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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Still more travels

In response to the overwhelming demand from one or two people in yesterday’s comments, I’m going to release the dates of my upcoming gigs (the What’s Liberal about Rhetorical Occasions? World Tour 2006).  If you’re going to be in the neighborhood, stop by and say hello!  Tickets are available through all Ticketmaster outlets and at the box office.

The next three weeks are unusually intense; ordinarily I don’t leave town (mostly for Jamie-related reasons) more than five times in a semester, and only once have I traveled on three consecutive weekends.  Weekend travel also messes up my hockey season, from which I have taken a six-week hiatus after opening the season quite well in both the A and B leagues.  (And aren’t you glad I spared you the updates on that?)

October 27-28: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, my old haunt.  I’m still working on my paper for this one, but I assure you that I have written my bit for the big Cary Nelson Roast on Friday night.  That should be fun.  On Sunday I drive down to St. Louis to visit Nick.

November 2: Colorado College, Colorado Springs, right near my old friends at Focus on Beating the Children the Family.  And despite that talk description, I won’t actually argue against “the common notion that higher education is a bastion of the left.” I just threw that bit in there to aggravate that blogger over at ACTA!  (Actually, I didn’t write that blurb at all.  And I prefer to argue that the domination of a couple of academic fields by liberals and leftists is not necessarily good either for those academic fields nor for liberals and leftists.  But to hear the thrilling details, you’ll just have to come to the talk!)

And damn, but I have a big shiny forehead.  Topped off with helmet hair!  I’ll have to fix that one of these days.

November 4: Associated Colleges of the St. Lawrence Valley, St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY.  This is a tough one; I’ll be traveling overnight and playing two back-to-back road games.  Let’s hope my preseason fitness regimen pays off!

November 9: Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, talking neither about What’s Liberal nor Rhet Ox but about the book in progress.

November 10: Midwest Modern Language Association, Chicago, keynote address, 6:30 pm (just scroll down to session number 104).  With film clips!  This one will be fun too.  I hope.

And that’s it for the rest of calendar year 2006.

Finally, in other news, this morning Marc Cooper informed me that I’m on some kind of new Ed Herman List.  The nature of this list escaped me at first; it has to do with Bruce Ackerman’s and Todd Gitlin’s response to this essay by Tony Judt, and Ol’ Ed writes:

First, A-G say that “We have all opposed the Iraq war as illegal, unwise and destructive of America’s moral standing. This war fueled, and continues to fuel, jihadis whose commitment to horrific, unjustifiable violence was amply demonstrated by the September 11 attacks…” It should be noted that the “all” who have signed on here (through October 23rd) as opposing the war does not include a large number of prominent liberals, including Paul Berman, David Corn, George Packer, Jean Beth [sic] Elshtain, Michael Walzer, Marc Cooper, Peter Beinart, Leon Wieseltier, David Remnick, Jacob Weisberg, and Michael Berube, among others.

I wasn’t sure why this “should be noted”; Corn, Walzer, Cooper and I opposed the war whereas (I believe) everyone else on this list supported it.  So at first I thought this was just more of the Why Ed Herman is a Lot Like David Horowitz phenomenon: you know, both old frauds get a little confused at times, and throw the names of their many many enemies into a big pot regardless of the issue at hand.  (Todd Gitlin!  Michael Walzer!  Katie Couric!) But then, ten or fifteen seconds later, I realized that Ol’ Ed was implying that Corn, Walzer, Cooper and I didn’t sign the Ackerman-Gitlin thing because we supported war in Iraq.  And that makes a bit more sense, because it fits with what Ol’ Ed has been saying for three or four years now.

Just for the record, I didn’t sign the Ackerman-Gitlin statement ‘til this morning, because (as you can see from the previous post) I was traveling this past weekend, and I didn’t know about it.  Sometimes people publish these things without letting me see them first.  Sad but true!

But the reason it took me ten or fifteen seconds to realize the obvious is that while Ol’ Ed notes the “prominent liberals” who didn’t sign as of October 23, he doesn’t think much of the people who did sign, either:

There is also the question of the form and intensity of opposition to the war. Quite a few liberals, including Todd Gitlin, distanced themselves from the antiwar protests that took place before the war on the grounds of their improper leadership (ANSWER). . . .

Well, if Ed Herman wants to take time out from his current “research” into How Srebrenica Was Not Really Such a Big Deal to re-fight the intraleft battles of 2002, that’s OK with me.  People like Gitlin and Corn and Cooper and me got ourselves on Ed’s Enemies List back then because we opposed the war and believed that ANSWER was precisely the kind of group Bill O’Reilly and Karl Rove would have designated to lead the antiwar movement if they were given their choice from a thousand-item menu of options.  See, we actually wanted millions and millions more of our fellow Americans to oppose the war in Iraq back before it started, long before the bodybags and busted budgets eventually turned public opinion our way; and we didn’t think it was a good idea to organize rallies around slogans like “Amerikkka is the world’s leading terrorist state” and “Palestine must be free from the river to the sea.” (Quite apart from our objections to these slogans’ propositional content, we thought they were pretty bad rhetorical devices for bringing people over to the antiwar side.) Of course, as I noted at the time, the harpies and warfloggers of the right would have demonized the antiwar movement even if it had been led by Miss Manners and Mister Rogers.  But that was no reason for progressives and liberals to keep quiet about the fact that a critical antiwar movement was hijacked from the outset by the hoary old neo-Stalinists of the Workers World Party.  Personally, I didn’t care what the harpies and warfloggers said.  I cared about what the undecideds thought.

Well, I’ll be saying more about all this at the Northwestern gig, where I’ll also be talking about Stuart Hall’s work on Thatcherism.  In the meantime, I’ll—oops!  Almost forgot!  Back in 2002, I was supposed to STFU when people like Ed Herman went after me . . . in the interest of left solidarity, of course.  And I’m not supposed to object to Ol’ Ed’s latest implication that I supported the war in Iraq, because that would be triangulating!

Very well.  I’ll be back tomorrow or Friday with something about the National Review instead.

Posted by Michael on 10/25 at 12:47 PM
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