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December 14, 2017


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Deep State Special Legal Counsel

Even in death, Hitler is still killing. That is why it matters.

Darryll Jones

Thank you Steve for this very informative series. I'm left with troubling cognitive dissonance. You very effectively make the case that at its logical conclusion hate speech enables (or results in) violence, if only initially by a misguided minority. And I get the feeling that you conclude that is an invariable result, not a mere possibility. On the other hand, you seem willing to accept the notion that academic freedom or, more broadly, freedom of speech, prevents society's efforts to prevent the invariable result -- we may not sanction the speech, we can only take steps to exonerate the captive audience from penalties for not listening. Yet the speech is still dangerous because invariably some will willingly listen and then act upon the speech. That is what makes the speech something more than mere trivial ramblings of an idiot. It seems to me that we cannot have it both ways. At the point that speech is the invariable fuse for violence, society -- through its governing institutions -- has the right and indeed the obligation (I think you might agree that the "good" Germans who did hate but also did not act against hate speakers in 1939 were complicit in the result) to sanction that speech. The argument regarding whether we should take hate speech seriously or simply dismiss that speech as the thoughts of idiots demonstrates the point. Once we are convinced that hate speech is a clear and present danger, we ought to take it seriously. What does "taking it seriously mean? Simply deciding that we will not force students to listen or endure hate speech does not cure the problem as you seem to [correctly] define it. A minority, and perhaps later a disaffected majority, will invariably act on those words in violent ways. I think that is your conclusion, one with which I agree, but the proposed solution leaves me with the notion that maybe you don't really believe in your conclusion. If we believe in the conclusion, sanctions are not only warranted but required.

Steve L.

I appreciate your very thoughtful comment, Darryll. You have posed the issue extremely well. I am afraid that I have only the standard (and classic) liberal answers to your question: The possibility that someone will "act on those words in violent ways" is a risk inherent in the principle of free speech. The remedy I urges is also a classic: More speech, but it must be speech that does not trivialize or shrug off the underlying danger.

Perhaps there is a better answer, but I do not know it.


We have always recognized the "clear and present danger" that speech can entail, so let's not forget that.

ANd, let's not forget that the First Amendment does not protect speech in general: it protects speech from GOVERNMENT interference.

And, the problem here isn't that academia is indifferent to hate speech: in fact, academics are the first to proclaim their adherence to strict standards in this regard: but Jew Hate is an exception.

The problem here is that many in academia are hateful, spiteful persons. Their hate cannot be openly expressed against certain groups. But middle aged straight white men, fine, have at it. Say what you will.

Jews? Oh boy, a hate fest here! ANd, those who want to go there can always resort to the "I'm only talking about Zionists and evil Israel" defense (this defense always falls apart).

I know some are probably thinking: "What's the problem? There are too many Jews in academia, not too few."

My point, exactly.

Prof. Kevin Heller

I have disagreed intensely with Professor Lubet's attempts to paint Steven Salaita as an anti-Semite, but this series of posts is critically important and spot-on. Of course we on the left need to resist the right-wing's desperate attempts to equate all criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism (see anon above for a particularly incoherent example.) But that does not mean there is not true anti-Semitism in the world -- including in left-wing academic circles. Chikindas and Bazian are striking examples, as Professor Lubet proves beyond doubt. The left does itself a great disservice when it excuses or minimises the actions of such disgusting anti-Semites.


The late Connor Cruise O’Brien had a test for a category of bigot, he called the ‘sneaking regarder....’ The way he described it, they would seem to agree with the condemnation, a sectarian murder, attacks on Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Arabs, Blacks .... and at some point into their discussion woukd creep the inevitable “but they ..... [as a group did some terrible thing]”. In a way, I find the sneaking regarder, or the quiet acquiescer more dangerous than the out-and-loud bigots.

I just finished reading Robert Dallek’s FDR biography, and the epilogue discusses Roosevelt’s role in the Holocaust:

“No issue in Roosevelt’s legacy remains as contested as his response to the Holocaust: Hitler’s annihilation of six million Jews. As Blanche Wiesen Cook wrote in the third volume of her splendid Eleanor Roosevelt biography, “Debates over FDR’s ‘indifference’ to the Jewish slaughter will surely continue. Those who argue that FDR did ‘everything possible’ are contradicted by ER’s assertion that nobody did all they could have. . . . ‘We let our consciences realize too late the need of standing up against something that we knew was wrong.’” In 2003, when Cook asked Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Roosevelt biographer and John Kennedy White House adviser, “How can you argue that FDR did everything ‘possible’ to rescue and save the perishing?” Schlesinger responded by pointing to the realities of American politics of the era, in which anti-Semitism was prevalent. “Look at the numbers,” he said. “Thirty percent of the U.S. population was German-American; the Democratic Party was Irish, Italian, and Southern. There was no congressional support to save the Jews, no movement to save them, and intense division among Jewish leaders—many of whom remained silent throughout. Silence. Denial. Complicity.””



Heller is as nasty as always, but I think brackets has described, very nicely, the "coherence" of the Heller tack:

"sneaking regarder....’ [he] would seem to agree with the condemnation [of] attacks on Jews .... and at some point into [his] discussion [he will] creep the inevitable “but they ..... [as a group did some terrible thing]”.

We have debated this issue before here in these pages. Suffice it to say, as stated above, the "Zionists are evil but that has nothing to do with Jews per se" argument is risible and always falls apart when closely examined.


Just noticed this whopper, really important piece of insight into the self described mind of the "left" here:

"Of course we on the left need to resist the right-wing's desperate attempts to equate all criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism."

Ah, so! According to this brilliant bit of observation, the "right wing" attacks others for "anti-Semitism" when all these others have done is legitimately attack "Israel"?

This "right wing" that attacks "anti Semitism" plays a very odd role indeed in the confused alternative reality described by this really rather strikingly bizarre statement.

Prof. Kevin Heller

Describing an incoherent argument as an incoherent argument = "nasty." I can see why anon is anon. I would be too, if I was such a snowflake.


anon & Kevin Heller:

As someone who is often very critical of Israeli policy - yes, criticism of Israel does, sometimes attract wrongful accusations of anti-semitism. But a difficulty that anyone criticising Israel has to face up to is that many critics of Israel start from an antisemitic position, many Palestinian groups have embraced antisemitism, quite a few critics are at least in part motivated by antisemitism - and far too many on the left (or the right) tolerate this anti-semitism, or at least engage in an embarrassed silence, and shuffle their shoes.

That reality does not mean that critics of Israeli policy should accept being routinely and dishonestly being called antisemitic. An interesting detail from some opinion polls I like to point out to those who suggest that Jews are uncritical Israel supporters - most surveys I have seen have found that non-Israeli jews are more likely to be critical of Israeli policy than gentiles in the general population, by about 2-5%. I'd have to dig out the date, but it's reliable and fairly consistent (lot of "don't knows" in the general population.)



Very true. "Jews" are not, as some would contend, part of "world wide Jewry" and do not slavishly adhere to ideological positions associated with the "Jewish race" in the face of reality.

Of course, as instructed above and in the world view of those who say such things, it is the "right wing" that wrongly and "desperately" attacks "anti Semitism" on the "left" (!) - when in truth, those on the "left" (as we all should know, again, as one is to suppose from the comment above) have in the main exemplified principled opposition to Jew Hate and propounded only principled opposition to the "Zionists" in Israel. ("Of course we on the left need to resist the right-wing's desperate attempts to equate all criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism ...") Yes, the "right wing" is the defender of Jews, and, well, the "Left" is too!

Is it any wonder that Jew Hate thrives in legal academia? Is it not possible to draw conclusions based on the fact that a scholar ensconced in legal academia would propound assertions such as these as facts?

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