Bernard-Henri Lévy And The Problem of ‘Selective Outrage’

You, sir, are a knave and a hypocrite. You protest and fulminate when X assaults–or otherwise inflicts harms on–Y, but not when A assaults–or otherwise inflicts harm on–B. Yet the crime is the same in each case. Your outrage is selective. I do not, therefore, trust your motives, and will ignore your crocodile tears, yourContinue reading “Bernard-Henri Lévy And The Problem of ‘Selective Outrage’”

Why Get Arrested? Why Perform Civil Disobedience?

A Facebook friend of mine asked in response to my posts and photos about yesterday’s protest at the Israeli mission to the UN: It seems as though you all knew you were going to get arrested and almost seem proud of that? Isn’t there a way to protest without being arrested? This is a veryContinue reading “Why Get Arrested? Why Perform Civil Disobedience?”

Protesting For Gaza: A Day in Gaol

Earlier today, during the course of a peaceful civil disobedience action–at the Israeli mission to the UN, on Manhattan’s East Side–protesting the humanitarian catastrophe currently underway in the Gaza Strip, twenty-six protesters, including moi, were arrested and taken in custody. The protesters included Norman Finkelstein, my Brooklyn College colleague Corey Robin, and my cellmate for theContinue reading “Protesting For Gaza: A Day in Gaol”

On The Alleged Undesirability of Inconsistency

Inconsistency in our beliefs–and thus actions–is often held to be not just a cognitive failure, a breakdown of rationality, but also a moral failure of sorts. Sometimes the inconsistent are accused of hypocrisy, of disingenuousness. We are urged to forensically examine their utterances and actions, sifting through the traces they leave, all the better to indictContinue reading “On The Alleged Undesirability of Inconsistency”

V. S. Naipaul on Diversion and Inspiration

In “The Author’s Note”, a preface of sorts to The Return of Eva Peron with The Killings in Trinidad (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1980), V. S. Naipaul writes, These pieces…were written between 1972 and 1975. They bridged a creative gap: from the end of 1970 to the end of 1973 no novel offered itself toContinue reading “V. S. Naipaul on Diversion and Inspiration”

The Difficulty of the Memoir

As my About page indicates, I am currently working on “a memoirish examination of the politics of cricket fandom” (contracted to Temple University Press, for the series Sporting, edited by Amy Bass).  Writing it has proven harder than I thought. I began writing the book late in 2001 and had a hundred-thousand word draft readyContinue reading “The Difficulty of the Memoir”

Isaac Bashevis Singer on A Rabbi’s Crisis

In Isaac Bashevis Singer‘s “I Place My Reliance on No Man” (collected with other short stories in Short Friday) Rabbi Jonathan Danziger goes to pray in his synagogue one Monday morning. As he prays, he encounters a crisis: When the rabbi came to the words, ‘I place my reliance on no man,’ he stopped. The words stuck inContinue reading “Isaac Bashevis Singer on A Rabbi’s Crisis”

Christopher Hitchens: Pro-War, Anti-Death Penalty

A few days ago, Corey Robin wondered on his Facebook status: Something I never understood about Christopher Hitchens: how such a fervent opponent of the death penalty could be such an avid supporter of war. Supporters of the death penalty, of course, are notoriously fond of war (they also tend to be ‘pro-life’ in theContinue reading “Christopher Hitchens: Pro-War, Anti-Death Penalty”

Freedom in the Absence of Social Convention

In reviewing Arturo Fontaine‘s La Vida Doble, “a harrowing examination of violence during the Pinochet period,” whose heroine is Lorena, “a female terrorist who is tortured, changes sides, and becomes a torturer herself”, David Gallagher writes: But why in fact do good fathers and meek husbands and generous lovers undertake such cruel torture? Here Lorena seesContinue reading “Freedom in the Absence of Social Convention”

Making the Abstract Concrete

A few weeks ago, I posted the following quip as my Facebook status: You don’t really get _Civilization and its Discontents_ till you bring up a child. And then, a week or so later: Apropos of my recent comment that you don’t really get _Civilization and its Discontents_ till you raise a child: I don’tContinue reading “Making the Abstract Concrete”