, for instance, were quite the bulwark against Hitler's rise to power and his maintaining it--especially that moral stalwart Heidegger;

3. I consider myself a liberal and if in the states would vote Democratic, either for Hillary or Obama, but preferring the former.

piscivorous 01-25-2008 12:53 PM

Re: Me vs. We
 
While I agree that there is both a a personal and societal responsibility it is a matter of which to stress in importance. Nealy every ethnic and national (Polish, German, Mexican) immigrant group, to America, put greater emphasis on personal responsibility as the ticket out of poverty as opposed to societal responsibility as the magic ticket. Strange how well these other groups better themselves; while many blacks still wallow in self pity and blame after trillions of dollars and exceptions to rules of equality have been thrown their way in the past 3 decades.


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