Posts Tagged ‘polemic’

Finding the Devil's Mark

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Years ago, I was dealing with a verbal thug in an Internet politics forum, and I called him a thug. At which point one of his allies jumped-in and claimed that my calling him this was an act of anti-Semitism, insofar as thug was used by Palestinian militants as as a codeword for Israelis, and I knew the fellow to be an Israeli.

One immediate problem was that I didn't know or believe that the fellow was an Israeli (I'd formed no opinion about his nationality); and, indeed, it developed that I couldn't have known such a thing, because the fellow simply wasn't an Israeli.

I'd also never heard or read of the word thug being used by Palestinian militants for any purpose (albeït that it wouldn't surprise me if they'd exhausted the lexicon of insults when it came to Israel). I'd called the fellow a thug for the simple reason that he was a goddamn'd thug.

The deeper problem was simply the accusation that someone was using codewords, where there isn't any need to produce a codebook, or demonstrate that a pattern has been meaningfully fit. It's a perfectly craven line of attack.

I mention this now in response to this story:

Black Congressmen Declare Racism In Palin’s Rhetoric by Jason Horowitz in the New York Observer
They are trying to throw out these codes, said Representative Gregory Meeks, a Democrat from New York.

He’s not one of us? Mr. Meeks said, referring to a comment Sarah Palin made at a campaign rally on Oct. 6 in Florida. That’s racial. That’s fear. They know they can’t win on the issues, so the last resort they have is race and fear.