Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The moral paralysis of the "fetishization of balance"

Norm has a short post about the Oxford Union kerfuffle:

Max and some wild things

A remarkable passage from Max Hastings yesterday - discussing the Oxford Union business, he writes:

Muslim extremists say worse and more dangerous things about Jews than [David] Irving ever has. We excuse and even indulge them, because of our guilt about the role of Europe and the US in creating and sustaining the state of Israel.

We excuse and even indulge them - coughed up without more ado. Then there's also the little matter of 'guilt about... creating and sustaining the state of Israel'.

So I went to Max Hastings' article, written, it would appear, as he was luxuriating in the "warm bath of Guardian decency."

And this decency produced a moral conundrum of undefeatable logic: David Irving and Nick Griffin may be hateful persons, but they are not really so heinous as to deserve to be ignored by respectable institutions. After all, what they are saying is not half as bad as "Muslim extremists say" whom "We excuse and even indulge them,".

Implicit in his words is the message that European Guilt over the Holocaust should not justify the cold-shouldering of Holocaust deniers, while guilt over "creating and sustaining the state of Israel" should rightly be translated into indulging Muslim Holocaust-deniers.

Either way, the Holocaust deniers get to have a platform from which to disemboque their venom against Jews, with the blessing of the Max Hastings. Somehow the guilt over complicity in the annihilation of a people and the guilt over midwifing the creation of a country for the remnants of that people are thus perfectly balanced and canceled out. Thus guilt over murder and guilt over birth are equalized.

The rationale that underlies this thesis is what Martin Amis calls "The fetishization of balance", without which rhetorical fallacy Hastings could not in good conscience continue to enjoy the warm soapy water of the Guardian's bathtub.


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