07 August 2007

Foot in mouth misreading

Talk about the power of associative (or simply lazy) processing of random information: I was slightly incensed lately about the article in the British Medical Journal by the incomparable Tom Hickey, one of the chief promoters of the "boycott Israel" initiatives. And this headline in CNN fits very well into that slightly incensed stream of semi-consciousness:

Of course, it doesn't have a lot to do with Tom Hickey, aside of possibility that the price of steaks he will have to pay will be slightly higher for some time. And I do wish British farmers well, so let's leave them out of this post.

Let's take a look at the foot-in-mouth outbreak in the British academic circles. And I am not going to dissect the whole article, it is too full of malarkey and was already dissected by many a superior mind. So I shall concern myself with something simple that even I can enjoy:
We are accused of unfairly singling out Israel—the Jewish state—and hence of being anti-semites. We are asked why we do not propose a boycott of other states whose policies are barbaric and inhuman, such as China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Zimbabwe.

But whether a boycott is appropriate in such places depends on the merits of each individual case. In the case of Israel, we are speaking about a society whose dominant self image is one of a bastion of civilisation in a sea of medieval reaction. And we are speaking of a culture, both in Israel and in the long history of the Jewish diaspora, in which education and scholarship are held in high regard. That is why an academic boycott might have a desirable political effect in Israel, an effect that might not be expected elsewhere.
So - you see how it goes - simple and practical. The real big and bad ones, like China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc. - they are so big, so bad and so evil that there is no sense in even mentioning them. Let's leave them alone - after all, they do not threaten our delicate academic backsides right now.

Argh... What can one say about this perverted "logic"? Nothing, really. So here comes a picture of Mr Hickey from the shoulders up:

The only reason I have posted it is that in the next picture, the one that reflects his intellectual achievements, you will not be able to see his face.

But hey, the tie is in place!

P.S. To the nitpickers - dontcha love a mixed metaphor here and there?

Cross-posted on Yourish.com.