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ABF Friday:  Crazy Ol’ Marty Peretz edition!

This is a tough one*, folks.  How precisely should Harvard University honor Marty “Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims” Peretz next week? 

Keep in mind that this is not a question about how Peretz should defend himself.  As Peretz told Benjamin Sarlin, “The notion that after teaching 45 years at Harvard and people giving money in my honor that I have to defend myself—please.” Nor is it a question about whether Harvard should decline the fellowship money or rename the fellowship or cancel the day-long event on September 25.  Because that would be ridiculous and absurd.

Instead, I think Harvard should ask Peretz to specify precisely how cheap Muslim life is (to other Muslims, of course!  We don’t want to give anyone the impression that Peretz himself believes such a thing, just because he calls it “a statement of fact, not value").  I mean, any old racist crank can talk about the cheapness of Muslim life.  But someone worthy of an honor at Harvard should be able to name a figure.

Your suggestions?
_____________

* Yes, yes, I know, “ABF Fridays” began (back in aught-five, when this blog was insouciant and full of joie de vivre) as arbitrary but fun value judgments, and here we’re dealing with how Harvard should handle a statement of fact, not value.  So feel free to deconstruct the fact/value distinction in comments!  Be arbitrary—but fun!

UpdatePeretz apologizes on the eve of Yom Kippur.  Good on him for that.

Posted by on 09/17 at 09:55 AM
  1. From the “ridiculous and absurd” link:

    “But the statement also declared that “it is central to the mission of a university to protect and affirm free speech, including the rights of Dr. Peretz, as well as those who disagree with him, to express their views.’’

    “We are ultimately stronger as a university when we maintain our commitment to the most basic freedoms that enable the robust exchange of ideas,’’ the statement said.”

    Never let it be said that bloggers have not influenced debate among the elite.  Here we have a statement from Harvard that argues exactly like a blogger!  Every blog commenter worthy of the name knows that failing to honor someone equates to an infringement of their free speech.

    Actually, I’m kind of glad to see this crap.  Now I don’t have to feel bad when the wingnuts attack Harvard any more.  As this nonsense indicates, there’s nothing there worth saving.

    Posted by  on  09/17  at  11:52 AM
  2. Yeah, I see nothing terribly out of the Harvard mainstream in anything Peretz wrote, although I’m sure most the community does not like being reminded of it in such a blatant way.

    This may just be sour grapes, but I’m also bitter.

    Posted by  on  09/17  at  12:09 PM
  3. So, Rich, you have refudiated Harvard’s right to free speech?  I think that’s deplorable.

    Posted by  on  09/17  at  12:17 PM
  4. Michael,

    I am sad to read about the gradual decline in insouciance of your blog. How do we go about souc-ing it back up?

    Posted by  on  09/17  at  01:00 PM
  5. Off Topic, but this is ABF Friday, and thus off topic is not unexpected.  It seems that teh Professor has found something else to do with those precious seconds he has left in his day by lobbying his University to engage in the sport of hockey. How could he ever find the time, and how will he have any free time left now that he has so many more hockey games to attend.  If the women’s volleyball program is any indication of Penn State’s concern for creating masterpieces, then scholarships for women’s hockey will be hefty.  The men will take care of themselves i am sure as well.

    Posted by  on  09/17  at  01:02 PM
  6. Actually, Elroy, I don’t think the decline was gradual.  It was a sudden, precipitous thing, probably caused by the re-emergence of Dinesh D’Souci.

    --ducks--

    Posted by  on  09/17  at  01:04 PM
  7. Every blog commenter worthy of the name knows that failing to honor someone equates to an infringement of their free speech.

    Well, without this special event at Harvard, how would Mr. Peretz ever be heard, Mr. Puchalsky?  Huh?

    Using similar reasoning, Yale recently held a conference on “Palestinians: Subhuman Threat or Demonic Menace?” with a panel well-padded with Peretzians.  But as the university implicitly argued when criticized for it, how else could militant Zionism ever get a hearing in this country?

    So feel free to deconstruct the fact/value distinction in comments!

    There isn’t one.  Wheeee!

    Posted by  on  09/17  at  01:04 PM
  8. And spyder, yes indeed, that is the only good piece of news I’ve seen today.  I was hoping that the gift would come along with a new building for the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, so that we could have the nation’s only Division I Institute for the Arts and Humanities and Ice Hockey, but I suppose I can settle for this.

    Posted by  on  09/17  at  01:05 PM
  9. Way to quack us all up, Professor.

    I’m trying to come up with something along the lines of Le Bérubé Dem Sans Souci, only funny, but I should probably just leave it to Stormcrow or Protevi.

    Posted by  on  09/17  at  01:10 PM
  10. There isn’t one.  Wheeee!

    No, no, mds, deconstruct it, don’t just refudiate it.  Say “the fact/value distinction is part of a sequence of terms the governing principle of which is itself a fact/value distinction” or “fact and value are traces of, but not fully subsumed by, arche-value” or “the question remains as to whether the fact/value distinction is itself a fact or a value” or “value is the dangerous supplement of fact that at once ‘fills up’ fact and points to a residue or excess of fact” or something like that.  Otherwise ur doin it wrong.

    Posted by  on  09/17  at  01:11 PM
  11. No, no, mds, deconstruct it, don’t just refudiate it.

    A-hem:

    Be arbitrary—but fun!

    [Annoying overemphasis added]

    You could make a compelling case that it wasn’t actually “fun,” but I derived some measure of enjoyment from writing it.  And in the end, isn’t that what truly matters?

    Posted by  on  09/17  at  02:07 PM
  12. Instead, I think Harvard should ask Peretz to specify precisely how cheap Muslim life is

    Exactlioto, Quasimodo. The well-chosen follow up question is terrifically effective in piercing the veil of jingoism. Lost art, anymore.

    Is Muslim life valued differently in different parts of the world? Perhaps there is an opportunity for Muslim life arbitrage, a tidy profit for certain entrepreneurial life forms. You don’t need a Harvard MBA to know which way this wind blows.

    Posted by  on  09/17  at  02:07 PM
  13. Peretz Schmeretz! I read this: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/news/story?id=5583790 and immediately race through the intertubes to AA for your first take, and I get Peretz?! Puh-leeze.

    Posted by  on  09/17  at  02:10 PM
  14. Peretz apologizes on the eve of Yom Kippur.  Good on him for that.

    Now I feel bad. I apologize from my unfair dig at Harvard culture.

    Although we should monitor whether this is is an, “I used to be a knee-jerk neocon when it came to the Mideast, but ever since I had to apologize for dehumanizing Muslims I’m ooutraged by John Bolton” moment for Peretz.

    Posted by  on  09/17  at  02:40 PM
  15. Apologize *for*

    Posted by  on  09/17  at  02:41 PM
  16. "I do not console myself that many other Americans at this moment are committing the same transgressions, against others.”

    Me too, Marty. Whether it’s home decorating atrocities or the occasional racist rant, I absolutely do not take comfort in how miniscule my sins are when viewed in the context of the hideous transgressions committed by other Americans.

    Posted by  on  09/17  at  02:51 PM
  17. Indeed, when I’m on an extended racist rant about whether I need to continue to pretend that I think Muslims are worthy of the First Amendment, I don’t even stop to think about other people committing the same transgressions, let alone try to console myself thereby.

    Because the “but Pam Geller did it too, and louder” thing is just beside the point.

    Posted by  on  09/17  at  03:02 PM
  18. And my first take on Penn State D1 hockey?  Cool.  $88 million can buy a lot of stuff!  My new building would cost only a tiny fraction of that.  The best thing, quite apart from the fulfillment of local hockey people’s deepest desires, is that the new facility will have two sheets of ice, so maybe us old guys can use one of ‘em.

    Posted by  on  09/17  at  03:04 PM
  19. Peretz apologizes on the eve of Yom Kippur

    But not specifically for this refusal to apologize for what he said. 

    However, he stood by his comment that “Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims,” claiming his words were “a statement of fact, not value.”


    We can haw and hmm all we want about his non-declarative generalized Yom Kippur statement of atonement, but to have been this specific the day before, and so general the day, the latter, reeks of something.

    with a panel well-padded with Peretzians

    Gee, let me guess who these might be?  The Goldberg twins, Billy Kristol, Paul Wolf de Witzi, fahzah and son Feith, Oyster Perle, Normative Podhoretz, David toga-party Wurmser, and moderated by the Evil Dick?

    is that the new facility will have two sheets of ice

    Or perhaps even three, because, well, three is the holy and sacred number.

    Posted by  on  09/17  at  03:36 PM
  20. How much is Muslim life worth? I’m sure Larry Summers could come up with an argument why exporting death to Muslim lands is good for the economy, since they earn so much less than Americans. Or something like that, if I could be bothered to look up the Third World pollution memo. But that was before Summers became The World’s Greatest Martyr to Feminazis, so it’s probably down the memory hole by now.

    Captcha: “today” as in “this modern world of ..., in which we now presently live contemporaneously”

    Posted by John Protevi  on  09/17  at  04:13 PM
  21. Posted by  on  09/17  at  04:31 PM
  22. I’m sure they can squeeze a room for the Institute for the Arts and Humanities in a sub-basement of the new Hockey Valley Arena.

    And I mean NOW (captcha)

    Posted by JRoth  on  09/17  at  06:37 PM
  23. I’m sure they can squeeze a room for the Institute for the Arts and Humanities in a sub-basement of the new Hockey Valley Arena.

    Hey, Terry Pegula made $4.9 billion selling his company to Royal Dutch Shell.  $88 million is about 2% of that, so add another one-half percent (0.5%), and Michael could have an entire wing built on to the arena complex for the Institute.  Lady Icers, in between games and practice could discuss the next season of films in the film festival, without leaving the building.

    Juan Cole (because he was mentioned) helps us realize that most in the US act as though Pakistani muslim lives have fallen completely off any value line, with more than 4 million still suffering badly from the flooding (that is still happening).  Reporting on Wednesday he wrote:

    Pakistani opposition to the US incursions against Pakistani sovereignty has been muted because of the vast flooding that has affected much of the country, and dealing with which has pinned down the Pakistani military.  Another 25 villages in the Sindh province were submerged by flood waters on Tuesday. Hundreds of more villages are menaced by the waters of Manchhal Lake, which is now full to capacity and could overflow. Incredibly, the flooding continues to displace Sindhi villagers on a massive scale without generating much in the way of news in the US. The displaced are facing lack of potable water and food shortages

    Posted by  on  09/17  at  06:58 PM
  24. That was a pretty crappy apology. Though paraphrasing, what he wrote was essentially “I was wrong in saying those feelfthy Muslims shouldn’t have First Amendment rights, but I certainly wasn’t wrong in saying that life is cheap in that shitty culture. It’s a fact, Jack, NOT a value statement.”

    What a creep.

    Posted by sfmike  on  09/17  at  09:07 PM
  25. "I mean, any old racist crank can talk about the cheapness of Muslim life.  But someone worthy of an honor at Harvard should be able to name a figure.”

    So Marty should name a figure. THEN he should be asked for a figure for the value of his own life. THEN comes the fundraising announcement.

    Who knows? Maybe he’ll take a check.

    Posted by  on  09/17  at  11:29 PM
  26. Be glad that you now have ice hockey, and not this. Good times!

    Posted by Pinko Punko  on  09/18  at  12:38 AM
  27. and not this.

    But, but .. A&M got to have a “9/11 beam” at their football game last week doesn’t that make up for it? Speaking of which, I know it’s the Air Force Academy but Holy Laying It On Thick Batman!:

    Fans attending Saturday’s BYU-Air Force game at Falcon Stadium are urged to be in their seats by 1:30 p.m. The day will begin with 20,000 mini American flags and 10,000 US Constitutions being handed out at the stadium gates. In addition, a giant flag covering the entire field will be unveiled at halftime. The cadet march-on will have special guests, and will be followed with a special 9-11 video tribute. In addition, a steel girder from the World Trade Center will be on display on the east side of the stadium in front of the flag pole before the game.

    If the PSU hockey arena doesn’t get a 9/11 beam it will confirm that you guys are totes anti-colonial.
    Posted by  on  09/18  at  08:05 AM
  28. What’s up with the 2:1 flag to constitution ratio? Much too low. Flags si! Constitution no!* Too many words spoil the patriotismic feeling.

    *Unless it’s Michael’s version.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  09/18  at  10:25 AM
  29. Yes, I was trying to imagine the discussion at the 9/11-Football Game Commemoration committee meeting that ended up with precisely those numbers. Maybe, “We don’t want everyone to be too busy reading their Constitution to wave their flags.”

    Posted by  on  09/18  at  10:30 AM
  30. sfmike:  I believe you’re referring to Peretz’s non-apology response to Nick Kristof, and not to the actual apology in the link, which says “in this past year I have publicly committed the sin of wild and wounding language, especially hurtful to our Muslim brothers and sisters.” Maybe that’s not specific enough for some people (hi, spyder!), but I think it’s as much of an apology as could be expected (or wished for!), under the circumstances.  Peretz must have been under enormous pressure to write something like this, and after that first non-apology, it must have been tempting to double down again.  I’m glad—and pleasantly surprised—that he did not.

    And don’t worry about all those constitutions messing up the patriotism in Colorado Springs!  I have word that the constitutions they’re handing out are the newly revised ones previewed on this very blog last month.

    Posted by Michael  on  09/18  at  11:45 AM
  31. Who knows? Maybe he’ll take a check.

    In California, it would have to be an IOU.  They have broken yet another record, and are trying to set a new one so far out there that it won’t be broken again next year.  Now if Peretz had only gone to Stanford, his honorary moment would have brought much needed cash to the state.

    “I allowed emotion to run way ahead of reason, and feelings to trample arguments”

    He may have apologized for his rational arguments, but his emotions and feelings still feel the same.

    Posted by  on  09/18  at  03:24 PM
  32. He may have apologized for his rational arguments, but his emotions and feelings still feel the same.

    Hate means never having to say you’re sorry.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  09/19  at  12:10 AM
  33. Friends of Martin Peretz part two, the uninvited Harvard guests.

    Posted by  on  09/19  at  11:50 AM
  34. The deafening silence of PSU hockey on Park51 is telling.  I can only speculate the unpatriotic brand of dump-it-in hockey they will promulgate.  That and sharia law.

    Posted by Pinko Punko  on  09/19  at  03:58 PM
  35. Fortunately, Newt Gingrich has called for a ban on dump-it-in hockey in the United States.  USA!  USA!

    Posted by Michael  on  09/19  at  06:29 PM
  36. Lawrence Davidson writes on Juan Cole’s blog about Peretz today:

    Back on March 6, 2010 Peretz said, “I can’t imagine any venture requiring trust with Arabs turning out especially well. That is, you will say my prejudice, but some prejudices are built on real facts, and history generally proves me right. Go ahead, prove me wrong.”

    I am relatively sure he didn’t apologize for this one.  I do like the equivocations though.

    Posted by  on  09/20  at  01:12 PM
  37. Uttered in the best Peretzian manner:  GOV. JANET BREWER: I feel that I’m somewhat hurt that they would think that I would be a racist, you know. And I was… and a bigot and that I would stand by and allow any kind of racial profiling or anything like that to take place.

    Posted by  on  09/20  at  11:36 PM
  38. I have two words for that free-speech press release: Tom Paulin.  Though I’ll water down the impact of that by saying yes, I know the ins and outs of that story, and it wasn’t precisely the same by any means, but… sigh.

    Posted by  on  09/21  at  04:10 PM
  39. I’m kind of glad to see this crap.  Now I don’t have to feel bad when the wingnuts attack Harvard any more.

    Posted by Ruby  on  09/29  at  06:36 AM
  40. I am sure that they can squeeze a room for the Institute for the Arts and Humanities in a sub-basement of the new Hockey Valley Arena.

    And I mean NOW (captcha)

    Posted by Nancy Malhotra  on  10/23  at  03:31 AM

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