I took the required Philosophy courses in Undergrad. And by required, I mean REQUIRED, as in, “in the Religion and Philosophy area, 3 courses are required for successful completion of an undergraduate degree.” So I took American Philosophy, from which I vaguely recall the tenets of Pragmatism, and then I took a course in Existentialism. Oh, dear God. The only interesting thing about Existentialism was that the professor, a suitably moody little man with John Lennon glasses and an annoying penchant for striking Poses Of Deep Thought (think “hand to temple, affected grimace of rumination”) had us over to his house for the final pre-exam review and discussion. During the course of our philosophical musings, as we sat upon the professor’s hardwood floor whilst he pontificated from a leather armchair, one of the basketball players amazed us with a display of flatulence made all the more remarkable by the reverb caused by the aforementioned hardwoods. So that’s pretty much it for my education in philosophy, or as I like to call it: My Time With the Existential Fart.
So when I say that I don’t quite get how this fellow is getting all self-righteous and defensive, I’m serious. I don’t get it.
See, if you do an interview and say,
“In the book what I say is morally permissible is the terrorism of the Palestinians in the present situation”
then compare it to other morally permissible acts of terrorism (in your view), then why are you surprised that readers and listeners might make the appropriate leap of logic, to wit:
The Globe also said I assert what I explicitly deny, that acts of terror generally are morally justified.
In the English major, we call that parsing, and it’s basically a Cover Your Ass ploy when you realize that you’ve shown more about yourself (and in an unflattering way) than you intended. I mean, he’s asserted that two discrete terrorist movements are morally justified, so I think a reasonable person might wonder exactly how he’s gonna differentiate between Palestinians, South Africans, and, oh, pick a South American guerilla group. I mean, they can all be thought of as “freedom fighters,” can’t they? Where’s the line? A reasonable person might conclude that perhaps this fellow is an apologist for 21-year old women who strap explosives to themselves and blow up buses. On purpose. To kill little kids and their moms and dads. On purpose.
The anti-semitism thing he rails against on his homepage may have been blown out of proportion, but it may also have been the only straws those publishers could grasp to get out of a contract with someone who, for all of his high-toned deterministic ideals about terrorism, is just an existential fart writ large.