Friday, January 24, 2014

Demonization and Hatred. By Howard P. Segal.

Demonization and Hatred. By Howard P. Segal. History News Network, January 16, 2014.

Boycott of Israel Goes Too Far. By Howard P. Segal. Lewiston Sun Journal [ME], December 29, 2013.

Segal [Sun Journal]:

Soon after I started graduate school at Princeton in 1970, I joined the American Studies Association and have been a faithful member ever since. I have served on the editorial advisory board of its distinguished journal, American Quarterly, and have contributed occasionally to it.
What began in the post-World War II years as an organization composed primarily of scholars and teachers of American literature, art, politics, history and philosophy, has grown into an ever more interdisciplinary organization on the cutting edge of several new specialties and radically revised older ones. “Post-modernism” is the best term I can come up with to describe the ethos of the ASA today.
Always leaning toward the left, the ASA has now, in my opinion, gone beyond the pale in its new boycott of Israel.
About two-thirds of those voting endorsed the unanimous recommendation of the ASA’s governing council to condemn Israel in the by now painfully familiar ways found in many other academic, political and union organizations in, especially, Canada and England. Israel is simply the worst country in the world, and no other country need be linked to it. Indeed, there are never any condemnations of any other countries with, to many of us, far worse violations of human rights than Israel. One needn’t defend all current Israeli policies toward Palestinians to acknowledge this fact of life.
Instead, we have the now annual “Israel Apartheid Week” in several Canadian universities and, even worse, the “Queers Against Israel” annual marches in Montreal and Toronto as part of parades otherwise celebrating gay and trans-gender rights. It hardly takes an expert to wonder how those avowedly out of the closet would fare if they tried to march in any Middle East country, save Israel.
But their blindness toward every other country’s human rights problems reflects, at heart, a rarely acknowledged real agenda: a hatred of not just Israel but of Judaism overall, often expressed in perverse insistence in there being no difference between Nazi Germany and contemporary Israel. Israel must be crushed, just as Nazi Germany was crushed.
As has been noted in recent days, those most passionate about the boycott do not devote a nanosecond to considering their own hypocrisy in not boycotting the ASA itself, given white Americans’ treatment of Native Americans and of African Americans. As Samuel Johnson famously said, “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of slaves?”
The University of Maine, alas, lacks an American Studies program at any level. By contrast, USM’s wholly graduate American and New England Studies Program consists of several distinguished scholars from different fields and is surely one of USM’s academic jewels.
Let me be clear: I’d never suggest to my colleagues at USM how to handle the now official boycott of Israel. Indeed, it’s none of my business as to how they voted. But it does make me curious as to how this and other American Studies programs nationwide will respond.
As for me, I may well resign from the ASA in protest of this outrageous boycott.

Segal [HNN]:

I recall the revelations found in the latest book by the eminent US historian Bernard Bailyn, The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America, The Conflict of Civilizations 1600-1675. In a generally depressing account of endless sickness, death, war, and religious and cultural conflicts, it is revealing that white settlers’ greatest savagery towards Native Americans occurred when the latter were deemed the Anti-Christ – as were, to be sure, some white religious dissenters as well.