Colombia professor Hamid Dabashi went ballistic in a February 2019 Al Jazeera article titled “The incurable parochialism of American intellectuals”, an irrational diatribe against Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow”, who wrote an opinion piece in the NY Times titled “Time to Break the Silence on Palestine”. Her article was a critique, & a damn good one, of the historic betrayal of Palestinians, linking it to the civil rights struggle of Blacks in the US. Apparently Dabashi is from the school of thought that tenure at a university bestows the academic equivalent of papal infallibility so it is a mortal offense to take issue when a professor speaks ‘ex cathedra’. He was so outraged by my defense of Alexander & critique of his diatribe that he blocked me.
Dabashi called Alexander intellectually dishonest, morally compromised & equivocal, & indicted her for an ‘incurable myopic parochialism’. All that for standing up for Palestinians in the NY Times, a bastion of Zionism. So okay, Dabashi bombed in grasping the importance of Alexander’s article. We’re all allowed blunders once in a while. But can he explain how he could excoriate Alexander for making the case for Palestinians in the NY Times & then just months later be promoting the candidacy of Bernie Sanders as a ‘decent principled & most progressive’ guy when Sanders is a Zionist who proudly claims he is “100% pro-Israel’? Being politically principled is not the same as playing to the peanut gallery, as knowing what rhetoric will keep you in the electoral game. Sanders may be a ‘decent’ guy but what does that mean when he refused to denounce the 2014 Israeli carpet bombing siege of Gaza? He believes in a Jewish-only state at the expense of displaced Palestinians. Just how ‘principled & progressive’ is it when generations of anti-Zionists, including Jews & Palestinians, have elaborated at length the fatal flaws of such undemocratic monstrosities, now with evidence from India & Iran to reinforce their arguments? Endorsing Sanders is the essence of moral equivocation on Palestinian self-determination.
Dabashi suggests that Sanders is the best that ‘American political culture could produce’. How patronizing & ahistorical. While it may be true that US politics presently has a dearth of impressive leadership, American political culture (whatever the hell that is) has produced figures like Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Tecumseh, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Eugene Debs, James Cannon, Antoinette Konikow, Bill Haywood, Cesar Chavez, & scores of unknown others who were political giants, not two-bit electoral hustlers.