Re: The Curious Case of Chas Freeman
Brian's point is simple and compelling: motive matters. It matters in intellectual life and it matters in political life. Anyone who is motivated to torpedo the Freeman nomination because of their position on Israel should say so. Some will, some won't.
Conor's point is equally simple and equally compelling: determining the motive of others with anything close to certainty is impossible. As such, one must take intellectual and political arguments at face value and address them on their merits, irrespective of motive.
I strongly suspect that Brian is correct about the true motives of many of the critics of Freeman. But without certainty with respect to their motives, Freeman must be defended on the merits.
For anyone who disagrees that motive matters I'll offer one purely pragmatic reason as to why (there are others): serious objections to any action/nomination or what have you are endless. Creative people can always find something to criticize - even if it means having to take a position with respect to some hot button issue that they wouldn't ordinarily. In order to actually come to some sort of decision/conclusion - the true motivations behind the endless possible objections must be established and dealt with one way or another. Arguments made in bad faith are endless.